Bra Hugh graces SA Rolling Stone's debut

23 November 2011 - 02:13

Jazz legend Hugh Masekela held nothing back in an interview with Rolling Stone SA's editor-in-chief Miles Keylock in the magazine's debut edition, which is out this week.

The renowned 72-year-old trumpeter was revealed as the artist on the magazine's first cover.

Keylock said yesterday that the choice of Masekela would help the magazine "make a statement" in a country notorious for not celebrating its icons until they are dead.

"For me it was important to reflect what Rolling Stone is about and has been about for the past five decades. We thought of Bra Hugh because not only is he more relevant now than ever before, but he has also led a wild and wonderful life," Keylock said.

Rolling Stone, which built its reputation during the 1970s in the US, evolved into an influential voice on popular culture in the 1990s with a balance between music and politics.

Masekela speaks about his friendships with other legends including Miles Davis, Malcolm X and Marvin Gaye, Sly Stone and even Jimi Hendrix.

But he also opens up about his demons - his battles with alcohol and drug abuse during "cocaine nights", which many a musician - including Hendrix himself, British soul singer Amy Winehouse and Janis Joplin - all succumbed to.

Masekela is quoted as saying: "I'm lucky to be sitting here and talking to you about it.

"The saddest thing is that it was illegal for Africans to drink liquor in this country until 1961. So drinking became not only a form of resistance, but also a form of defiance."

In his typical nonchalant and frank style, during a recording session - where Keylock was present - Masekela also dispensed pearls of wisdom, saying: "P**sy is the gateway to the earth. But we disrespect it . What guy hasn't treated his lady badly by f***ing around, huh?"

Keylock notes: "Rock is not strictly a musical genre, it's an attitude, it's about surviving the madness of contemporary existence . Hugh knows who he is, and it's a miracle that he is still here with us, and we need to treasure this."

Amid volatile economic times (the magazine costs R34.95) and the unpredictable local magazine industry, how will Rolling Stone fare?

"As a whole, people have been rhapsodic in their response and that speaks volumes about the kind of material that people want to read in South Africa," said Keylock.

"Our advertisers have been fantastic . rather than focusing on the volatility, we have to focus on what we do and at the end of the day if something is good enough it should find its readers."