Obituary: Emil Zoghby: Sixties pop idol who became successful music producer
Emil Zoghby, who has died in Mpumalanga at the age of 72, was a versatile singer, composer and producer who was extremely popular in South Africa in the 1960s.
When he performed, it was standing room only.
Under the stage name Emil Dean he recorded two hit singles in 1965: Key to Your Heart, which was number three on the charts, and How the Mighty Hath Fallen, which went to six.
In 1967 he went to the UK where, under the name Emil Dean Zoghby, he had some minor hits and appeared on British TV.
His break came when he wrote, performed and sang in the 1970 West End hit Catch My Soul, a rock musical based on Othello, produced by the American Jack Good. It ran for five months, with Zoghby playing one of the leads as Montano, governor of Cyprus.
He produced a number of acts in London, including highly acclaimed Canadian heavy rock guitarist Pat Travers and South African singer Billy Forrest, and was very active in the music publishing company Chappell Music.
He provided a haven and, using his impressive network of contacts, was a springboard for many aspiring South African musicians. His was the first door those with the smallest hope of breaking into the music industry in the UK would knock on.
He invited countless South African music hopefuls to doss down on the floor of his lounge in the London suburb of Chiswick and took them along to the studio as backing singers in acts he was producing.
"I can't sing," they would say. "Don't worry, you'll do fine," he assured them. And mostly they did.
Through all this he always said he wanted to return to South Africa and get involved with local black music. He did so with some success after coming back in 1980. He produced Mara Louw and gospel singer Lazarus Kgagudi, and worked on live shows with Brenda Fassie, among many others.
Zoghby was born to Lebanese parents in Mayfair, Johannesburg, on February 9 1942, the youngest of 11 siblings, nine boys and two girls. He matriculated at Mayfair High School.
He started singing at the age of seven and recorded his first songs in his teens. He was living with his mother, Magboobi, who got so sick and tired of his fans, mostly young women, phoning up at all hours and even coming to the house demanding to see him, that she sent him to live with his brother.
In the early 1960s he sang with The Magnificent Seven (all six of them). In 1965 he signed with CBS and became a singing idol in South Africa and Mozambique.
He was very good on stage, winning over audiences with his generosity and warmth.
The fact that he looked and sounded a bit like Elvis Presley helped too, although he never tried to imitate him.
His effect on people was equally mesmerising offstage. He would get people to sit round him in a circle at parties and picnics and hypnotise them.
He retired to Graskop in Mpumalanga, where he ran a guesthouse with his partner.
He is survived by his partner, three brothers and one sister. -