Lucky Dube was the son of a single mother who thought she could not have children. Her first child therefore was given the name “Lucky”. Dube (pronounced “Dobe”) is a town area in Johannesburg.
Lucky Dube had a tough upbringing and lived in turn, with his mother, grandmother, and an uncle. He began to sing in bars in his home town and in church. He and his comrades began drumming around and started a band, but they couldn’t afford to buy instruments. They tried to persuade moneyed people to sponsor them but, when they were unsuccessful, Lucky Dube wrote a play that the guys performed. This brought in just enough to purchase a guitar, and they started the Skyway band. They began by playing mbaqanga. They were together for 2 years before Lucky Dube joined the Love Brothers, a mbaqanga band led by Richard Siluma, who later became Lucky’s manager.
After a few years as a mbaqanga singer Lucky decided, in the early 1980s, to switch to reggae. The influence came from artists like Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. He had his baptism of fire as a reggae artist when he played at the Sunsplash Festival in Jamaica, before the world’s most critical reggae audiences, and was a success.
Lucky Dube made a type of melodious, African reggae that slowly but surely has turned him into a superstar. He sang powerfully in English about social problems, the blacks’ struggle, and God’s greatness. With the song, “Together As One”, he became the first black artist in South Africa to be played on a white radio station. He had had no formal musical education, but nevertheless played several instruments and arranges his own songs. His first two albums, “Slave” (about alcoholism) and “Prisoner”, both sold over 500,000 copies and are the best selling disks ever in South Africa. Lucky Dube was one of Africa’s most beloved and sought after artists and toured the world over. He was shot and killed outside his home in Johannesburg October 18th 2007. His death is a tragic loss to the music life in all Africa.