I left RTV sometime around 1972/3 and joined Teal Records as a rep.
The Manager was a 5 feet 6 inches, chain smoking, compulsive gambler called Jimmy Connors. He was also one of the nicest people I have ever known. Teal used to operate out of a building in Manica Road in the top floor of what used to be a bank, but was then mainly a Production House in competition with the main music production company- APL.
Teal played very much second fiddle to Gallo who were tied up with Martin Locke and Spinalong. Although Gallo had the lion’s share of International artists, Teal had such artists as Barbara Ray, Gert Potgeiter, John Edmond, and Richard Jon Smith. In those days there was an inordinate loyalty towards both local and South African artists and, along with labels such as Atlantic and RCA, they managed to satisfy both the European and African markets sufficiently to stay profitable.
I joined Gallo in 1975 and remained with them until 1980. This was a different ball game as Martin Locke basically dominated the market. In addition to enjoying a mutually beneficial relationship with Gallo, he was now presenting the “Lyons Maid” hit parade. At one stage, nine out of ten records were from the Gallo stable. From owning “Spinalong” in Stanley Avenue he moved into Barbours, Greatermans, Kingstons, the OK Bazaars and a shop in Gordon Avenue. The only independents left were Radio Ltd. with Grahame behind the bar, Odette in Clintons, Peter Cochrane at Audio Enterprises in First Street, Nick Benetar’s Radio City and the unique E.T Potters run by Irene and Bobby Potter. Latterly a small record bar called P.J,s opened at the bottom end of Gordon Avenue, (just before the main Post office), run by Pete and Jean Anderson, who became very good friends and drinking companions!
RTV used to run a locally produced programme, “Sound Out”. The Director was a guy named Rob Brewer. We used to supply him with videos, when available, for his programme. These usually were off-air recordings from Top of the Pops, but were gratefully received. He and I became good friends and remained so until his death in a terrorist ambush. His wife Terry had previously worked for Teal. Sometime after his death she married Tony Locke, (Martin’s brother). Tony went into hospital for an operation on an ulcer and died on the operating table.
Once a month I would go on a Sales run to Kariba and Umtali. The Kariba run would include – in Banket – the Dardigans, Mr. and Mrs., both killed during the war; the Good News Bookshop in Sinoia and Mr Maidment in Karoi. After a quick “couple” ones at the Elephant’s Walk motel it was a case of bugger it all, Kariba here I come. Luckily there was a garage in Kariba, (probably the only one), that used to stock cassettes. This justified the stay, invariably planned for a Friday, that meant a weekend alternating between the Cutty Sark, Venture Cruises, Lake View and the Heights Hotel. (Carribea Bay wasn’t even a gleam in a developer’s eye).
The Umtali run was, in its own way, just as pleasant. First stop was Marandellas Electrical, run by a lovely lady called Mrs Kopecke, Nolan Electronics in Rusape, then Meikles, Spinalong, Radio Ltd.,and various small time outlets in Umtali. An overnight in the Cecil Hotel preceded by a piss up in the Wise Owl Motel.
Another hilarious occasion presented itself when the MD of Gallo in Bulawayo, Vernon Rose, decided to pay a visit to Salisbury and offered to take me to lunch. The restaurant selected was the Pink Panther steakhouse and, after a cursory glance at the menu, Vernon ordered a steak tartare. When the plate of lovingly prepared raw minced steak was placed in front of him it was something of a shock! To Vernon’s credit he duly ate the dish without flinching. The only “casualty” was the Pink Panther which was not visited again by us!
Of course this was all too good to last. While Gallo was selling its ABBA, Carpenters, Beatles Greatest Hits and the cream of International labels to a discerning but dwindling White population, Teal were rounding up as many African artists as they could lay their hands on. Their speciality was “Chimurenga” songs, praising the freedom fighters and extolling the virtues of a new Zimbabwe. These, of course were banned by the RBC which only increased their sales. They were also being promoted by a pirate radio station transmitting from Mozambique run by an ex-RBC presenter, Webster Shamu, under the Chimurenga name of Cde. Charles Ndhlovu, (he later returned to Zim., and became a Minister with something to do with broadcasting).
Gallo eventually disintegrated, Teal changed its name to lose its South African connection, and I decided that the game wasn’t worth it and joined an ITV company in the Channel Islands.
Although for me the wheel has turned a full circle, God knows, it was fun while it lasted!
Other characters in the play: