Chris Prior – The Rock Professor

I was born in Durban, grew up in Joburg at various boarding schools. I was in my late teens when the rock revolution took place, when bands like the Rolling Stones, the Doors, Led Zeppelin, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Grateful Dead and a thousand others started making serious waves. The Beatles had just released “Sgt. Pepper’s”. It was a whole new world, and it captivated myself and all my friends. I started collecting as much as my limited funds allowed (a cub reporter in the SABC newsroom earned a massive R80-00 a month!), and I still have some of the vinyl I bought in those days.

The travel bug bit me round about then – I was fortunate enough to miss the ballot, which was the way they conscripted kids for the army in those days, so I was free to go. I boarded a ship in Durban and over the next seven years I starved in Australia, body-surfed in Bali, meditated in India, worked deckhand on a charter yacht in the Mediterranean, and wasted time in Canada. When I was actually earning money, it was generally as a freelance journalist. I remember not eating very much during those days, things being somewhat tight.

I returned to South Africa and rejoined SABC radio, working for the English Service as a producer/reporter. I had my first music show, called “Where I’m At”, round about 1977, on the English Service (now SAFM). I was the first DJ to play ZZ Top on local radio. I remember getting a note from the station’s Programme Manager the following day, telling me that he strongly disapproved, and that I really shouldn’t play that kind of music on his station. Needless to say, I carried on playing “that kind of music”, and joined the fledgling rock station, Capitol 604, in 1978.