Suikerbossie – David de Lange
‘Suikerbos ek will you hê’. These words are so well known in South Africa, particularly amongst the Afrikaans community where it is almost part of the DNA. It has been covered by many and there is even an English version called ‘Sugarbush’ which Eve Boswell recorded, and this proved popular enough for Doris Day and Frakie Laine to also record it. Their version went to number 8 in the UK charts.
However it was the Afrikaans version by David de Lange that caught the public’s imagination in the 1930’s. Versions of this are still available on Youtube and such like and, given the age of the recordings, have that tinny sound that the technology of the time managed. The vocals by de Lange sound a bit like a boemelaar who’s walked into the bar and had a karaoke session with the local boere band. But it, along with other de Lange hits, sold by the bucket load to the extent that Eric Gallo, the man behind Gallo records, believes that the record label would not have survived had it not been for the sales of de Lange’s records.
In 2007 (I think) Ian Roberts of The Radio Kalahari Orkes starred in a play about de Lange’s life called ‘Die Nagloper’. The play was written by fellow band member Rian Malan and the band recorded a soundtrack to the this which included a version of ‘Suikerbossie’ and this version is also worth checking out.
‘Suikerbossie’ is as Afrikaans as koeksusters, ossewa and Sonja Herholdt. It is part of the fabric of a portion of the population of South Africa and it was made popular by David de Lange, a man whom the Afrikaaners of the day rejected because of his ‘wild’ lifestyle (apparently he drank and womanised) and his close friendship with a kleuling. Well we know who had the last laugh.
Where to find it:
Dis Boeremusiek – Various (2016)
David de Lange version:
Radio Kalahari Orkes version:
Eve Bowell version:
Doris Day & Frankie Laine Version: