Circa: 1920 – 1972
Eduardo Matos was a classically trained pianist who had studied in Lisbon, France and Germany. He initially arrived in Africa in the mid-1920’s with the Gypsy Orchestra. Not long after, and whilst still on tour, he became smitten with one of our lovely Rhodie lasses whom he was soon to marry. The couple then moved to South Africa where his stay was short-lived as he could not obtain a work permit. Not wishing to leave southern Africa they relocated to Lourenco Marques, remaining there for seventeen years. Eduardo was the resident pianist at the Polana Hotel and was the first musician to play on the Radio Club of Mozambique. This station later became LM Radio.
He then successfully re-applied for a South African work permit and played at the LM Restaurant and worked, also, with the SABC symphony orchestra under the Anto Hardman.
In 1962 Eduardo moved to Rhodesia where he settled in Bulawayo. Regular work in Bulawayo, however, was not easy to come by and so, after a year in that city, he moved to Salisbury. There he managed to land a residency at the Meikles Hotel, as well as playing a regular gig at the Ambassador Hotel. He also taught piano and proved a popular and skilful tutor, amassing many pupils over the years. Many a visiting performer from South Africa or overseas would take lessons with him during their seasons in Salisbury.
Eduardo resided and taught at 11 Baker Avenue, the name being the inspiration for his son’s band, the BAKERSVILLE 5 which would emerge some time later. Amongst the musicians who took lessons at 11 Baker Avenue were Johnny Gibson (Johnny Gibson & The Gamblers) and Mick Spooner (Peanut Butter Conspiracy).
In 1970 a Brazilian band commenced a season at Brett’s Night Club. Shortly after their arrival, having heard about the Portugese pianist who lived and taught in the city, the pianist sought him out to meet him. Having been introduced at 11 Baker Avenue, the visiting pianist asked Eduardo to play a couple of pieces for him. In response to this request, Eduardo immediately played some Latin American tunes. The visiting Brazilian pianist, who was no mean musician in his own right, was so impressed that he also started lessons with his host!
A fortnight later there was a knock at the door and, when opened, there was Eddie Calvert standing on the step. Eddie said that he had heard about Eduardo’s talents from Johnny Gibson and was hoping that he could prevail upon to show him his skills. This he did and suitably impressed Calvert who invited him to attend one of his cabaret performances at La Boheme. Eduardo accepted the offer, and accompanied by his son, they attended the show. It was during this performance that Eddie Calvert introduced him to the audience as “one of the most incredible pianists he had ever seen or heard”!
Not long after the pianist in the Brazilian band fell ill and asked Eduardo to stand in for him. Victor Gomes (Portugal’s answer to Tom Jones at the time) was appearing in cabaret, backed by the band. When Eduardo was asked to attend rehearsals he replied that it was not necessary ~ all he needed were the musical scores on the night and he would deliver! (None of the musicians involved realised that he could sight-read).
Needless to say, and despite the lack of rehearsals, the evening was a resounding success. So much so that, when the Brazilians took their leave of Salisbury, they asked Eduardo to join them as, in their opinion, he was “wasted” in Africa. He had no intention of leaving, however, and remained in the country performing and teaching throughout the years until he passed away at the Andrew Fleming hospital in 1972.
Eduardo’s talents also manifested themselves in his children, Eddie and Fran. He tried to teach Eddie the rudiments of piano playing at a young age, however, the young man’s heart was set on playing the guitar. Recognising this, Eduardo taught him some basic chords and scales. It was not long before Eduardo started to use Eddie in his band which, at that time, was nothing more than a trio comprising piano, drums and rhythm guitar. Many of these functions were events like weddings at the local Portugese club.
It was during this period that they were joined by a young Portugese chap from Angola called Rui Castelho. Rui had a very pleasing voice and could sing in Portugese and English. They performed regularly at the Seven Miles Hotel and the Lake McIlwane Beer Garden on Sundays! Further afield they appeared at the Mazoe Hotel, Karina Hotel and various venues in between the two. Eddie was all of 17 years old at the time.
In 1965 Eduardo’s daughter, Fran, moved up from Johannesburg and became the band’s lead vocalist. A new drummer, Joe Castello (no relation to Rui), joined the fold full of energy and enthusiasm! Eddie tried his hand at singing but realised that it wasn’t his forte, leaving the vocals to sister Fran and Rui. The band appeared on a television show hosted by Geoffrey Atkins on which Rui sang “Cukkoroo Paloma” in Spanish! The response from the television audience was a very positive one and gigs flowed in. A regular gig on Friday and Saturday nights at the Golden Dragon Chinese Restaurant was also landed.
It was at this time that Rui, the band’s drummer, decided to start his own band with a few friends, amongst whom was a Portugese organist called Juanito who had arrived from Beira. Not surprisingly, he had been having lessons with Eduardo. Thus was born the NITE STARS.
Eduardo roped in one his aspiring pupils, Peter Bishton, to replace Rui. As a result of these personnel changes they lost their regular gig at the Golden Dragon. The band set themselves to practicing with commitment and Eddie tried his hand again at singing. As with his previous attempts, he was not an immediate success! Influenced by the Shadows Eddie started to hone his guitar skills. It was during this phase that he started to pay a lot more attention to Trini Lopez. His singing started to improve, as did his “ear” and rhythm guitar skills. The band still lacked a bass player and, when Eddie suggested to his father that they engage one, his response was that he should pursue this on his own as he, Eduardo, wanted to concentrate on his teaching activities. Eddie respected his father’s wish and started to scout around for additional band members.
Peter Bishton knew of a bass guitarist, as well as a lead/rhythm guitar player. Eddie asked that they be introduced and so it was that Mike Reed and Jimmy Irvine emerged on the scene. Mike was actually in the throes of teaching Jimmy, a recently arrival from Scotland, how to play guitar. It wasn’t soon after this that Peter decided to leave the band. He was replaced by a drummer called Rodrigues and the band, the DIONS, came into being.
To follow the continuation of this story please refer to DIONS under “BANDS”.
SEE ALSO BAKERSVILLE 5 UNDER ‘BANDS’