Little Lemmy

This tune – Little Lemmy – is played by Little Lemmy (‘Special’ Mabaso) with Big Joe on alto sax (I might be making that second bit up – but he is credited as playing, and it sounds like Lemmy on the whistle). It can be found on the old, Decca LK 4292 “Something New from Africa”, as well as the currently available “The Pennywhistle – The Magical Instrument of Africa” on Gallo.

I have transcribed the theme (first four bars, repeated four times) which occurs at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of the piece, as well as the first whistle solo. There is another whistle solo and a couple of sax solos in the complete piece which, as usual, lasts almost exactly two minutes and thirty seconds (so that two tunes fit on one side of a 45rpm single – well, that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it!). You should be aiming for a speed of 150bpm (where a beat is a dotted crotchet (that’s a dotted Quarter Note to our USA pals)) which is pretty fast, especially on the run in bars 15-16.

I have no idea why I accredited the piece to Mokonotela – I must have read it off another piece by accident. The tune is actually accredited to ‘Hill’ – I wonder who that is?

If you enjoy playing this (or if you don’t) – please let me know by leaving a comment.

Little Lemmy


  1. Lovely transcription of this little song, which I found on a compilation CD labeled “Jive & Kwela”, sold at the Hector Pietersen Museum. I’d love to see you have a go at the second whistle solo!

  2. This is nice music, can you please give me more background of it, where it started ?

  3. The film ‘Shell Spirit’ – on youtube – is scored by Lemmy Mabaso.

    Can anyone tell me if the melody has an original title?

    One source says it was released on a flexidisc –
    Can anyone help me on that?

    Al G.

    1. Hi Al

      I suspect we’ve both read the same source – Adam Keelan’s post on Chiff & Fipple.

      It’s not a track I’ve heard before and perhaps the flexidisc holds the answer. Adam, or Dave Woodhead from Positively Testcard might know more, particularly since they were in touch with Geoffrey Jones (director) before he died.

      You might like to compare this track with Lemmy’s Jump, which – although slower – shares many characteristics. That said, the tea-chest bass/babatoni on ‘Shell Spirit’ is awesome! I’ve not heard such technically proficient playing on a kwela recording before.

      Good luck

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *