Enquiries – Facebook – David Gwe
Enquiries – Facebook – David Gwe
Listening to music is every Zimbabweans favourite pastime but the weekends especially a Saturday night needed to be extra special and one man, in particular, made this possible and entertaining at the same time, step forward Peter Johns lovingly known as “The radio driver” because of his popular show on Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation Radio 3.
As the minutes’ tick to hours and your mind turns to the “outfit” that you will be wearing tonight you are interrupted by the introductory music from ZBCs Sounds On Saturday (SOS) and the unmistakable voice of Peter Johns ready to fill the next hour with all the latest and upcoming music videos of the songs that you had listened to on the radio during the week and now you were now intrigued to watch. The hour would race by with all the good music videos played, which has now only heightened the excitement for the “gig.” Having finally gotten the chance to change into your “outfit” you and your friends pile into the car and make your way across Harare to the event, it may only be a 20 -30-minute drive, but you need “tunes” to cruise to so you tune into Radio 3 and are greeted by none other than Peter Johns playing the weekly chart countdown, how convenient as well as confusing because he is on the radio. Yet, you are currently on your way to his event, whether it is an “Open Air gig” at Bucks courts or an event at CalliesSports Club. You knew you had to be there because quite simply everyone will be there, such was the pull of this iconic DJ.
A typical Peter Johns night out was expertly put by one of his peers, and close friend Kelvin ‘Soul Supreme’ Sifelani in his tribute. This was posted up on ZimLive.com. He went on to write that some of the protagonists in this display of indiscipline on a night out were Vincent Musewe, Robson, and Pius Matambanadzo. Also in attendance were a young Carlos Max, Keith Sharpe, Shaun Charters, Ahmed Rahman, and others deemed to have come from the hood (Arcadia). All round, folks that were never ever to weary to party. Peter was claimed by all ethnic groupings: white, black, and coloureds (mixed race). In the end, however, one particular group made sure that he was predominantly theirs and guarded him jealously and understandingly so because if he wasn’t the best, he was definitely second to none.
I myself had left Zimbabwe in 1990 when PJ was still at the top of his trade and I never for one minute expected to grace the same turntables as him, but fortunately, in 2012 myself and Mercy Hinze put together a Reunion event in Milton Keynes, United Kingdom in which PJ was the headline DJ, the crowds came in their hundreds, and he didn’t disappoint even though already then he was showing signs of poor health. Unfortunately, his health continued to deteriorate over the coming years, and sadly his body succumbed to it.
The social media website Facebook was lit up with wave after wave of newsfeeds paying tribute and homage to this legendary DJ with everyone sharing their countless memories, experiences, and the music that a Peter Johns radio show, a hosted event or gig had given them. I spoke at length to his protégé Terry James and he stated that during PJs final hours he had asked that he be remembered by the Zimbabwean community as a whole in one final farewell event, unfortunately, due to the current global coronavirus pandemic, this is not possible however I have personally spoken to fifteen DJs from across the community and beyond who have all offered their services to a night that will commemorate this legend of the Zimbabwe DJs fraternity, so when this pandemic has come to pass watch this space.
Peter Johns was unique in the sense that he never allowed himself to be pigeonholed to serve one community he was a DJ for all of the Zimbabweans and we loved him for it, his passing was felt globally by the large Zimbabwean community now residing in diaspora and showed just how far his reach was.
With heavy hearts, we say goodbye to a Zimbabwean icon Rest in Eternal Peace Peter Johns “The radio driver” thank you for the memories.