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Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse: Q&A with one of SA’s greatest musos

We sat down with Hotstix and chatted to him about music, life, and how it feels to be turning 69.


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Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse — fondly known, as “Hotstix” — has boundless energy and shows no signs of slowing down as he heads towards his 69th birthday in November.

Sipho was honoured in 2018 by President Cyril Ramaphosa and received a national order. The citation read, Order of Ikhamanga in Silver, “for his contribution to the field of music and social cohesion. His spellbinding music has consistently captured the imagination of the nation.”

Rapid-fire Q&A with Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse

The South African sat down with Hotstix and chatted about just what it is that makes him tick.

When are you your happiest?

When children call me ‘Daddy’, especially in Soweto.

What does music mean to you?

A life of fulfilment.

What is your funniest moment on stage?

When I forget the lyrics to a song.

Who are your heroes?

All honest-living people.

Who do you admire most, and why?

Sol Kerzner — he was a brilliant, creative mind (Lost City — one of the wonders of the world, created by a human being).

What is your most treasured possession?

An old South African rand (the one-rand note) signed by the late president Nelson Mandela on his release from prison.

Late president Nelson Mandela and Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse. Image: Supplied

It’s your round, what are you drinking?

Martini and lemonade.

Which song do you wish you had written?

Yesterday’ by The Beatles

What is your dream gig?

Any desert festival.

What makes you stand out?

I don’t think I do.

What are your nicknames?

Hotstix and Sax.

If you were not a musician, what would you do?

I’d be a hospital porter.

Pick five words to describe yourself.

Insecure, purposeful, magnanimous, amorous, loving and sensitive. That’s six.

What five discs would you take to a desert island?

These are songs that have influenced my thinking and what I do as an artist.

  • The Beatles – Norwegian Wood was the first song I learnt to play in The Beaters, my first band;
  • Bob Marley – Jonny Was;
  • Babsi Mhlangani – Sala Emma;
  • Johnny Clegg – Scatterlings of Africa; and
  • West Nkosi – Two Mabone (that song influenced me to make Jive Soweto and Shikisha)

What do you think is the greatest movie ever made?

Ten Commandments.

What song(s) changed your life?

Norwegian Wood’ and ‘Burnout’. ‘

Burnout’ has given me a life one can only dream of. The song is bigger than me. South Africa loves that song. It is humbling.

Watch: Hotstix performs Burnout

Who do you love?

My children.

What is your favourite word?


What is your favourite fashion statement?


What’s at the top of your bucket list?

I would love to go to Cuba and play a show.

What is your greatest achievement?

Passing matric at 60.

What do you complain about most often?

Unreliable partnerships and apathy and corruption in national government. The feeding frenzy and looting of state resources angers me.

What is your greatest fear?


Happiness is?

Sharing and caring with others.

How do you feel on stage?

I get nervous and intense.

What is the best life lesson you have been taught?

Listen, be respectful and humble.

Where would you like to be right now?

Somewhere over the rainbow.

Watch: 46664 Concert – New York

Concert in the Park – 1985