Bio details:  Born in Northern Rhodesia
Instruments:  Piano/keyboards

Musical Career

Hennie was born in the Zambian town of Nkana before relocating, as a one year old, to Mufulira where he was to spend the first decade of his life.  During these years he attended the Mufulira Mine school.  HB_Studio-1His father was a boilermaker on the mine and neither of his parents were musically inclined ~ nor were any of his four brothers!  In 1945, at the age of 11, Hennie’s parents moved to the suburb of Hillside in Bulawayo where he completed his junior schooling at Milton before going on to the Bulawayo Technical High School.

Hennie’s first musical influence came from two enormously talented aunts, stirring a great desire within him to learn the piano.  Essentially self taught, he came to the attention of Sholam Middledorf, an extremely good piano tutor who gave lessons from home.  Although never formally a student of Middledorf’s, the piano tutor took it upon himself to invest time in the young Hennie, guiding him and taking many hours to discuss, describe and explain musical issues to him.  Later on, Hennie would deputise for his mentor at gigs at the ever popular Warnborough Mansions venue.

Grey's Inn-1954
SWING TIME AT GREY’S INN, BULAWAYO, IN 1954. Hennie on piano, Bob Curry on drums and Scott Alexander on alto saxophone.

Hennie did not participate in any school musical activities being content to find his own path through life.  In his early years he was influenced by George Shearing, Art Tatum and the big bands and jazz of the 40’s and 50’s.  In latter years these influences grew to include the music of the 60’s and onwards, Vangelis and many others.

Hennie joined his first band as a 15 year old, the Bulawayo group YOUTH MARVELS.  From there he progressed into the professional ranks, as an 18 year old, in the mid-50’s to THE GERRY DE VOS BAND.   The other members of this band were Gerry De Vos on guitar and violin and Noel Kidwell on bass.  He remained with Gerry for five years playing many gigs at the New Carlton Hotel.


For a short time, thereafter, he co-hosted a “live” daily early morning radio broadcast for the Rhodesia Broadcasting Corporation, alongside Leslie Sullivan.  He then returned to performing, creating a trio of musicians playing a residency at Salisbury’s The Chicken Inn at the Punch Bowl Hotel.  The other members of the trio were Eddie Van Dierman on drums and Doug Graham on bass.  Their repertoire comprised mostly top 40 hits and latin music.

In April, 1962, Hennie relocated to South Africa where, with little money and prospects, he succeeded in landing a job with Gallo Records as a staff music director and producer.  Here it was that he started to write, produce and record commercial jingles.  He also continued to gig in jazz clubs, particularly The Montparnasse in Hillbrow, a leading venue of the day.  During these years he played with many distinguished musicians and groups, including Tony Moore, Kevin Kruger, Malcolm Watson, Eddie Payne, Profile, Music Corporation, Johnny Kongos, The Four Saints and The West Coast Giants.

4 Saints-Durban

Hennie quickly built a glowing reputation for himself within the music industry for his boundless energy, commitment, passion and, of course, his obvious, if unschooled, natural talent.  He was soon independent enough financially to leave Gallo and he continued with his activities, spending time in the United Kingdom.  He worked extensively in London as musical director of the Duchess Theatre (West End) and played the keyboards for stage productions such as Isabel’s A Jezebel and wrote scores for films, including ‘Tigers Don’t Cry’.   He also produced records with Emil Dean Zoghby on Magna Carta’s “Prisoner On The Line” album (1979).

Hennie’s curriculum vitae over the following years includes the following:

Late 1962 – The Colony Night Club – Johannesburg

  • Hennie Bekker – piano
  • Doug Graham – bass (another Rhodie!)
  • Pat Higgins – drums
  • Eddie Payne – trumpet and vocals

1963 – Bretts – Salisbury

  • Hennie Bekker – piano
  • Doug Graham – acoustic bass, bass guitar, flute and percussion
  • Tony Moore – drums
  • Eddie Payne – trumpet and vocals

1964 – Club Navale – Luanda – Angola

  • Hennie Bekker – piano and vibes
  • Doug Graham – acoustic bass, bass guitar, flute and percussion
  • Derrick Graham – vocals
  • Eddie Van Diermen – drums

1964 – The Riviera Hotel – Durban

Same line-up as above.

1965 – The Mikado – Johannesburg

Same line-up as above.

1969 – The Hennie Bekker Band – Bretts – Johannesburg

  • Hennie Bekker – piano and organ
  • Johnny Boshof – bass and percussion (another Rhodie!!)
  • Tony Moore – drums
  • Jeff Sonn – saxophone, flute and vocals
  • Eddie Payne – trumpet and vocals

1973 – The Hennie Bekker Band – The Branch Office – Johannesburg


  • Hennie Bekker – keyboards
  • Judy Page – vocals
  • John Fourie – guitar
  • Johnny Boshof – bass
  • Lofty Schultz – saxophones and flutes
  • Eric Norgate – trumpet
  • Tony Moore – drums

1973 – Profile – The Branch Office – Johannesburg

  • B-Office-4 GuysHennie Bekker – keyboards
  • John Fourie – guitar
  • Johnny Boschof – bass
  • Lofty Schultz – saxophones and flutes
  • Eric Norgate – trumpet
  • Kevin Kruger – drums and vocals

In 1987, Hennie and his wife, Jacky, decided to leave South Africa and emigrate to Canada.  At 54 this was a significant challenge which confronted them with Hennie fearful as to whether he’d be able to make it in a new, and strange, environment.  Initially he struggled to get established in Toronto until he was put in contact with John Parry of Parry Music.  Impressed by Hennie’s demos, he was asked by Parry to score and produce music for the company.  The rest, as they say, is history!

Hennie BekkerOver the next three years, Hennie made six instrumental albums for Parry, as well as 10 instrumental albums for Sound Ideas.  He attributes their survival in Canada to the income generated by these albums.  At the suggestion of  Parry, Hennie was engaged by Solitudes Limited to combine music with Dan Gibson’s wildlife sounds.  This resulted in the emergence of Hennie’s own new age recordings which were released through Solitude.  The first release, “Harmony” in 1989, has since sold over 400 000 copies worldwide.  He has since released 13 nature sounds/music albums.  His latest offering, entitled “Mirage”, was released in January 2007.   Now 64, he has been nominated for one of Canada’s most prestigious music awards, the Juno Award, for top instrumentalist of the year.

BKSAside from all this, Hennie has also taken the opportunity to demonstrate his diversity by being a  member of the popular BKS techno-dance group.  Their album – “Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Techno” – is setting the pace in rave music clubs across Canada.  B stands for Bekker, K for George Kavanagh and S for Toronto DJ Chris Sheppard.

Hennie’s late son, Barry, was also an exceptional musician.  He was born in Mufulira and relocated to Johannesburg as a 17 year old to join his father.  Partnering with Colin Shapiro – as the “Musicos” – he did many highly acclaimed movie sound tracks, as well as radio and television commercials in South Africa.  He subsequently also moved to Canada where he wrote, produced and recorded a number of outstanding albums before his untimely death.

Internet references:

Official website site




My Space


You Tube