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When Ace and Banks Were Street Buskers

Soccer-Laduma readers, we all know Banks and Ace as great soccer players, but did you know they had other talents too? No, we’re not talking about the way they used to charm the ladies. Did you know that these guys were musically gifted? Ace played the guitar and sang, while Banks played the string bass. What’s a string bass? Read on and you’ll find out!

Peter: Ace, Banks...alive and kicking.

Ace: For sure.

Banks: Oh, man, definitely.

Peter: And, guys, what’s it today, what’s on the menu? 

Ace: Ha, ha. Ask Banksie.

Banks: Let us tell everyone this beautiful story. It was before Ace and I began playing professional soccer. Nobody knows this story. 

Ace: This was before we joined Kaizer Chiefs. We were 15 or 16 years of age. I was playing in Randfontein for Home Stars and Banksie was playing for Zebras.

Banks: But this is not a soccer story. This is a story about how Ace and I used to make money before we became soccer professionals.

Peter: What did you do? 

Banks: There were three of us who used to go and sing and play music on the street corners. Ace was the singer and the guitar player and I was on the string bass. 

Peter: String bass? 

Banks: Yes, lots of guys used to play a string bass in those days. It was a big box of Joko tea, you used to pull it and put a wire on top of it. Then you used a stick on it, so it sounded a bit like a bass. The third member of the band was a guy called Roux, he was jiving while we were playing. He was a hellava dancer. So, it was the three of us - Ace singing and playing guitar, me on string bass and Roux jiving.

Ace: By the way, Roux was a very good soccer player as well. He played for Home Stars …

Banks: In those days there were many Aces and Banks playing for Home Stars and Zebras. 

Ace: Ja, it’s just that the opportunities were not there at the time.

Peter: Amazing, so the three of you were buskers. The famous Ace and Banks...singing before you became soccer stars. Incredible, now let’s hear the whole story.

Ace: Even though it was just the three of us, sometimes all our friends would follow us...there would be 16 of us walking around, singing and dancing. 

Banks: We used to go from city to city, singing on the street corners. People used to stop to watch and hear us, filling our caps with money. 

Ace: We used to play mainly Mbhaqanga music, but we also played other types of music as well.

Banks: Man, we were good. I was hitting the string bass, Ace was singing and man, Ace could really sing. What a voice Ace had.

Peter: Ace, let’s hear you now, brother.

Ace: Ha, ha. Hey, at Kaizer Chiefs in those days we had lots of beautiful singers.

Peter: Who else? 

Banks: Teenage was number one, then Ace. You’d think they were women if you listened to them, they had beautiful voices. Malombo Lechaba was also a very good singer. Only Ten Ten Nzimande, Johnny Mokoena and Bull Lehoko were not such good singers, all the rest of us were.

Peter: The Kaizer Chiefs choir...it must have been beautiful in the dressing room. Okay, let’s go back to playing on the streets...

Ace: Ja, we used to play music in the streets. Some days from lunchtime until early evening, just until it got dark. People would throw us tickies and cents. You know in those days we used tickies to buy things.

Banks: And whenever we went by train, we’d sing and play on the trains. We’d also find out whenever the weddings and celebrations were in Randfontein, and then we’d just arrive there and start playing. The people loved it and used to throw us lots of money.

Ace: In those days there was no electricity, but we still used to play until the early hours of the morning.

Banks: You know, our young readers may not even believe this, but in those days there was no beer, no alcohol. A Black man could get arrested for buying alcohol in those days, it was against the law.

Peter: Ridiculous. Stupid and sad.

Banks: Ja, true. But you know, Peter, in a funny way when I look back now, as much as I hated apartheid, I actually loved that law. In those days, no one was drinking like today. We never knew about this modern alcohol of beer, whisky, brandy and wine. There were no shebeens. You never had the situation that you have today with so much alcohol abuse. 

Ace: The only thing we had was Bantu beer. You know the homemade sorghum beer. And you could only buy it from municipal bars or beer halls, which were only open between 2pm and 5pm. Seriously, the youth in those days were not drinking, especially compared to what’s happening today.

Banks: Also, the sorghum beer only gave you a little bit of a buzz, not like the booze of today. It’s more natural. You know how everyone used to drink less in those days? The youngsters will never believe this.

Peter: How? 

Banks: Well, when we were playing at a wedding or a celebration, someone would go and organise 25 litres of Bantu beer. Then we’d buy those cartons of Wall’s ice cream.

Peter: Ice cream? 

Ace: Ha, ha, yes...

Banks: Yes, and then we’d mix the beer with the Wall’s ice cream. 

Peter: Seriously.

Ace: Ha, ha.

Banks: Yes, seriously. We loved drinking that beer mixed with ice cream.

Ace: It was all foamy and nice and sweet, and it gave us a little buzz.  

Banks: And we used the ice cream cartons as cups to drink out of. It became the fashion to drink beer mixed with ice cream. It came from nowhere and then everyone was doing it. Youngsters, if you don’t believe us, ask the older Soccer-Laduma readers.

Peter: Unbelievable.

Ace: That 25 litres of beer and the ice cream would keep a whole party jiving and singing for the whole night... Hey, man, we never had a dull moment growing up.

Peter: And when did you stop the singing and dancing for money?

Ace: When we started to play professional soccer, then we became too busy, but we loved to play our music on the streets.

Peter: What a story! Banks and Ace - the musicians turned soccer players. Tremendous... By the way, where is Roux these days? 

Ace: I think he’s a marshall at the station...

Peter: Well, gents, that was an incredible story, until next time.

Ace: Yes, take it easy.

Banks: Just like Sunday morning.

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