Ex – South African pop star, Clive Hay, went from writing songs to writing a book.
Hay, well known for the 1980’s hit singles , “Eyes of the Beholder”, “Advice” and “Crimes of the Heart”, recently released his first biography, Magirus: The Story Of A Second-Class Citizen, where he penned some of his most memorable moments of his time in this country and specifically while serving in the South African National Defence Force.
“The book is about my experiences in our army band between 1977 and 1979. It details my personal ups and downs with army life and the ultimate triumph of our journey as a band of musicians and band of brothers. It’s a journey of self-awareness from boyhood to manhood, and a manual of how to use any system to your own advantage,” said Hay.
The book, which Hay describes as a project of love, came about after he read a short blog from another army band veteran who came after him.
“I felt the need to fill in a few gaps and to detail the origins of our army band, Magirus, which was the first such band to be formed in a regular army unit. This led to his ultimate band experience, which was largely due to Magirus’ pioneering works and triumphs,” Hay said.
Describing the book as a light-hearted easy read and a tale of joy and triumph when the odds are against you, Hay is already planning his second and third installment, with the working titles, “Savannah- The Story of A Second- Class Band” and “Church Musician- The Story Of A Second Class Christian”.
Hay however says this first installment will relate to anyone in South Africa who understands army culture and discipline, anyone who has been young and wondering about how their future was going to play out, anyone who has been in a romantic relationship with awkward moments and anyone who has had any involvement in music or a band. It also has its petty envy’s, laughs and good times.
“I’m really hoping that it will stir nostalgic memories for anyone in the world who has been in the armed forces, and who has, or has always wanted to cock a snook at the powers that be. It’s also about how to rebound in the face of extreme disappointment. The value of comradeship and love and believing in oneself in the face of adversity,” he said.
Aside from this new venture he has embarked on, Hay played in bands and also as a solo artist from the time he was 18 years old.
Being a budding musician, he formed the group called “Savannah” in the 1980’s and later went on to play in a band named “Step Aside” and other titled “Soul Tattoo”, before relocating to Sydney, Australia in the year 2000 with his wife, Renata Whaits.
“I was about 13 years old when I realized I wanted to be a singer. Apparently I said to one of the girls at school that “I’m going to be a star”. She later told me that I’d said this to her, after I bumped into in Johannesburg when I was 20. It was only then that the actuality of performing for a living happened,” he said.
He said while growing up in Durban his only mentor at the time was his mother, who played piano and a school friend who encouraged him to listen to Springbok Radio’s music programs in the late afternoon.
“One of the first songs I remember hearing on these shows was Sandy Shaw’s “Puppet on a String”. In Johannesburg, one of my greatest mentors was the incredibly talented Dave Hewitt, who was my classical guitar teacher for two years, and Dennis East, who believed in me when very few others did, at a difficult time in my life,” he said.
While abroad Hay released his contemporary Christian album, “Refugee” in 2001 which saw him nominated for a MusOz award (now Australian Independent Music Award). He also was nominated in 2016 for a song in his newest album, “Remembering Savannah”.
“It was an honour to be nominated. I didn’t win, but I remember going down to buy a newspaper and scanning it to see if I’d been nominated – I couldn’t believe it when I saw my name there,” he said.
Currently Hay still performs on weekends in and around Sydney and said he’s still very fortunate to be a working musician in a city that really appreciates live music.
“I perform almost every weekend in and around Sydney as a solo, or with my duo, Soul Tattoo. However due to self-imposed deadlines for my new books, the only music releases this year will probably be Gospel recordings," he said.