James Phillips’ band The Cherry Faced Lurchers made their name playing at Jameson’s pub, which was situated in Commissioner Street in the centre of Johannesburg.

Jameson’s was an anomaly because it had been issued a liquor licence by Paul Kruger who had been the President of the Transvaal in the late 1800s. As a result, Jameson’s drew a clientele that consisted of both black and white people and thus, in the midst of apartheid, with a state of emergency in place and the townships effectively ungovernable, there existed a pub where South Africans of all colours could drink and listen to music together.

According to the journalist Shaun de Waal, “It was like the bastard child of Sophiatown. It was the new South Africa in twisted embryo”.

The Lurchers were instrumental in cementing the popularity of Jameson’s. They assembled a collection of classic songs that were recorded by Lloyd Ross of Shifty Records in July 1985. Whilst the music was very accessible and catchy, the lyrics passed comment not only on the political, but also the social issues that characterised South Africa in the mid 1980s.

The band’s signature song was “Do the Lurch” which on one level was a song in which the protagonist has an alcoholic binge, however the song also illustrated the band’s annoyance at how white youth remained largely unmoved by the effects that apartheid was having on South African society.

Jameson's today-the narrow staircase leading down to the pub.  September 2014.

The narrow staircase leading down to Jameson’s. September 2014.

The interior of Jameson's. If these walls could talk, they would have a helluva tale to tell.  September 2014.

The interior of Jameson’s. If these walls could talk, they would have a helluva tale to tell. September 2014.

  3 comments for “Jameson’s

  1. Roy Visser
    September 23, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    I think that I am the owner of James Phillips’ Fender Telecaster Thinline.
    I purchased it at Thet Other Music Shop in central Jo’burg back in the early ’80’s.
    I remember the salesman telling me that their was some kind of tragedy about the previous owner.
    After seeing photos & video footage of Jamed performing at Jamesons, I had a sense that it’s his guitar that I now own.

    It’s a 1974 – 1976 manufacture according to the serial number.

    Roy Visser

  2. Dave
    August 2, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    Those pics are not Jameson’s!!!!…some modern shit….it was THE BEST!!!! Played many times there!!

    • dpelser
      August 5, 2017 at 2:57 am

      The pics are actually Jameson’s-what it looks like now. I took them in 2014 during a visit to downtown Johannesburg.

Comments are closed.