Formed in Durban, South Africa in 1989 by vocalist Themba ‘Ncane’ Ngubane. Skeleton emerged from the ashes of Ngubane’s previous group Mshoza, the other members having been killed by gunmen in a gangland massacre in 1988. Following this Ngubane decided to give up music but was inspired to carry on by Joseph Shabalala of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Recruiting his brother ‘Skeleton’ Musa Ngubane (guitar), plus Mangisi Zondo (keyboards) and drummer Zandile Zumathe he decided to explore traditional Zulu ‘Maskanda’ rhythms with this new group (named after his brother’s nickname). Skeleton were spotted by Sipho Gumede while they were playing a free show on the steps of Durban’s City Hall and he was impressed enough to recommend them to Robert Trunz, head of the MELT 2000 label, who invited Skeleton to record in Johannesburg in 1995. The resulting self-titled album was released internationally three years later and featured guest appearances from other MELT artists Busi Mhlongo, Dizu Plaatjies (of Amampondo) and Mabi Thobejane, on a set of stripped-down, funky South African dance tunes.
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