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 Johnnie Fourie
Johnnie Fourie
Johnnie Fourie
We are so sad at the passing of our dear friend Johnnie Fourie; angry because another SAfrican talent passes on without getting due recognition while they were alive and playing, in their own country; one of many 'hidden history heroes' who, in the past 2 years, has passed on without having heard their HYMAProject recorded work and whom we could not get to interview as promised.

Thankfully I did speak with Johnnie on the phone - and as usual we had a few laughs – he was excited at the prospect of his HY archive recordings being made available for research (not for sale); he was really looking forward to hearing the digitized copies of those desk-mix recordings that we did with him (and many of his bands) over the past 35 years. He never got to hear them......  due to the HYMAProject delays. I have been unable to re-master and digitise Johnnie’s historic recordings.

Cold comfort - Johnnie did mention that one of his pupils (Jonathan) was working on a thesis - for a masters degree - on his life's work.... too late, but Johnnie would be happy to know that South Africa may soon have something a little more comforting than the seldom mentioned or credited studio session recording work he did over the past 5 decades; perhaps in time mainstream SAfrica may get to see / hear what the rest of the international Jazz world and his local live club and concert followers experienced - a cool master and genius at work?

Besides the thesis and a few (too few) SABC transcripts and commercial studio recordings in which Johnnie featured - and a recently issued solo CD (his first in 50 years?) titled: Once upon a Time - 3rd Ear does have many hours of live festival, club and concert recordings (not for sale) as an audio document and tribute to this remarkable man, recognized in the US & the UK (DownBeat magazine) as one of the world's great Jazz guitar players.

Johnnie summed up the state of the commercial music world in the name of one of his bands: THE SHORT ATTENTION SPAN ENSEMBLE.

Love and condolences to Val and son Sean and to all his many musician friends, from 3rd Ear Musicians and the HYMAProject.

Below is the obit from the Mail & Guardian .. the usual media tribute that has no space to mention the Ronnie Scott era in detail, the DownBeat poll and other jazz reviews, Johnnie's influence on a young (flat-mate) John McLaughlin (among many others) - the fact that this Afrikaner son of the soul and the soil has been an active Jazz professional and an inspiration to so many, for 50 years...... etc.

David Marks

Mail & Guardian (SAPA) 20 August 2007

Jazz guitarist Johnny Fourie dies in Jo'burg (That should read Johnnie)
Johannesburg, South Africa

Jazz guitarist Johnny Fourie (70) was a "rare and dedicated" musician, friends said in a tribute following his death in Johannesburg on Sunday, just months after releasing his debut album, Once upon a Time.

"His family, students and fans will sorely miss him," they said in a statement.

Born Jan Carel Fourie, his love of jazz was kindled as a teenager and he became a professional session guitarist at Gallo, EMI and Trutone, in Johannesburg, starring on the records of the Manhattan Brothers, Lemmy "Special" Mabaso, Spokes Mashiane and Nico Carstens, as well as the Merry Blackbirds.

He went to Soho, London, in 1961, going on to lead the house band at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club for four years.

Fourie also made his mark on the New York jazz scene, playing with, among others, Charles Erland, Hubert Laws, Billy Cobham and Clive Stevens before returning to South Africa in 1975.

He formed the Johnny Fourie Band in 1979 with his son Sean Fourie on keys, Raymond Boshoff on drums and Chris Bekker on bass. He also performed in Carlo Mombelli's group The Abstractions.

It was while teaching in the Pretoria Technikon's jazz department that he formed the Short Attention Span Ensemble, which released its debut album, Fingerprints of the Gods, in 1997.

Fourie's own album, released in April, comprises mainly jazz standards he loved and gives "a snapshot of his late harmonic style", with "the sincerity and love palpable in every passage, every note", said friend and fellow jazz musician Jonathan Crossley.

Funeral details are not yet known. -- Sapa

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