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Wednesday, December 23, 2020


(Tom Hare)

Well-known and popular saxophonist Tom Hare passed away in Durban last week. Born in 1942, he was involved in the founding of the Australian jazz band, Galapagos Duck. Formed in 1969, they have an extensive history of international touring. Before it moved to The Rocks Push jazz club in Sydney, the band in 1969 was Marty Mooney and Tom Hare (reeds), Chris Qua (bass and trumpet), and Des Windsor (piano and organ).

Having performed around the world, Hare moved to Durban. He was much-loved by jazz music audiences as he appeared regularly in cabaret, music shows, concerts and presentations at the Centre for Jazz at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

“Tom had a stroke in the early hours of Sunday, December 13. He was admitted to St. Augustine’s. His heart was working far too hard and he passed away at 3am on the 17th December, says his widow, Janet Hare. “My dear Tom was loved by people all over the world and the tributes have been pouring in. He will be sorely missed.”


Fellow musician, Daniel Sheldon, manager and agent of the jazz group of Beat-Route paid this tribute:

“I had the most sacred privilege of knowing Tom Hare and calling him my friend. He was crass, kind and compassionate. He lived wholly and understood the importance of the small things. He loved the absurd but never suffered fools or their folly. He had a short temper but an immeasurable patience. He was a master student and a master teacher. In music he was complete and unsurpassed. Tom Hare was a renaissance man who lived life wholly with a crooked conspiratory smile, he was a giant of a human being and left a space that will never be filled. Never”Among the many other tributes on Facebook is one from drummer Gerald Kerdachi who remembers Hare fondly:

“Deep sadness and sorrow to hear the passing of Tom Hare. I was privileged to play with this multi-skilled par excellent musician for many years. With all his talent Tom was very humble and always gave of his best. Being a drummer was great, for Tom swung and excited the whole band causing all to raise the bar. “


The following is an extract from a moving tribute posted by Katherine Dawes (Tom's stepdaughter):

“It is a sad day for my family and musicians all over the world as we process the transition of my Step Dad the Legendary Tom Hare. Saxophonist extraordinaire! Founder of the famous Auzzie Jazz band Galapagos Duck. He has inspired countless musicians all over the world to make great music. JAZZ ONLY. For reals though…. don’t be playing any of that ‘other crap’ around Tommy.


I remember the day that Tom became a part of our family …. Mum was in a daze, dazzled by ‘the sexy sax player’ at the jazz club she was working at, then one morning I got up early to go to ballet training and there he was – on the couch, with Jack Daniels in hand. (The party hadn’t landed yet… ) He never left.


Some things about him fascinated me deeply when I was a teenager, like how he could smoke THAT much and play the sax like a boss. He used say, “This is jazz kid.” I would stare at him as he would make cream sandwiches; white bread and cream. I’d phone mum and tell her - she would just laugh.


He was fun! SUPER FUN! A charismatic number with a smoking sax! His humour was something to behold… I think he will be remembered worldwide not just for his epic musician-hood but also for his dark humour; witty, cynical, fast - he was an encyclopedia for the weirdest Auzzie Slang! And although it was easy to get into heated debates with him (which he LOVED doing with me until the wee hours of the mornings) about anything from humanities lack of basic intelligence, the mysteries of evolution, quantum physics, history, politics, religion ARGH! religion!!! and rap music… it is profoundly true that every single soul that witnessed him play that sax, was moved by the sheer radiance that oozed from the man. It was his happy place and he pulled EVERYONE in with him. He was far more spiritual than he admitted.


Some of my most magic moments with him and mum were in underground clubs in South Africa watching him blow the roof off of the joint. The Africans LOVE a good party and it was a thrill to watch such genius explode from grass roots venues. Music was his soul… and if the best players were in the ghetto… then that’s where he would gig.


Everywhere he traveled he looked out for the jazz crew… and if there wasn’t one, he started it. When he couldn’t find the musos he would go out onto the street and play that horn until they found him. And they did. They came out of the woodwork, the best players in the district. Rumours of some dude on the corner playing the sax like a GOD spread wide and fast. They couldn’t believe their luck. He started bands everywhere.


He wasn’t a fan of ageing… who is? But I have to say his hilarious bitter dialogue about the injustice of ageing and dying in general is hijacking the ‘normal reverence’ that people ‘should’ have about death. The funniest gag going around (that he would LOVE) is, Tom now has to trade the sax for a harp - to get through the pearly gates! LOL. He would be super impressed with this one! His hysterical negative rants about ageing and the injustice of the timeline inspired me years ago to write a song about him. There was always a fantastic contrast between my relentless optimism for all things at all times and his deliberate reality checks to offset my moment! The song is simply called Song for Tom. He told me, sincerely, it was my greatest songwriting achievement! LOL. Of course it is - it is about you Thomas :) Happy to share the credit… especially today.”


A further tribute comes from pianist Melvin Peters:

“So devastated to hear this sad news about Tom. He was a wonderful friend and an excellent musician. He played a pivotal role in the Durban jazz scene. I will always have fond memories of the times we played together, especially in Spain. My deepest sympathies to you Janet. RIP Tom Hare.”