Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Woodstock, the movie, wasn't banned in South Africa

Benjy Mudie

In my previous posting, I wrote about a book which quotes the Woodstock movie’s director, Michael Wadleigh, as saying that the film was either banned outright, or had all black musicians removed from it before its release in apartheid South Africa in the early 1970s.

Well, I have subsequently e-mailed rock music guru Benjy Mudie, asking him to read what I wrote, and to comment on Wadleigh’s claims. And, as I expected, it seems Wadleigh’s recollection of what transpired was a little off the mark.

That is what Benjy, in his own right a South African global rock legend, had to say:

“Michael Wadleigh is talking absolute rubbish, not only was the film shown throughout South Africa but all the so-called ‘black’ artists were featured in the film, ie Richie Havens, Sly Stone, etc.

“I saw the movie 8 times at the Grand bioscope in Benoni and bought the album and T-shirt. I even heard excerpts from the album (including the aforementioned artists) played on LM and Swazi Radio.

“Looking at the DVD recently the only scenes that were cut from the original film in SA were the nude and the more overt drug-taking scenes.

“I really can’t comment on his claim that he filmed anti-apartheid films in SA. What I will say is this: If I had a buck for every ‘international’ who claims to have in some way been involved in the ‘struggle’ I would be a very rich man indeed.

“You see it’s a bit like Woodstock itself … if everyone who claims to have been at the festival were accurate then almost the whole US baby boomer generation was there, plus/minus 20 million! If he did indeed make 2 films then why have they never seen the light of day? I think maybe the brown acid affected his sense of memory.”

Who is Benjy Mudie?

Well on his Rock of Ages website, http://www.rock.co.za/rockofages/, he describes himself as a “self-confessed ‘rockaholic’ with little chance of recovery ... a music obsessive whose entire life has been spent in search of the lost chord ...

“From discovering Jimi’s ‘Are you experienced’ at 13, he has constantly devoured music through LPs, singles, tapes, CDs, DVDs, books, magazines, film, concerts, radio, TV and the internet.

“His entire working life has also been music-related: from running a record store and later joining WEA Records in the mid ’70s through to his 21-year A&R/Marketing stint at Tusk Music where he signed some of the biggest names in South African rock and pop. Since 1999 he has been nurturing new talent at his indie label Fresh Music and reissuing classic albums as part of its ongoing Retro series ... To say that ‘music is his first love’ (to paraphrase John Miles's classic song) is somewhat understated.”

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