"... Laat Die Wiele Rol, O Jackson ..."
Farewell to Jackson
by Moonshine Lee, 16 July 2001
The 'fifth' member of Jack Hammer, Hendry Jackson, jets out to Chicago USA
tonight (16.07.2001) to pursue business interests there for awhile. A close
and long standing friend, supporter, stalwart of the 'Hammer' over the past
23 odd years.
We celebrated two farewell gigs for Jackson in Pretoria, which is Jackson's
hometown, over the past weekend. Friday night (13.7.2001) saw a packed Café
Barcelona, in Erasmuskloof, bid a fitting farewell to our 'Brother-in-Arms'
with some seething rock 'n' roll from Jack Hammer. The short tour the Hammer
and Johnathan Martin had in the UK in June, and having seen the likes of
Neil Young, AC/DC and Buddy Guy live, has certainly put a razor sharp edge on
their music. And bring the house down they did. What a send off ....'Laat
die wiele rol, ou Jackson.............'
Sunday afternoon (15.7.2001) the celebrations moved to Glen Afrique, an
exquisite bush pub situated in the midst of a game farm near
Hartebeespoortdam. A better venue for the 'grand finale' ala bush style,
one could not have asked for. The Hammer, Johnathan Martin with Mervin Davis
on mandolin, bid their farewells to their good friend the only and best way
they know, through their music....... (after all that's what formed this
bond in the first place!)
Jackson we wish you well and don't see this as the end of an era, but in
fact the start of something new. We're sure you'll be keeping your eyes and
ears open for opportunities in the Chicago scene and we look forward to a
time when we can meet up there with you.
For now, we want to say that it had been an honour and a privilege to have
walked this road with you for the past 23 years. My friend, we're sure
going to miss you, but by the same token this break could not have
happened to a finer man.
Moonshine Lee, The Hammer, Jono the Kid Martin, Tertius and the Duke.
Roadies but Goldies — rock's unsung heroes. The story of
Jackson, the fifth Hammer on the Jack and the road less
by Bert Badgrass, January 2001
glorious beast we call rock 'n roll gains in strength and finds new voices
all the time, the vital role of the roadie is ritually overlooked and
These unsung heroes who travel the length and breadth of
the land, setting up the stage for the band, slinking back into their
no-man's land to savour the sounds during the gig, only to reappear when
everybody's gone home to pack up and head off for the next
Often running on empty - with apologies to Jackson Browne —
these are truly the guys who live the rock 'n roll lifestyle to the full.
Without the glamour that performance brings.
And often, as is the
case with Jack Hammer's Jackson, it is a labour of love. Guys who plugged
in to the alternative vision which rock offered way back when the world
was young. Guys who bought, hook, line and sinker, the dream of peace and
love offered by these "other" voices.
I caught up with Jackson at
that national monument to consumerism — one of several in which have been
erected in honour of Mammon in our land, mind — Menlyn Park in
He was busy with his daytime job — installing
surveillance cameras, another latterday necessary evil, for an electronics
company. Remember the days when the only Big Brother we gave the thumbs-up
to was the one who headed the Holding Company, which backed Janis Joplin?
Ah well ... so it goes.
Jackson and The Hammer (aka Piet Botha) go
way back to the late
1970s when Piet was playing with Abno at the Keg
and Tankard in
Pretoria. (Jacks and I go back even further: Palm Grove,
December '72 — '76. Remember Shalima etc? As ex-Traffic
Jim Capaldi had it: Oh How We Danced!)
"I just started
hanging out with Piet, digging his music and what he was doing. We became
friends and I just helped out where I could as far as electronics were
concerned. I sort of formally became Jack Hammer's roadie — this was
during their first incarnation — in the mid 80s.
"This was when we
got the gig at Grand Central and the band did a
light show. They needed
someone who knew something about being a
sparks and, well, I just
naturally filled that role.
"In those days, the members included
Piet and guys like Boet Faber, Paul van Eeden, Derek Riley and Eric
Birkenstock — I have seen many Jacks, so to speak, come and go in my time,
I tell you."
There's hardly an area of South Africa where Jack
Hammer hasn't performed in the past 15/16 years or so. Still, it's been an
unusual take on life, says Jackson — definitely the road less
Jacks does it for the love of it and out of his
admiration for the band. "When we're on the road, I'm looked after in
terms of food and accommodation etc (plus, of course, a few other perks,
not to mention temptations) but I don't want money.
means that the guys in the band get less. Yeah, I guess you could say it
is a labour of love, although Piet does help me out if the need
Altruistic or what?
In addition to taking care of
the nuts and bolts of setting up etc — although that task these days fail
more and more on the shoulders of guitarist Johnathan ("The Kid") Martin
and bassist Tertius ("Bean") du Plessis — Jacks is also the band's
"When I think they've been hot I'll tell them
that. But when they've, shall we say, fouled up, I tell them straight: 'If
you get 50% better you'll be halfway there.
By the way, drummer
Paul van de Waal is known As The Duke — "because he always looks
Jackson reckons the current Jack Hammer line-up is "just
about the best we've ever had. We've had a few storms in the past, I tell
you; let's say it was down to personality clashes."
Asked what his
high point of his 20 or so years with Piet has been, Jackson singles out
the ZZ Top tour — when Jack Hammer was the support act. "Ah, you know,
everyday is a high point, whenever I hear the guys."
been surrounded by so many great musicians that I count it a
Low points are a bit more mundane — car/van breakdowns
on the road. Once, the band's combi caught fire just outside Bloemfontein.
"A piece of sponge fell out of the engine on to the exhaust and the combi
"Some guys in another car who saw the smoke
billowing out the back pulled us over — we thought we were being attacked
or hijacked, heaven forbid — and helped us put out the fire. That was
close, but we managed to save both the combi and the equipment — the show
had to go on, you know."
The biggest pluspoint of his job as roadie
is meeting lots of different people; "good people and good music". Pressed
on the "temptations" referred to earlier, Jackson laughs and says: "Yeah,
we travelled pretty hard in the old days — these days we take it a bit
As a result of his lifestyle, Jackson prefers the life
of a bachelor. "It's like Ben Dekker said when he was asked if he had ever
been married. He replied: 'No. I've avoided all of life's major
He thinks of himself as an integral part of the band.
"I always talk about 'us' or 'we' whenever we are on the road. More so
when we are in other towns: You know, 'we're' playing at such and such a
Jackson says Piet's Afrikaans work, notably
Suitcase Vol Winter, had allowed them the opportunity to reach a much
wider audience. "We even played in Vredendal on the West Coast. It's great
to see the audience — young and old — sing along with the
Well, that's the great thing about music eh? It breaks down
Jackson favourite songs in Jack Hammer's repertoire
include some early ones, like Must've Been Dreaming and Cameron Road, as
well as some great covers, the Stones' Love In Vain and the Doors' Texas
Radio And The Big Beat.
So yeah: hey, hey, my, my; rock 'n roll
will never die. And to a large extent it is unsung heroes like Jackson who
will ensure that the beast goes from strength to strength.
The growing number of Jack Hammer fans will be happy to hear
that a new Piet Botha & Jack Hammer CD, entitled Bootleg, is now
As the title suggests, it is a live album, recorded at
various locations up and down the country between May 1998 and April 2000,
except for the two opening tracks, The Game and For Annette.
their version of Nick Drake's Northern Sky — which isn't surprising. There
are also some original gems, like Blues Vir Louise, Goeienag Generaal and,
of course, Suitcase Vol Winter — and I tell you, the blues never sounded
so good in Afrikaans.
Led Zeppelin's Tangerine (sung by Johnathan)
is also there and is superb, as are Jack Hammer showstoppers like Runaway
Train and Cocaine Blues. Jackson says the CD is available at live gigs.
Good news is that the lads will be going into the studio towards the end
of the year to record a brand new CD.
Keep on hammering away guys;
we, your fans, are all jacked up! And thanks
Reprinted from Pretoria website