South African rock legend Rob Graham, 64 — better known as Crocodile Harris — died at his Cape Town home on Tuesday (July 7, 2015) just months before he was due to play his 1980s hit song ‘Give me the good news’ at the opening of the Mighty Men Conference Western Cape(MMC WC) on September 25.
He went to his bedroom complaining that he was not feeling well. Then his wife, Nora, heard a thud and when she got to him he was dead, says close friend Piperjames McGowan, who heads up the MMC WC committee.
“This [the opening song] will still go ahead and Nora will be our guest of honour for that opening song in front of all the men. Croc gave his life to Jesus and was so excited to actually sing for God and the men. Nora said to me this morning that he was even preparing what to wear for the gathering and inaugural song only last week,” says Piperjames.
Crocodile Harris’s ‘Good news’ ballad was a number one hit in South Africa in the early 80s and he was also named as best vocalist. The song also became the number one hit in France for 10 weeks and ‘Croc’ had the opportunity of sharing a stage with musical legends such as Al Jarreau and Bonnie Tyler. The song took off in Europe and he won a prize at the Cannes Music festival. Other songs he wrote during this period include “Star Wedding” and “The World is an Explosion”, a track that was initially banned in South Africa.
‘Give me the good news’ with its anti war and violence lyrics is as as poignant today as it ever was and was even played at a church service in London on Tuesday to mark the 10th anniversary of the 7/7 terrorist suicide bomb attack on the city’s transport system, says Piperjames.
View the song on Youtube:
“I used to call him Croc the Rock,” he says, explaining that the nickname was two-fold as he was an old rocker who had turned fully to Jesus the rock on who he built his life.
“Every time he called me it sounded as if he was a whirlwind of excitement. ‘Hi Piper!’ he would say, then reel into whatever it was he needed to say and then ‘let me know’ and then bang he was gone; infectious is the word. He loved his wife Nora so much. She is an accomplished pianist in her own right and wrote much music for him.
“I laid down two pipe tunes on two of his latest songs. ‘Clachan Bridge’, the only bridge in the world to span the Atlantic — near Oban in Scotland. This is in Scotland where he would woo Nora. The other song called ‘Lassie meet me at the station’ is another memory of Croc’s meeting Nora at the station. He loved to sing and even when not there, him using a backing track he always honoured the musicians that were on his tracks. He had the most amazing ‘Rockers type’ of singing voice yet was a gentle spoken man,” says Piperjames.