1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

Just another music list

Bonely Bonela – Gries Heimer

David Gresham

David Gresham (who is not Gries Heimer)

Ken J Larkin (who is Gries Heimer)

Ken J Larkin (who is Gries Heimer)

For those in the know (and those of us who looked it up on Google) a guiro is a scraping instrument which produces a sound by scraping a stick over a notched piece of wood to create a fast clicking sound. And why, you may well ask, do we need to know this. Well because it is used in the chorus of ‘Bonely Bonela’ and I’m sure when you listened to it back in 1972, you sat there going, ‘what on earth is making that strange sound on this record? Is it scratched?’

And you probably would have been even more convinced of a pressing defect had you heard the original Italian version by Filipino singer Antonio Morales Barretto who went under the name of Junior as that version is guiroless (not a word you hear everyday, admit it). The instrument had its origins in South America and it’s not surprising that Gries decided to add it to his version of the song as it has a a flavour of songs from that part of the world. It’s a gently flowing pop tune with a quick rumba beat.

But who was this mysterious man called Gries Heimer. Well take away the “i” in his first name, join the 2 names, change the “ei” in the second name to an “a” and drop the “er” at the end… okay I’ll tell you, it’s easier that way. David Gresham. Yes this was Gruesome Gresh who scored a number 19 hit on the Springbok Radio charts (yes, the ones he used to present – no wonder he changed his name on the single) and spent a week there on 6 October 1972. So keep you feet on the ground, reach for the stars and enjoy this pleasant pop tune. As Frankie Valli put it, ‘Gries is the word.’

CORRECTION: Subsequently to posting this, I have found out that Gries Heimer was in fact Ken J Larkin and not David Gresham. This has been confirmed by both Ken and David. David Gresham did in fact record a song in 1986 called ‘Holiday Rap’ going under the name Grusim G.

Where to find it:
Singles bins if you’re lucky


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2 thoughts on “Bonely Bonela – Gries Heimer

  1. Biil Morris on said:

    Awesome to hear this song after decades, and to learn that it was none other than DG doing it

  2. Please see the correction above. Gries Heimer was in fact Ken J Larkin and not David Gresham.

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