Lucky Dube was born in Ermelo, formerly of the Eastern Transvaal, now of Mpumalanga, on 3 August 1964. His parents separated before his birth and he was raised by his mother who named him Lucky because she considered his birth fortunate after a number of failed pregnancies.
While at school he discovered the Rastafari movement. At the age of 18, Dube joined his cousin's band, The Love Brothers, playing Zulu pop music known as mbaqanga.
Reggae Comes Knocking
On the release of his fifth Mbaqanga album, Lucky's friend and future engineer Dave Segal encouraged him to drop the "Supersoul" element of the name. After that, all his albums were recorded as Lucky Dube. At this time he began to recognise that people were responding positively to some of the reggae songs he played during live concerts. Drawing inspiration from great Reggae icons of the time like Jimmy Cliff and Peter Tosh, he felt the socio-political messages associated with Jamaican reggae were relevant to a South African audience in an institutionally racist society.
Lucky Dube first made a move into Reggae with the mini album Rastas Never Die. The record only sold around 4000 units which in comparison to the 30,000 units his mbaqanga records would sell, could be seen as a disappointment. Keen to suppress anti-apartheid activism, the apartheid regime banned the album in 1985, because of its critical lyrics. This was not to deter him however and he continued to perform the reggae tracks live and wrote and produced a second reggae album, Think About The Children, which managed to achieve platinum status.
Lucky Dube continued to release commercially successful albums. In 1989 he won four OKTV Awards for Prisoner, won another for Captured Live the following year and yet another two for House of Exile the year after. His album Victim, which was released in 1993 sold over one million copies worldwide.
On 18 October 2007, The world lost a legend when Lucky was killed in the Johannesburg suburb of Rosettenville after a gang of carjackers shot him in an attempt to steal his vehicle.
As one of the first artists to bring African reggae to the mainstream, Lucky Dube bridged cultural gaps within the African diaspora. Dube gave Africa a voice and put its culture on the global stage by joining the global reggae community.