Thursday 18 May 2023


A dark cloud is hanging over the arts fraternity following the death of renowned legendary Jazz musician and producer, Kelly Rusike who died on Wednesday evening.

He was 59 and is survived by two children Cole and Courtney.

Rusike reportedly passed on at home, Craneborne, Harare after suffering from diabetes for a long time.

His son, Cole confirmed the news.

“At the moment we are busy running with the funeral arrangements as it came as a shock and surprise at the same time. He died at home (Craneborne, Harare). We will furnish you with further details,” he said.

Mourners are gathered at number 4 Umguza Road, Craneborne Harare with funeral arrangement announced in due course.

Rusike released an album and many singles under The Rusike Brothers, alongside his brothers who were a household name on Zimbabwean television in the 90s.

He performed for royalty in Europe and shared the stage with many music greats such as the late Dr Oliver Mutukudzi, Jimi Dludlu and Rozalla Miller.

He formed his jazz outfit Jazz Invitation and owned the renowned Shed Studios which produced music, adverts and jingles.

Meanwhile the arts fraternity is mourning the death of jazz guitarist legend:

Jazz artistic director Filbert Marova said was devastated upon receiving the news and defined Kelly as a professional jazz artist.

“Kelly’s death is shocking, and it has robbed the jazz music sector. His contribution to the music sector in Zimbabwe is immeasurable. He was a bassist par excellence, and his baseline remains relevant and upbeat just as he remained youthful in appearance,” he said.

“I worked with him in The Rusike Brothers”, between 1993 and 1998. We found Jazz Invitation together in 1998 and solidified our friendship. I later left the Jazz Invitation in 2006 but we remain friends and continued to collaborate in various projects.”

Seasoned arts journalist Garikai Mazara described Kelly as a force to reckon.

“Drawing a lot of inspiration from the Jackson family, the Rusike Brothers were a recognizable force in the 80s and 90s musical space.

Sadly, one of the remaining stalwarts of that group, Kelly Rusike, has gone to be with the Lord,” he said.

“May his soul rest in eternal peace.

“Though without much recorded and celebrated musical productions, the Rusike Brothers will strike a chord with many for their Ngwerewere sadza advert in which they showed their immense dancing skills. And fashion sense.”

He said Kelly was one of the grandchildren of the famous Mathew Rusike, they grew up in Zambia during Zimbabwe’s torturous pre-independence era, only returning to the country after independence.

As alluded earlier, despite sharing almost four decades on the musical stage, they were not great recorders, with their first hit being Saturday Night. Their second album was to carry Cecelia, a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s.

After going their separate ways, same way the Jackson Family split in the 80s, Kelly was to front Jazz Invitation, whose line-up evolved over the years but at one time or the other included the likes of Prudence Katomeni, Patience Musa, Sam Mataure, Louis Mhlanga, Victor Duarte and Filbert Marova.”

Mazara added that those who loved their jazz and booze together and used to frequent Jazz 105 in Harare will testify that Jazz Invitation were like a permanent fixture on the club’s weekend routines.

“And any jazz festival in the country, especially those organised by Sam Mataure, would not be complete without Kelly Rusike and his band.”

Jules Julie Sandi said was shocked to hear the sad news.

“Kelly Rusike, I woke up this morning (Thursday) to the news of your passing. I’m still trying to digest this all. You were not only a good friend, but you were the first to convince me to do my first TV advert through your production company for Karinga,” she said.

“This is a really sad time for me. I knew what you were fighting (diabetes) but I also relaxed because I knew you were managing it.”

“My deepest condolences to your children Courtney and Cole, grandson, your life partner, Yolanda and the Rusike Brothers and your fans.

Go well, may your dear soul rest in eternal peace.”

Another Kelly’s friend Kabwita Kasochi posted on social media stating that he had learnt a lot from Kelly.

“Five years ago, we had so much fun doing this impromptu jam together. Just a few weeks ago we were supposed to do even something crazier. Alas, it wasn’t to be. How do I even come to terms with this very shocking reality? My bro, Kelly Rusike, this one really hurts to the core. I was really hoping this was some kind of a sick joke! You’ll always be a Bass hero and yor music shall live on.

Rest well Champ! Forever in our hearts,” he said.

Musician Micheal Lanas said he had lost a brother. “My life will never be the same. I have lost a brother,” he said.

Director at Ngoma Nehosho, founder and artistic director of the Jacaranda Music Festival and Jabulani Jazz Festival, Walter Wanyanya said the nation has lost a legend as he grew up admiring Kelly.

“Growing up as a young bass player, I looked up to this man and I was inspired by him in many ways than him just being an amazing bass player, he is truly one of the real kings of the low end from Zimbabwe, you can’t mention top bass players in Zimbabwe without mentioning Mukoma Kelly,” he explained.

“I used to watch him at Book Cafe playing with Jazz Invitation and he was our very own Marcus Miller in the flesh. Thank you for the music Mukoma and thank you for always being a great example in your humbleness and your willingness to teach others this craft, I for one am grateful. May you rest in peace, and we will forever remember your good work and for sure.” Herald


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