Lucky's parents separated before he was born.
Due to apartheid and the overall racism in South
Africa at the time, his mother was barely able to
take care of the children. He had a tough upbringing
and lived in turn, with his mother, grandmother and
school he would find a safe place and spent much
time learning. This made him quite popular with the
teachers at that time.
Soon he discovered the school's musical
instruments and began to find his musical interests.
He went to the school choir to blow off some weight,
as the situation in his home was rather dire. The
teacher immediately realized he was a gifted child.
He began to sing in bars in his home town and in
the church choir. Lucky paired up with a few of his
friends in the choir and together they founded the
band Skyway. They played with instruments they
'borrowed' from the school and began playing
traditional Zulu music known as
mbaqanga. They were
together for 2 years, but soon their teacher would
lock the instruments away and the band fell apart.
When Lucky was 18 he joined the Love Brothers, a
mbaqanga band led
by Richard Siluma, who later became his manager.
Shortly after the band was signed to Tear Records,
which is now known as Gallo Record Company. The band
changed their name to "Lucky Dube and the Supersoul"
and released their first record. The second album
came soon afterwards, this time Lucky wrote the
lyrics. With their third album they already had a
considerable fan base and he could afford to
purchase some instruments as well as a recording
It was around the time of his fifth
mbaqanga album that
Lucky met sound engineer Dave Segal and the band
name changed to simply Lucky Dube.
Lucky began listening to reggae music
from Jamaica - artists such as Bob Marley
and Peter Tosh. The lyrics particularly
intrigued him as they were social messages
aimed at the struggle of the black man,
whilst still maintaining a commercial sound.
Lucky felt it was the perfect medium for the
South African political situation.
His first reggae album, Rastas Never
Die, was banned in South Africa on account
of its militancy, and Dube diversified into
rap for Help My Krap.
In 1986 his new band, the Slaves,
recorded 'Think About The Children', and
their second album, 'Slave', sold 300,000
copies. In 1989 he toured France and the USA
with the group and appeared in the movie
Voice In The Dark. Two albums in that year,
'Together As One' and 'Prisoner', sold
heavily, the latter going double platinum in
South Africa in only five days.
In 1991 Dube became the first South
African artist to play the Reggae Sunsplash
festival in Jamaica, and again he issued two
albums in one year, 'Captured Live' and
'House Of Exile'.
Tours of Japan and Australia were also a
success, and Dube additionally played WOMAD
with Peter Gabriel. Victims again broke his
own record for worldwide sales, shifting in
excess of a million copies on various
Lucky Dube makes a type of melodious,
African reggae that slowly but surely has
turned him into a superstar. He sings
powerfully in English about social problems.
With the song, "Together As One", he became
the first black artist in South Africa to be
played on a white radio station.
He has had no formal musical education,
but nevertheless plays several instruments
and arranges his own songs. Through this
Lucky Dube has established himself as a
popular reggae artist, both within South
Africa and internationally.