South Africa’s biggest selling reggae artist, rastafarian and one of its most outspoken performers, Lucky Philip Dube, was born on 3rd August, 1964 in Ermelo, formerly of the Eastern Transvaal, now of aMpumalanga. His parents separated before his birth and he was raised by his mother who named him “Lucky” because she considered his birth fortunate after having a misfortune of failed pregnancies.
As a child Dube worked in gardens, but as time went on, he realized that he wasn’t earning enough to feed his family and had to begin attending school. By the age of nine, he was already conducting his school choir and later on with some friends, formed a group called “The Skyway Band”. At the age of 18, Dube joined his cousin Richard Siluma’s band, “The Love Brothers”, playing mbaqanga (zulu pop) music amidst funding himself by working for a company, Hole and Cooke as a security guard at the car auctions. Together with the group, he recorded his first single in 1979, and subsequently an album released under the name “Lucky Dube and the Supersoul”.
In 1984 after his fifth Mbaqanga album, inspired by the controversial lyrics of Peter Tosh, Dube transitioned to reggae and dropped the “Supersoul” part of his name. This transition was sparked by his quest to express his anger against the oppression of apartheid. His earliest attempts with the newly adopted reggae style were met by strong opposition by the then-all-white South African government, and his first reggae mini-album, “Rasta Never Die”, albeit selling poorly, was banned from radio airplay because of its controversial lyrics in songs like “War and Crime”. Not discouraged, he continued to perform the reggae tracks live and wrote and produced a second reggae album, “Think About The Children” in 1985. The album achieved platinum sales status and established Dube as a popular reggae artist in South Africa, in addition to attracting attention outside his homeland.
Dube’s third reggae album, “Slave”, sold more than five hundred thousand copies. In 1989, he won four (4) OKTV Awards for “Prisoner”, won another for “Captured Live” the following year and yet another two (2) for ”House of Exile” the year after. His 1993 album, “Victims” sold over one million copies worldwide.
On 18 October 2007, Lucky Dube was was shot dead by carjackers in the Johannesburg suburb of Rosettenville shortly after dropping two(2) of his seven (7) children off at their uncle’s house.