Saturday, 22 July 2017

RIP Errol Dyers, a quiet genius of the guitar.

It is with deep sadness that I heard last night of the passing away of one of the humble giants of South African Music, Mr Errol Dyers. My condolences go out to this family and friends.

Errol Dyers live on stage circa 1982 - (c) P Lee-Thorp

There are many personal moments, some hilarious, that come to mind when I think of Errol.  Some of these are too embarrassing to mention publicly, though none that I regret. I will remember him as a gentle, polite man and a highly talented, some might say old school musician.

He had a long career working with many of the bigger and lesser known names in SA music. My association with Errol goes back to the 1980s, before he focussed his attention on Jazz. He was a talented rock guitarist and session man who played in pop bands and my first chance to work with him was when he supported Lesley Rae Dowling as one of the musicians who played in her live band.

It was as a recording artist and songwriter that I knew Errol best. Firstly as part of the Robbie Jansen group. We were working on Robbie's debut solo album, Vastrap Island,  and Errol was involved in the pre-production sessions. As it turned out he contributed 2 compositions to that album and of course played on the final recordings.

In his later years Errol became more interested in the cultural side of the music he played and he moved to explore the Cape roots more deeply. Our paths crossed many times after the first recordings as a regular member of Robbie's band and as a session player on other productions for my label. In particular I am grateful his part in the tracks on the Cape Jazz records we released.

Later while performing with Basil Coetzee as a part of his duo, having replaced the late Paul Abrahams, Errol came to the studio with Basil to record on what was to be Basil's final solo album, B.  Errol contributed 2 songs to that album as well.

Errol Dyers in Milestone Studios July 2012 - (c) P Lee-Thorp

I was very happy to have his contribution to the last project I worked with him in 2012 and 2013, doing the Cape Jazz Band project, Musical Democracy. He was a full member of the line-up and played on most of the album tracks and contributed as composer and arranger to at least 4 songs. His cheerful Goema melody, NY 29 (Native Yard 29) on that record typifies his style.

Errol was a versatile player with the ability to play different styles on acoustic and electric guitar and he did it with his own personal approach and character.  He will be greatly missed by all in the Cape music scene.  I am comforted by the memory of his friendship and thankful for the many recordings he did for Mountain Records.

A snap of Errol live at Swingers in 2013 in Cape Town, possibly the last time we met.  (c) P Lee-Thorp

Paddy Lee-Thorp
Hamburg, Germany.

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