John Peel Wiki

”I remember I think in the summer of 1986 [1] going to see the Bhundu Boys for the first time with John at some college down in Chelsea. And I turned round to look at him halfway through the gig and there were tears streaming down his face, and he described the music as the most natural flowing music he had ever heard in his life.”
(Andy Kershaw, Peel tribute programme, 31 October 2004 (Andy Kershaw))



Hupenyu Hwangu

The Bhundu Boys were a Zimbabwean band who made a rapid breakthrough with British independent music audiences in the mid-1980s with their joyous 'jit' style of Afropop and dynamic live performances. After supporting Madonna for three nights at Wembley Stadium in summer 1987, however, momentum was lost following record company problems and a shift to a more western sound. Tragedy was to follow with frontman "Biggie" Tembo leaving the band in 1990 and later committing suicide, while other members fell victim to AIDS. The band finally folded in 2000.

Links to Peel

Champion Doug Veitch, who founded the Discafrique label, introduced Peel to the Bhundu Boys [1], which he and Andy Kershaw immediately became enthusiastic supporters of the band, offering sessions and giving heavy airplay to the albums 'Shabini' and 'Tsvimbodzemoto', both released in the UK. Kershaw described the first time the two DJs heard the band:

"I first heard them when they put out an EP in the autumn of 1985. Peel and I were in the office at Radio 1. We sat staring at each other, thinking this recording was absolutely wonderful. It was the dazzling quality of the music, the harmonies, the sparkling guitar playing."[2]

Live, the impression was equally overwhelming, but although the Bhundu Boys scored a rare Festive Fifty entry for an African band in 1987 with a track from their major-label debut, Peel would pay less attention to the music they recorded in the UK. He did, however, return regularly to the band's early Zimbabwean material, playing numerous tracks from the double 'Shed Sessions' CD compilation when it was released in 2001.

In 2011, The Guardian newspaper listed Peel playing the Bhundu Boys as #41 in '50 key events in the history of World and Folk music'. [3]

Festive Fifty Entries


1. Recorded 1986-07-06. First broadcast 14 July 1986. Repeated 30 July 1986, 01 September 1986, 20 October 1986, 22 December 1986, 22 February 1988

  • Manhenga / Writing On The Wall / Chemedza Vansa / Let’s Work Together / Kuroja Chete

2. Recorded 1986-12-21. First broadcast 07 January 1987, repeated 27 January 1987, 25 February 1987, 11 May 1987, 28 December 1987

  • My Foolish Heart / Ndoita Sei? / Jig-A-Jig / Rugare

Other Shows Played

(This list was compiled only from the database of this site and Lorcan's Tracklistings Archive and is almost certainly incomplete. Please add any missing information if known.)

(JP: Now you are I are both going to have to come to terms with the title of this LP because I'm going to be playing it an awful lot and you're going to be going into record shops and saying 'please could I have the Bhundu Boys Tsvimbodzemoto'. And that was called 'Simbimbino' from the LP and I'll play you another track from it before we all go home too. That's described as being a cautionary tale of a greedy man, a woman (his wife), a hole, the trap and a moralising pig. Well!)
  • 19 January 1988: Wakasikirei Satani (12" - Ziva Kwawakaba) Discafrique International
  • 20 January 1988: Ziva Kwawakaba (12") Discafrique
  • 27 January 1988: Wakasikirei Satani (12" - Ziva Kwawakaba) Discafrique International
  • 30 January 1988 (BFBS): Wakasikirei Satani (12" - Ziva Kwawakaba) Discafrique
  • 01 February 1988: Chemedzavana (7" - Chemedzavana / Writing On The Wall) Jit Five
  • 02 February 1988: Writing On The Wall (Single issued in Zimbabwe, taken from Peel Session)
  • 06 February 1988 (Radio Bremen): Hupenyu Hwangu (album - Shabini) Discafrique
  • 09 February 1988: Writing On The Wall (12" - Jit Jive) WEA
  • 14 February 1988 (BFBS): Chemedzevana (Peel Session)
  • 14 February 1988 (BFBS): Writing On The Wall (Peel Session)
  • 15 February 1988: Ziva Kwawakaba (12") Discafrique
  • 23 February 1988: Hupenyu Hwangu (LP - Shabini) Discafrique
  • 09 March 1988: Vakaringa Dombo (v/a cassette - The Pocket Womad) WOMAD
  • 11 April 1988: Faka Puresha (LP - Hupenyu Hwepasi) Rugare
  • 18 April 1988: Faka Puresha (CD - Shabini) Discafrique
  • 16 April 1988 (BFBS): Faka Puresha (LP - Hupenyu Hwepasi) Rugare
  • 23 April 1988 (BFBS): Ndipo Mari Yangu (LP - Hupenyu Hwepasi) Rugare
  • 02 May 1988: Simbimbino (LP - Tsvimbodzemoto) Discafrique
(JP: Any African country beginning with Z is awash with devastating guitar players.)
  • 04 August 1995: Dai Ndakaziva (LP - Shabini) Discafrique (played as a tribute after death of Biggie Tembo)
  • 12 August 1995 (BFBS): Dai Ndakaziva (LP - Shabini) Discafrique (played as a tribute after death of Biggie Tembo)
  • 20 August 1995 (BBC World Service): Dai Ndakaziva (LP - Shabini) Discafrique (played as a tribute after death of Biggie Tembo)
Biggie Tembo

See Also

External Links


  1. It seems likely that the date may have been May 1986. See Peel Observer article, 1987-02-15, reprinted in The Olivetti Chronicles, hardback, p.25, and Kershaw, interview.