FANS of retro South African music and comedy outfit The Bats are in for special festive treat when the veteran rock ’n’ roll funnymen perform on stage from this week. The quartet bring their show, Loudly South African, for four performances only, to the Heritage Theatre in Hillcrest from tonight.
The Bats burst on to the South African showbiz scene in the mid-1960s when Eddie Eckstein, Paul Ditchfield, Pete Clifford and the late Barry Jarman became wryly known to audiences as “South Africa’s answer to The Beatles”.
Frontman Eddie Eckstein said the band’s spiralling career, much like his personal growth in the music industry, was something of a natural process. “When I left school, I had already started playing in semi-pro bands. I worked at a bank and it got to a point where, before I got married, I decided that I needed to do a year of touring pro,” he said.
Eckstein said that a tour to Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) kick-started their career. “We toured Rhodesia with a bit of standard Swing music mixed with rock ’n’ roll… When we got back from Bulawayo, we started this band and one professional year turned into another,” he said.
The group toured extensively, including in the United Kingdom, Zimbabwe and Germany with their music and comedy show for 16 years. In 1980, with many hit singles under their belt, they decided to go their separate ways and pursue solo careers.
“It got to a point in our career in the late 1970s when we became like furniture, … we found it difficult to get any write-ups from the media and were at a point where all we were trying to achieve was to maintain our status… so we split up,” he said. But their fans just wouldn’t have it, and wherever a former Bats member played a solo gig, people would always ask about The Bats.
By 2000, after a break of about 20 years, The Bats got back together with a concert that “dominoed” into performances at The Baxter Theatre in Cape Town and Emperors Palace in Joburg. “We have carried on since then,” Eckstein said “Things are sometimes a bit slow and then they pick up… We have also just recorded a new song, which we hope to release next year. It is an anti-poaching song… We are really looking forward to being at The Heritage this week. We always have great support… there,” Eckstein said.
The Bats play at The Heritage Theatre from November 8 to 11 at 7pm. They will perform their old favourites, including In a Shabby Little Hut and Who’s That Girl, along with numbers from their new album.
l Tickets at R190 include a two-course meal or R100 for the show only. To book, call 031 765 4197.