Circa: 1969 –1970
Home town: Bulawayo
- Andy Demetriou – Lead guitar and vocals
- John Keyser – Rhythm guitar and backing vocal
- Leslie Winderbaum – Bass and vocals
- Mike Cox – Keyboards and vocals (replaced Ric Accorsi when the band turned pro)
- Dave Webster – DrumsThe band’s members attended school at Northlea High in Bulawayo. They recruited keyboardist, Mike Cox, a male nurse who had come out from London to work at Ingutsheni hospital in Bulawayo. John Keyser had previously played with the Merseys, which included Paddy Powell, who had a huge hit with `Mammy Blue` with the band Sounds of Brass, and also the renowned BOKKIE DE BEER, drummer with Johnny Clegg`s band, Juluka.
The origins of the Fruits of Loom lay in the popular Bulawayo band, the PINK CHAMPAGNE. When the Pink Chapagne’s drummer, Ian Webster, was called up for military service his brother, Dave Webster, stepped in on the drums. (Ian subsequently teamed up with the Silhouettes -Butch Cook, Jack Thain & George Felton – to later become LINCOLN). Shortly after Dave’s joining, the band became the `Fruits of Loom` in early 1969.
The story behind the choice of band name is an interesting one. At the time, Dave Webster had been trying to buy some American Levi jeans which, sadly for him, were not to be easily found in Bulawayo. He did manage, however, to buy a pair which bore the label, Fruit of the Loom. During the course of a discussion where the band members were trying to decide upon a new name, Les Winderbaum saw the tag on Dave’s jeans and suggested that they become the `Fruits of Loom`. Needless to say, everyone thought this was a great idea and so the name was adopted! They had a one-room practice pad in town, which involved many all-night sessions in preparation for their “looming” pro career.
The Fruits of Loom’s first big gig was at the Texan Rock Band Contest at the Trade Fair in Bulawayo in 1969. Despite their short time together, the group did well to claim third place. This encouraged them even more to pursue their ambitions of going professional and, on 1st August, 1969 they took the bold step and arrived in Johannesburg. After stepping off the train at Rissik Street Station, they promptly walked around the corner and into R. Muller music shop and put down all the money they had to kit the band out with PA system, bass, keyboard and guitar amps, Farfisa keyboard (remember those?), drums – the works!
Despite undertakings from the Hugo Kelletti agency in Johannesburg in advance of their arrival, the band soon realised that they had been misled and were basically on their own. Part of the problem was that their repertoire consisted mainly of Blues and Underground, playing covers of Uriah Heep, Moody Blues, Deep Purple, John Mayall etc, and they were unknown. The `in-thing` on the SA scene when they arrived was `Bubblegum` – so gigs with their type of repertoire were hard to find. Many bands can attest to this! In order to survive they took any gigs they could find in the Johannesburg area, having `softened` the repertoire and managed to eek out an existence. On one occasion they were booked for a gig in Vereeniging but, having only one car, a Mini, they needed to do three trips back and forth to transport their gear, and themselves, to the gig! Their total fee for the night? R30.00! And that wasn’t each – that was the grand sum! Needless to say it all went into the petrol tank!
After many one-nite-stands all over the Witwatersrand, their endeavours paid off, however, when they were signed to promoter Don Hughes who had had significant success in taking the stage production of Ipi N’Tombi to America. Hughes organised a residency for them opening a brand-new club called “The Black-Out”, at the Langham Hotel in Johannesburg, December 1969. After a month`s contract they were replaced by the well known South African band, the Rising Sons. The Fruits, in turn, went down to the Palm Grove hotel in Margate to replace the Rising Sons! With a new year and a new gig, things were looking up. The Fruits played at the Palm Grove for about 6 months, at which stage John Keyser and Les Winderbaum took the decision to leave the band and return to Bulawayo.
The remaining trio of Andy Demetriou, Mike Cox and Dave Webster decided to continue as a three-piece and adopted the innovative name of the Mad Trio, the Mad comprising their first name initials. One never knows just what’s in a name! They landed a residency gig in Bloemfontein, where Dave finally bought those long, sought-after Levi jeans for R6-50 at a dingy Indian shop near the station! They played in Bloem for a further six months.
In 1971 the trio were introduced to Danny and Anne Armstrong. Danny was a trumpeter and his wife, Anne, a vocalist. Finding that they had common musical interests, the Armstrongs joined the trio, whose name then expanded to The Addam Sound, the name now incorporating the initials of the Armstrongs’ first names. This group played a residency at the Royal Swazi hotel in 1971, followed by gigs at the Kennaway Hotel in East London for six months and then on to Port Elizabeth for six months, where they were the first band to play at the `Room at the Top` in the brand-new 5-star Elizabeth Hotel .
Following the demise of The Addam Sound, Dave Webster teamed up with the Nolan Ranger Four (1973), which included Bruce Boome, the original guitarist with the 4 Jacks and a Jill. The band was booked to play at the Grand Hotel, a gig in Windhoek in what was then South West Africa. When Dave arrived in Windhoek it reminded him so much of Bulawayo that he decided that that was where he wanted to put down his roots, and eventually did so! Today he is happily retired in that city, and still gigging. (Interesting footnote : Dave`s brother Ian plays in a Durban-based band at present called `The Handsome Devils`, which includes, no less, on guitar…Bruce Boome from the 4 Jacks – what a small world it is…!).
As for the other original members of Fruits of Loom…Mike Cox returned to the UK and Les Windebaum lives in Australia. The whereabouts of John Keyser and Andy Demetriou are unknown.