Kippies

Since 1986, Kippies has been one of Johannesburg’s most famous jazz venues. Musicians from all over the country have aspired to play here:

"This place is the hub of jazz music in Johannesburg... When you walk onto the stage at Kippies for your first set as an aspiring musician, you know you have made it" Sipho 'Hotstix' Mabuse, musician

Kippie Moeketsi, the legendary saxophone player, gave the place its name and was an inspiration for all who took to the stage. Moeketsi, born in 1925, learned to play the clarinet at the age of 20 and soon moved onto the saxophone. He was associated with numerous bands including Band in Blue, the Shantytown Sextet, the Harlem Swingsters, the Jazz Epistles and the Jazz Dazzlers. He played with South Africa's leading musicians, including Abdullah Ibrahim, Jonas Gwangwa, Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela. In 1961, he toured London as part of the cast of King Kong. While many of his fellow performers chose to remain in exile, Moeketsi returned to South Africa.

Supporters of the Market Theatre Foundation proposed building a music club where local musicians could play and hold workshops as part of the scheme of developing Newtown into a cultural precinct in the early 1980s.

The building was constructed in the early 1980s as a pastiche of the original Edwardian public toilet block, dating from 1913, which is two hundred metres north of the club today. Jazz musician Abdullah Ibrahim gave the building its name:

"Kippie gave us everything we know. We have just built on what he has taught us." Abdullah Ibrahim, musician, 1983

The club was closed in 2005 after severe structural problems were discovered. It was declared an interim heritage site to protect it from demolition. In 2009, work on the restoration of the building commenced and a statue of Kippie Moeketsi was unveiled.

Did You Know?

Did you know that in 1911 Mary Fitzgerald led the wives and daughters of the striking tram workers to the tram sheds where they sat on the tracks to stop the trains from leaving?