One of the more journalistic, serious and most certainly interesting aspects of discogs.com is the oft-underrated task of researching and “profiling” the people, bands and indeed record labels/companies behind the music that appear in the database which, at the time of writing, boasts some 925,451 releases, 778,809 artists, and 78,238 labels.
And that’s a load of data.
While there are certainly some erroneous duplicates, intended dummy entries, gaping holes or outright rubbish in there, many of the artists do have some sort of description (profile), detailing who they are, where they’re from, what they do, and which artist of the same name they shouldn’t be mistaken with — much of which you won’t find elsewhere.
Depending on the artist or label involved (and to satisfy some own perverse craving for information and a need for knowledge), writing up a decent and accurate profile can take anything from a few seconds to several weeks (hinging on what facts can be extracted from other sites, interviews, magazines, blogs, the physical album/single, or even personal knowledge and own experience).
In some instances, direct contact with that person or a representative is necessary to feed that hungry beast.
Amusingly enough, the very first profile I wrote up was for none other than Traci Lords who — I was quite shocked to find — had a go at a musical career and released an album which (in another twist of irony) I’ve actually recently purchased and found to be worth keeping in my personal collection:
Real Name: Nora Louise Kuzma
Profile: Born 5/7/68 in Steubenville, Ohio as Nora Louise Kuzma, she adopted the stage name of Traci Elizabeth Lords in order to obtain a fake ID and mask her real age.
The rest, as we all know, is notorious history in the wonderful world of pornography…
Granted, that’s not much of a profile… nor did it take much time to come up with (and is in dire need of an update) — unlike some of the subsequent and more recent ones that seem to be getting increasingly entertaining and interesting.
Here’s a choice selection:
Profile: Consisting of two pairs of Greek teenage sisters and a Jewish guy, Peach were formed in Durban, South Africa in 1979 and defined the cheeky, trashy, sleazy, post-punk scene of the early 80’s.
Best remembered for their fired up live shows, they released only one album (“On Loan For Evolution” in 1981) and disbanded shortly afterwards.
Angie Peach (Evangelia Chazimarkou): Lead vocals
Pennie Power (Panagoula Borsis): Drums
Tini Tims (Fotini Borsis): Lead guitar
Carol Wood-Greene (Cocona Chazimarkou): Bass
Allan Rose (Allan Rosenberg): Rhythm Guitar and vocals
Profile: Wildly popular black South African singer (primarily kwaito and mbaqanga) from the Cape Town township of Langa whose career started at the age of 16 after she moved to Soweto (near Joburg).
Her first big hit came in 1983 with “Weekend Special”, in an outfit called “Brenda and the Big Dudes” (which was also released internationally as a 12″ maxi through ccp Record Company).
Legendary status was bestowed upon her later during the 80’s when she teamed up with Sello “Chicco” Twala. Their explosive musical interaction culminated in the monster album “Too Late For Mama” which became a multi-platinum seller in 1989 and rose to the top of most SA charts. Several self-produced albums followed, showcasing her diverse talents, skills and styles. Teaming up again with Chicco, the 1998 release “Memeza” became South Africa’s best selling release of the year, shifting 500,000 units and earning Brenda several SA Music Awards as well as new fans with the smash “Vul’indela”.
“The girl with the golden voice”, “South Africa’s queen of pop”, “undisputed queen of the vocals” are some of the names this most enduring star has been called during her 24-year career. Time Magazine itself referred to the bisexual singer as “The Madonna of the Townships”.
Born in 1964, Brenda died of a cocaine overdose on 9th May 2004.
Profile: South African singer, songwriter, guitarist, philosopher, writer, web-designer, and self-confessed kleptomaniac, Riku Lätti is at the forefront of a new breed of performers that have re-injected credibility into Afrikaans pop/folk music.
Not to be confused with a Finnish musician of the same name, Riku Lätti was born 11th June 1973 and completed an honours degree at Wits in 1996. He started off in an English-language band called Me And Mr Sane is also active in an Afrikaans band named 12Hz with Jean Marais, having won several local awards along the way.
Breaking into the international scene in 2005, Riku has also garnered a following in Belgium and the Netherlands.
Real Name: Kim Hong-Hee
Profile: Born January 10, 1958 in Daegu, South Korea as a direct descendant of King Kyungsoon and the Silla dynasty, Kimera is an opera singer with a four-octave range and has appeared on local TV from the age of twelve.
After having studied French Literature, she moved to Paris to complete her Masters Degree, graduating with a “Diplôme Supérieur d’Art Lyrique” in 1984.
In the same year, she married multimillionaire construction tycoon Raymond Nakachian (who appeared as “executive producer” on her recordings) and brought about her main claim to fame with her criticised and somewhat controversial “Lost Opera” medley in the vein of “Hooked on Classics”, self-described as “Popera”. Although it hardly dented the UK (let alone the American) charts, she was a huge hit in countries like France and Spain – even reaching the number-one spot in South Africa.
Following her child’s kidnapping (and eventual rescue) in Marbella, Spain in 1987, Kimera’s output has waned considerably but she did continue to work and perform into the 90’s before finally fading into obscurity.
Real Name: Ivan Kenneth Steyn
Profile: South African psy-trance producer with poor grammatical skills and a penchance for “deep sexy tribal underground stuff”, born 30th January 1978 and based on the Reef.
Profile: In the summer of 1972, Trident Studios’ in-house engineer Robin Geoffrey Cable instigated an experimental project in an effort to emulate the “wall-of-sound” style made famous by Phil Spector. Queen happened to be recording their debut album in the studios at the time, so he invited Freddie Mercury to lay down the lead vocals who, in turn, roped in Brian May and Roger Taylor to provide percussion, guitar and backing vocals – as paid session musicians.
In June 1973, shortly before Queen’s own debut album was released, EMI decided to cash in on the emerging glam rock trend and rushed out the resulting recordings as a 7″ single under the name of Larry Lurex – an obvious send-up of Gary Glitter.
The single failed to chart. The end.
Profile: Born in Kent, England in 1982, Rik Waller was a top 10 finalist in the UK’s “Pop Idol” competition from 2002. Despite his considerable girth, he was met with much approval but had to bow out of the running because of a throat infection.
His first single was a cover of that (in)famous Dolly Parton song, and he was last seen touring the circuit as Rik Waller’s Mighty Soul Band.
Real Name: Rodwell Marasha
Profile: Born on the 30th of September, 1958 in Chinhoye, Zimbabwe, Biggie Tembo was the charismatic lead singer and guitarist with Bhundu Boys.
Despite their meteoric rise to international success in the early eighties and because of irregular behaviour and too many external interests that caused dissatisfaction with the other members, he was axed from the band in 1990. He continued to perform and release some solo material in the UK – albeit only to a lukewarm reception.
Biggie eventually returned to Zimbabwe with his family in 1994 but committed suicide in Harare’s mental institution in 1995.
Real Name: Thulani Ngcobo
Profile: Hailing from Orlando East, Soweto, the dentally-challended and loud-mouthed man wearing the “Pitch Black Afro” wig found rapping a way to control his stutter.
Discovered by DJ Cleo during a stint on YFM radio, his debut album from 2004, “Styling Gel”, became South Africa’s biggest domestic hip-hop seller to date. Sophomore album “Split Enz” followed in 2006.
Profile: Born in 1951 and raised in Alexandra township (north of Johannesburg), young Condry learned the guitar from his older brother and went on to play in groups such as The Anchors, Flaming Souls, and Flaming Ghettoes.
After his son’s unexplained death in 1980, he accelerated his initiation as a “Sangoma” (spiritual healer) and (after slaughering a cow to appease the ancestors) joined the famous Harari in 1981. Following the break-up of Harari he assembled a backing band for exiled artists such as Letta Mbulu and Caiphus Semenya and toured with Harry Belafonte. His extensive travels even earned him a spot on the apartheid government’s national security watchlist.
The late 1980’s saw Mr. Ziqubu launch a successful solo career.
Sometimes, though, moderators have to be nasty and reject submitters’ poorly-written and horribly self-promotional descriptions of their own legendary status in their bedroom studios.
You’ve seen some of their reactions.
Image credit: Discogs user Deejsasqui