By Fidelis Manyange
SOME of the big and successful bands in the world, both modern and classic, have been made up of siblings or family members.
These members have complemented each other on the instruments or vocals.
Mark Knopfler and his younger brother David formed the Dire Straights and became British legends.
The two complemented each other, with Mark on the lead guitar and vocals while David wrote the songs and played the rhythm guitar as well as backing vocals.
Other examples are the popular Jackson Five from which the supremely talented Michael Jackson emerged, the Neville Brothers, the Bee Gees and Austrian-born siblings of classical music, Joseph Haydn and Johann.
Locally, we have had a fair share of siblings and family members forming successful bands.
Simon Chimbetu and his brother Naison came together to form the Marxist Brothers after ZMC producer Chris Matema spotted them performing at Dzivaresekwa Tavern as guest artistes.
Their debut single ‘Nherera’ which also featured the song ‘Kossamu’ on the flip side catapulted them to stardom.
Simon was brilliant at composing and on vocals while Naison was a talented bass guitarist and also did backing vocals.
Learning from his brother, he later became a good composer as witnessed by the hit song ‘Doctor Nero’ which he composed and sang.
The song earned him the nickname, ‘Dr Nero’ that stuck for life.
Later on, the other siblings from the Chimbetu clan, Briam and Allan, joined the band which was then called Orchestra Dendera Kings.
Naison would, however, years later, go on to form his own band, the Great 7 Commandos.
Simon never abandoned his brother as he kept on assisting him musically and materially.
And when Simon was incarcerated for four years after having a brush with the law, his younger brother took over the band and recorded and performed with it. When Chopper was released from jail, he found the band intact.
The R.U.N.N Family also made a name with the hit song ‘Hatichina Wekutamba naye.’ The Sun Jam commercial Inhapitapi chete was also done by the brothers.
It was more of a star-studded family group.
The group consisted of the Muparutsa siblings, Peter, Victor, Blessing, Jerry, the late Fortune, Golden and Tendai.
The group was so good that they shared the stage with acclaimed international artistes such as Misty’n’ Roots, Jimmy Cliff, Harry Belafonte, Manu Dibango, Miriam Makeba and Maxi Priest when they came to play in Zimbabwe.
Later, Fortune left to pursue music as a solo artiste, while Tendai joined Assegai Crew and Peter ‘The Cool Dude’ became a producer who is still at it.
Zexie Manatsa of the ‘Chipo Chiroorwa’ and ‘Tea Hobvu’ fame also teamed up with his brothers Stanley and Sebastian Manatsa in the Green Arrows Band.
All the brothers were good guitar players but it was Stanley’s ‘crying’ guitar which complemented Zexie’s bass guitar to give their music an outstanding mbaqanga and simanje manje flavour.
The band excelled, gaining popularity throughout the country and beyond borders in countries like South Africa and Malawi as Zexie also recorded Chewa songs.
Unfortunately, the fortunes of the band took a nose dive after the band was involved in a horrific accident in the 1990s.
All the band’s instruments were destroyed and Stanley died in the horrific accident.
We cannot talk of musical siblings in Zimbabwe without mentioning the great Rusike Brothers.
They were born of musical parents; the father was a member of the Boogie Woogie Songstars, a township outfit that played in the early 1960s.
The mother belonged to a Methodist church choir.
The boys started singing at school and later, in Zambia, they formed their group.
The group comprised Philip, Abby as well as twins Collin and Kelly.
They are well known for their hit ‘Cecilia’ and the popular television commercials in which they took part like Ngwerewere sadza.
The Rusike Brothers are well known for penning Rozalla Miller’s hits like ‘Party Nights’ and ‘Forever’.
They toured many European countries and worked with record labels such as Red Bus Studios.
Three rural brothers who came all the way from Nyamaropa to work as garden boys in Harare became the darling of sungura lovers throughout the country and even in Mozambique with their first recording.
These were Tedious, Jabulani and Michael Matsito, better known as Ngwenya Brothers and they churned hit after hit at the ZMC stable.
Together they recorded hits such as ‘Nyaradzo’, ‘Gede mwana gede’ and ‘Manyemwe emhuru’.
Later on they were joined by the other siblings Albert and Edward.
All the brothers were excellent instrument players, from drums to bass guitar.
The band was negatively affected by the death of Jabulani and Michael and the biggest blow was the ailment which left Tedious unable to continue with the music business. He has now since turned to farming.
Chakanetsa, Vary and Spencer Khumulani are other siblings who took the music scene by storm.
Together they formed the Gakamoto Jumbo Stars in Mazowe in 1992.
The group recorded hits such as ‘Chiramwiwa’, ‘Chirangano’ and ‘Mukuwasha Dondo’.
The late Chakanetsa, who passed on in 2011, was the rhythm guitarist as well as vocalist while Vary played the lead, with Spencer on bass.
It is Gakamoto which nurtured Spencer to become one of the best bassists in the country.
He played with Tongai Moyo, Somandla Ndebele, Energy Mutodi and is now back at Utakataka Express with Peter Moyo.
Mahendere Brothers, whose career in the music industry spans 23 years, is a family band which has stood the test of time.
Though they seem to pursue solo projects now, they always come together from time to time to record as Mahendere Brothers.
Like the Rusike brothers, they were born from musical parents. They started singing in the AFM Church.
Ackim, Amos, Misheck and Michael recorded their first single ‘Pasi riya rapinduka’ which was a hit on the ZBC-TV programme Mvengemvenge and the radio.
Michael, now a pastor, participated in the song and video when he was only seven years old.
Amos and his brothers managed to share the musical stage with the likes of Jordan Chataika, Mechanic Manyeruke , Shuvai Wutaunashe and Brian Sibalo.
The members are all still alive and doing well in the music industry.
Thomas Mapfumo has for many decades been working with his brothers Lancelot and William Mapfumo in his group the Blacks Unlimited.
Nicholas Zakaria teamed up with his brother Zakaria Zakaria in Khiama Boys while Oliver Mtukudzi succesfully worked well with his young brother, the late Robert Mtukudzi, in the Black Spirits.
Chazezesa Challengers was made up of brothers, System, Peter and Isaac Tazvida.
These siblings have definitely lit up the local music scene.