Icon. James Phillips died aged just 36. The extraordinary South African musician, composer, rocker, and accidental pioneer of Afrikaans alternative music passed away Monday 31 July 1995 as a result of complications arising from a head injury suffered in a car accident a few weeks prior. Friday 31 July marks 25 years since his passing.

James grew up in the East Rand town of Springs, where he fronted the seminal punk/new-wave act Corporal Punishment before heading to study in Grahamstown in the early ’80s. A stint in Cape Town’s Illegal Gathering and his solo debut as alternative Afrikaner rocker/persona Bernoldus Niemand and subsequent cult “hit” ‘Hou my vas korporaal’ helped further establish him as a bright light worth watching, but it was with The Cherry Faced Lurchers, the band Phillips fronted from the mid-80s where his light really shone. James and his Lurchers were a staple of the South African rock scene, providing a voice and conscience for many during South Africa’s troubled times.

The ‘Concert for James Phillips’ was recorded by Shifty Records Lloyd Ross over two nights in early September 1995, initially planned as a fundraiser to assist with James’ medical bills it turned into a tribute following his sudden demise. Over 30 acts came together to celebrate his life and his music. Johnny Clegg, Bright Blue, Johannes Kerkorrel en die Gereformeerde Blues Band, Vusi Mahlasela, the Springbok Nude Girls, Valiant Swart, Squeal and Matthew van der Want are just a few of the amazing artists captured on this tribute recording that celebrates a life well-lived.

Shifty founder Lloyd Ross muses “James’ career in music neatly brackets my own major immersion in music production through the guise of Shifty Records during an incredibly turbulent period on South Africa’s history. In many ways, James’ talent was a catalyst to that involvement. He, therefore, bears a great responsibility for the recordings of many fine artists whose work would probably have otherwise been lost to time. Many of these artists came out to honour James by performing, so these recordings of the Concert for James provide a unique window into the premiere league of South African “alternative” music of the time, in all its diversity.”

The album is released across all digital platforms Friday 31 July 2020 to mark the 25th anniversary of James’ passing.

Engineered & Recorded by Lloyd Ross.

Cover illustration by Anja Venter (www.nannaventer.co.za)



As many of you may have recently seen on Facebook, full time, professional musician Simba Morri (and former Shifty Records and 3rd Ear Music recording artist) has some serious health issues, compounded by financial problems as a result of being a full time, professional musician! Plus the COVID-19 lockdown has not helped Simba’s situation. Initial posts about the issue helped get some funds into the account of Guillaume Rossouw AKA Gil Gap (of punk legends Safari Suits) a close friend of Simba’s who is assisting on getting him the relevant medical tests so that we can understand all that will be required going forward to properly care for Simba Morri.


Updates on Simba’s condition will happen here, as well as on the Crowdfunding website (https://gogetfunding.com/simbamorri) and also our Shifty Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/shiftysince84)

We ask that you please consider contributing to this fund, any amount is acceptable as it will all help, if you are unable to contribute financially (we realise it is tough for everyone out there) then please share it with people you think can, we’re also open to any other ideas and will be pursuing other fundraising avenues. Thank You!


Any funds not used for Simba’s situation will go towards a new legally formulated and administered fund set up to assist impoverished Shifters who may require emergency medical assistance in the future.



THURSDAY 30 JULY | 19:00

Join us for this fantastic event. Matthew van der Want and Chris Letcher reunite for a special one-off show and live album recording featuring Andrew Joseph on bass, Nicholas Bjorkman on drums, and Victoria Hume on vocals & keyboards.

Will feature a fan Q&A session after the set. Host/Interviewer to be announced. Tickets Limited.

In 1998 and 2002, singer-songwriter Matthew van der Want and Chris Letcher (ex Urban Creep, singer-songwriter, and composer) collaborated as an acoustic duo to release two albums, and one EP. 1998’s full length ‘Low Riding’ was nominated for two South African Music Awards namely ‘Best Rock’ and ‘Best Adult Contemporary’ album. 2002’s follow up ‘Bignity’ garnered a ‘Best Rock’ album nomination at that year’s South Africa Music Awards. Both albums were recorded for Shifty Records by Lloyd Ross. The duo received vast critical acclaim and have been repeatedly hailed as two of South Africa’s top singer-songwriters, ‘Bignity’ was awarded the additional accolade of ‘top ten’ in the Mail & Guardian’s albums of the decade (2000–2010).