Famous Musicians on Stamps

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Ten Music Legends for Your Stamp Album

South African stamps

In July 2014, South African Post Office issued a set devoted to popular music icons, consisting of 10 self-adhesive stamps and two commemorative envelopes, featuring artwork by artist Vumile Mavumengwana.

The ten musicians honoured on the stamps were chosen for their originality, as well as for the impact they had on the lives of South Africans. All of them are deceased because, according to SAPO’s policy, no living persons can be portrayed on a stamp unless it is the president of a country.

In chronological order of their birth, the ten music legends that are now immortalised on South African stamps are:


South African musicians on stampsSolomon Linda (1909 – 1962). Linda composed the song Mbube, which later became popular as The Lion Sleeps Tonight from The Lion King and recorded it in 1939. It became the first African record to sell over 100,000 copies. Linda died in poverty in 1962. In 2006, in an out-of-court settlement, Linda was recognised as a co-author of Mbube / The Lion Sleeps Tonight and his descendants were granted royalties from world-wide use of the song.



South African musicians on stampsKippie Moeketsi (1925 – 1983). Jazz musician and saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi played with many South African greats:  Abdullah Ibrahim, Jonas Gwangwa, Hugh Masekela and Mirriam Makeba. Unlike many other musicians, who went into exile after the Sharpeville massacre of 1960, Kippie returned to South Africa, but did not perform for years. He died in poverty at the age of 58. Kippies Jazz Club in Newtown was named after him.



Miriam Makeba on stampMiriam Makeba (1932 – 2008). South Africa’s first global star, Miriam Makeba was also a civil rights activist. When she campaigned against apartheid while out of the country in the 1960s, she was forced into exile and her music was banned in South Africa. She returned back home after thirty years and continued touring with her eight member band right up until her death at the age of 76. Her signature song is Pata Pata, first recorded in 1957.



South African musicians on stampsSpokes Mashiyane (1933 – 1972). Johannes ‘Spokes’ Mashiyane was one of the greatest pennywhistle artists on the South African kwela music scene from the 1950s to the 1970s. He was famous for his distinctive style of playing and thanks to him kwela, or penny whistle jive, became the major dance music during this time. Mashiyane was the first black musician in South Africa to receive royalties when Gallo Records convinced him to record for them in 1958.



Simon "Mahlathini" Nkabinde (1938 - 1999). Mahlathini became an international star when he performed with Paul Simon at the Graceland tour in 1986. He was known as the ‘Lion of Soweto’ for his deep-voiced, groaning style that became synonymous with mbaqanga music in the 1960s. Mahlathini was awarded the South African Order of Ikhamanga in Bronze for outstanding contribution in traditional music.



South African musicians on stampsJames Phillips (1959 – 1995). This rock singer, songwriter, and performer gave voice to young, white, male South Africans living in an environment characterised by apartheid, conscription, suppression of political debate and intolerance of non-conformism. Although Bernoldus Niemand was Philips’ only album in Afrikaans, it marked a revolution in Afrikaans music and the start of an Alternative Afrikaans movement.



Johannes Kerkorrel (1960 – 2002). Johannes Kerkorrel was the stage name of Ralph John Rabie, journalist, playwright and singer-songwriter who played a major role in the Alternative Afrikaans music movement in the late ’80s. He was famous for his politically themed cabaret-style music performances. His most popular song is called Hillbrow.




Lucky Dube (1963 – 2007). In his career, which spanned over a quarter of a century, Lucky Philip Dube recorded 22 albums in Zulu, English and Afrikaans. He started with playing mbaqanga and moved on to reggae to become South Africa's biggest-selling reggae artist and one of the world’s greatest reggae superstars. Lucky won over twenty international awards and shared stages with many international artists.



Taliep Petersen (1950 – 2006). One of South Africa's best known theatre personalities, Petersen was a singer, composer and director of a number of popular musicals. He and David Kramer produced District Six: The Musical, Poison, Fairyland, Crooners, Kat and the Kings, Klop Klop and Spice Drum Beat: Ghoema, many of which toured internationally. In 1999, he and Kramer won the Best New Musical Olivier Award for Kat and the Kings.



Brenda Fassie on stampBrenda Fassie (1964 – 2004). Known as the girl with the golden voice, and South Africa’s queen of pop, Brenda Fassie enjoyed enormous popularity. Most of her albums became multi-platinum sellers in South Africa. In March 2006 a life-size bronze sculpture of Fassie by artist Angus Taylor was installed outside Bassline, a music venue in Johannesburg




Technical information from SAPO website

B4 Stamp Sheet:

  • Stamp issue date: 3 July 2014
  • Design: Vumile Mavumengwana and Hendrik Gericke
  • Stamp size: 38 x 29 mm
  • Stamp sheet size: 112 x 205 mm
  • Perforation Gauge: 11-11
  • Paper: Self-adhesive 247 gsm
  • Phosphor: 1700 LFA
  • Gum: (self-adhesive)
  • Print quantity: 100 000 sheets
  • Colour: Pantone Black 6 C 2X
  • Printing process: Offset Lithography
  • Printed by: Cartor Security Printing, France

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