Veteran radio personality and musician of unique and exceptional talent, Hilton Mambo aka Dr Bobo or Kambezo, has died.
He was 60.
Mambo passed away on Monday morning at the Avenues Clinic where he was admitted about two weeks ago after having breathing problems.
“He passed away this morning (Monday) at the Avenues Clinic after suffering from hernia,” said Mambo’s daughter, Catherine.
Catherine told NewsDay that the family was yet to make funeral arrangements which would be announced in due course.
The popular husky-voiced DJ rose to fame on local radio through jazz music and educational programmes and he was one of the most wanted master of ceremonies.
In an interview with NewsDay columnist Munya Simango about two months ago, Mambo talked about his deep love for music.
“My life has always been music and I have been gaining experience and know-how in broadcasting and recording engineering. I have also developed the ability to reach out and touch people’s lives in a positive way,” said Mambo.
About his family, the DJ said: “I am lucky to have this really cool family; I have six grandchildren and I love them to bits and there is another one on the way. Then there is my friend, my wife Eleanor, she is my best friend and I go everywhere with her.”
Born in 1951, Mambo was bred in the capital’s Mbare Township where he attended Harare Secondary (now High) School.
He at one point worked as a recording engineer who did projects with Zimbabwe’s greatest music giants including Thomas Mapfumo, Oliver Mtukudzi, Zexie Manatsa, Simon Chimbetu and Crispen Mathema.
Mambo cut his teeth in music with the likes of Clancy Mbirimi and David Ndoro in the early 70s and then played with several bands in that period including Boyke Moore’s Soul and Blues Union.
During the peak of his career on air, Mambo worked with DJs like Eunice Goto, Kudzi Marudza, Comfort Mbofana, Tsitsi Mawarire, Admire Taderera, John Matinde, James Makamba and Kelvin Sifelani.
Meanwhile, artistes, workmates and friends of Mambo have described his death as a huge loss.
“He was planning on working on a song with G56. He was always pushing that we do the song. One day he actually said: ‘We need to do it fast because I might die anytime soon. I am not well’.
“To me it is a sad loss. Mambo was really talented. He was a musician and a DJ of note. I was shocked to hear the news of his death,” said producer and musician Clive Mono Mukundu.
Fellow DJ Mbofana said: “He was like a brother, mentor and great friend. We played at a number of venues together for a long time. I am so devastated by this tragic and sad loss.”
Said veteran radio presenter James “JCJ” Makamba: “Kambezo belonged to a rare breed of entertainers. He was a writer, composer, singer, conductor, producer, a rare combination in the industry enjoyed by legends such as Quincy Jones, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder among others. I have worked with him for a period spanning 13 years. He was a friend and artist I admired with great resilient. Kambezo will truly be missed the recording and entertainment industry in Southern Africa and England where he lived for some time. A great guy indeed and a dear friend, will miss him.”
Jazz musician Friday Mbirimi, who grew up with Mambo, described his death as a great loss to the arts industry.
“We grew up together in Mbare. He was a close friend to my younger brother Clancy and our mothers were friends. He was a great musician and a talented radio personality. He knew a lot about jazz music and this is a sad loss,” said Mbirimi.
ZBC spokesperson Sivukile Simango said: “It is a loss to us and our listeners. Mambo was a part-time presenter/producer with
SFM. We will see what we can do as an organisation to assist the bereaved family.”
At the time of his death, he was concentrating on playing in clubs and would also have slots on radio. He is survived by his wife, Eleanor, four children: Catherine, Devon, Hilton Jr and Caryn, and six grandchildren.
Mourners are gathered at his house at 74 Twentydales Road, Hatfield.