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Andy Brown was an enigma


Sometime last year I wrote an open letter to the late Andy Brown highlighting how he betrayed his career by engaging in politics.

I mentioned how his involvement in the Hondo yeminda crusade was a blunder that buried his promising career.

To be frank, Brown was talented and he was one of the few musicians who caught the attention of an international recording label, when Sheer Sound of South Africa decided to take him on board.

Then, Brown was an enigma, his guitar playing skills took the music industry by storm and many will admit he was one of the best lead guitarists in the country.

Even when he opened his home studio there were signs he would be a very good producer. But something just did not click as he ventured in these various projects.

He cast himself into a political dungeon that has claimed the careers of many musicians locally. Being involved with a political party and pushing any political agenda has proved a fatal mistake for local musicians and Brown was a victim of this misfortune.

But, as we blamed him for this mistake and as fans abandoned him, one thing no one could take away from Brown was his talent.

The way he strummed the lead guitar was exceptional and many fellow musicians admitted they could not match his prowess.

I knew Brown for many years and we discussed various issues every time we met, but of late he had become suspicious of my intentions when we talked because I would always remind him, through articles, that he had cast his career into an abyss.

Brown had seething anger for reporters from the private media because he felt they had destroyed his career by criticising his political allegiance.

I remember when we met at Gordon “Flash Gordon” Mutekedza’s studio in the avenues area on several occasions and he would brag of his versatility and accuse enemies of being behind his downfall.

We also met backstage at a number of shows and he would always blame the private media of being unfair to him. He was angry with everyone from the private media. Because of this attitude, he would at times threaten reporters, but he would never take any action because he had this friendly and humorous character that many did not recognise.

I realised his friendliness and humour when we attended a Music Crossroads Inter-regional final in Livingstone, Zambia in 2010.

Brown had a show in Victoria Falls and he decided to cross the border to support young musicians from his country taking part in the regional competition.

He got along very well with the late designer and freelance journalist Novell Zwangendaba with whom we stayed in Zambia.

When Brown arrived in Zambia, we had fun and drank together. He would always crack jokes, but he always made it a point that he did not want to be misinterpreted.

We then travelled to a certain village where Music Crossroads finalists held their community performance. We played mini-soccer and laughed at how the game used to be popular here some years ago.

We also drank opaque beer (Shake Shake) — that was no longer available in the country — and marveled at how people in that country were treated and always reminded each other that our economy back home was in serious challenges.

Brown would laugh at them and remind them they had gone through a similar situation. At one time he joked with us saying, “We will end up being offered pig intestines here.”

That was Brown’s lighter side, but those that have followed music will reckon he had immense talent.
I last met him at the 21st Movement Gala in Chipinge, but he did not look fit. That defiance and seriousness with which he did his business was gone, but he still cracked a few jokes.

Many musicians who worked with him admit he was a talented musician who could have made astonishing strides internationally had politics not claimed the glittering part of his career.

From his days with Ilanga and his exciting combination with ex-wife Chiwoniso Maraire until he groomed his daughter Amara, Brown exhibited expertise.

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