The Kinsey Report

The Dukes Combo

It seems as if The Dukes combo have been playing forever. Led by Dee Sharma the group has spanned six decades The story of the Dukes Combo began in 1956, when Sharma met and befriended Harry Naidoo at a talent contest, at the Himalaya Hotel in Durban. They soon discovered a shared interest in music —with Sharma playing the penny whistle and Naidoo playing the guitar – and formed the D&H Duet. Not long afterwards, they were joined by Sharma’s old school friend Midget Vahed, who sang rock ‘n roll songs. He asked Sharma and Naidoo to accompany him, and they agreed. The trio then needed a drummer, which is when Moon Gartiah joined the band, with Vassie Naidoo, an accordion player and guitarist being added to the line-up soon afterwards. Asked how the name came about, Sharma said: “We wanted a name that was different ... a short, simple name that would be easy to remember. While walking in the city one day, I saw a huge sign on a building for ‘Iron Duke Paints’. I immediately decided we should call ourselves ‘The Dukes Combo’. Little did I know that 54 years later, the name would still stick.” David Royeppen, a talented bassist, later joined the band and Sharma began playing the tenor saxophone. By this time, the Dukes Combo had established its own distinctive style and was in huge demand. They played at the Ocean Terminal, Imperial Hotel, Pelican Hotel, Isipingo Island Hotel, Starlite Hotel, Greencat Restaurant, Himalaya Hotel, Asoka Hotel, Butterworth Hotel, Athlone Hotel and Belgica Hotel. But Sharma admitted that apartheid laws were a problem. The band could not play at venues that had liquor licences for whites only. In 1978, the band members quit their day jobs and turned professional. They soon had contracts at the Las Vegas discotheque in Johannesburg and the Why Not Disco in Swaziland. Over the years, trumpeter Brian Thusi, guitarists Eugene Mkhize and Sagie Naidoo, and trombonist Philip Thusi, all added new sounds to the Dukes Combo, as did the likes of Martin Sigamoney, Neil Gonsalvez, George Mari, Eve Boswell, Ben Msinga, Zane Adams and many more. (Written by Yogan Naidoo)

To see the program for the Duke’s Combo’s 25th Anniversary

To view the Dukes Combo Facebook Page

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The Cheyennes
The Duke’s Combo
Updated 05 April 2024