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.