EARLIER this week, something hugely significant happened in the world of music when the King of Pop, Michael Jackson’s smash-hit album “Thriller,” was finally toppled from its position as the best-selling musical album of-all-time.
It’s a place the album had occupied for 35 years since it smashed all records just a year after its release on November 30, 1982, catapulting Jackson into greatness, and by the end of last year, the album had sold more than 66 million copies around the globe.
But nothing lasts forever.
And, this week, another American group, The Eagles, celebrated a milestone achievement when their “Greatest Hits 1971–1975” compilation took over pole position as the best-selling album of all-time. The Eagles, a rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1971, are one of the greatest musical outfits of all-time and have sold more than 150 million records around the world.
They are well known for their smash-hit song, “Hotel California,” released in February, 1977, which continues to be celebrated as one of the finest songs of all-time.
The BBC says the song is still being played more than 200 times a month on radio in the United Kingdom, while it is played once every 11 minutes on an American radio right now, and such has been its enduring appeal it has produced a number of cover versions. Such was its impact that when a United States spy plane made an emergency landing in China in 2001, the crew members were asked to sing the lyrics of that song as part of proving they were Americans because it was felt just about every American knew the song’s lyrics. But, for all their greatness, which this week moved a notch higher with their album taking pride of place as the best-selling album of all-time, The Eagles were not an oasis of tranquillity. There was a lot of turmoil in their house, ugly fights between the band members, and the band broke up in 1980, just three years after the release of “Hotel California,” and only reunited 14 years later in 1994. Don Felder, the lead guitarist who had been with the group since 1974, was fired from the band in unceremonious fashion in 2001 in yet another signal of the chaos that was consuming this outfit even though its popularity around the world continued to grow.
Glenn Frey recalled that while “Hotel California” represented the purity of their work, it also signalled virtually the end of their romance. “We no longer trusted each other’s instincts, so there was considerable disagreement,’’ he told The Independent newspaper. “Plus, both (Don) Henley and I had developed drug habits, which didn’t help matters.’’
For all the drugs they consumed, the chaos, the break-ups, the firing of some influential band members and all the negativity associated with their journey, The Eagles continue to draw widespread appeal in the United States and around the globe.
You have to give it to the Americans for the way they place a significant value on their artists and sporting heroes, and find a way to celebrate their talents at the expense of their personal indiscretions. That is why Tiger Woods, for all his personal challenges that destroyed his marriage and pushed him into rehabilitation, still retains box-office attraction despite, now and again, failing to live up to the virtues of the role model that many expected from him. That is why even a deeply-flawed character like Donald Trump, who calls the mainstream media the enemy of the people, describes CNN and the New York Times as Fake News, and helps to buy the silence of some porn stars who says he had a fling with them in his past, can still retain his place as the American President. And, that is why a band like The Eagles still continues to dazzle the globe today with music recorded in the ’70s, despite all the drugs that became a part of their adventure, the chaos that was part of their DNA, the fighting between the band members, the acrimonious break-up in 1980 and a lot of other negatives associated with them.
TWENTY YEARS AGO, THE EAGLES SOARED AND SO DID THE GLAMOUR BOYS
Twenty years ago, in 1998, The Eagles were inducted into the prestigious Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the first year of nomination for their special contribution to music in the world.
Twenty years later, their compilation of songs from 1971 to 1975 made history this week when it toppled Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” to become the best-selling album of all-time.
As if by some coincidence, the year The Eagles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was also the same year that Dynamos made history as probably the poorest side in the history of the CAF Champions League to reach the final of the tournament. A rag-tag side, which had lost some of its best players in the purge that followed another explosion of the in-house unrest which has become part of the DNA of these Glamour Boys, somehow found a way to punch above its weight.
They managed to avoid defeats on trips to Nigeria and Ghana, back in the days when picking a point there was the closest thing to a miracle in African football, to top their group and reach the final. They lost the final showdown to ASEC Mimosas amid all the controversy of that second leg plucked from hell in Abidjan when their inspirational captain Memory Mucherahowa was head-butted into unconsciousness during warm-up by hosts who had targeted him as the difference between their evil pursuit of glory and the possibility of failure in their backyard.
But, given their lack of resources, and the clear lack of quality in their ranks, with their main weapon being an indomitable spirit to fight for their cause as a united band of warriors whose never-say-die character was sent straight from heaven, this failure at the final hurdle shouldn’t have masked the fact that theirs was an heroic campaign. However, while the Americans are able to celebrate their heroes – sporting or otherwise – despite their flawed characters, including drug abuse, we have a constituency that has been leading the way to dismiss those Glamour Boys as failures, because, according to their argument, the world has no place for those who come second. That only FOUR Southern African clubs – Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa, Nkana Red Devils of Zambia and these Glamour Boys – have reached the final of this tournament in the 53 years it has been held, hasn’t convinced some of these shameless critics that it’s not an easy journey to get there.
And that those who manage to do it should be held in high esteem, even on the occasions that they come short in the final, especially when they do not have the financial resources needed to triumph in such tournaments.
Today, very few people in this country still remember that someone like Vint Fulawo once played for Dynamos, and even featured in that Champions League final, or that the DeMbare success of that year was inspired by such players like Masimba Dinyero, Tonderai Mutambikwa, Farai Chigama and Lovemore Ncube, hardly household names when the country’s football stars are mentioned. Instead, we are ready to seemingly celebrate the fact that Arsenal reached the final of the 2006 UEFA Champions League and we consider those who lost to Barcelona 1-2 in that game as heroes because we have now been brainwashed to always have a soft-spot for the European clubs we support, to such an extent we see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil about them.
It’s very likely that some of us will run you the starting XI of that Arsenal line-up that night in France in 2006 – Lehmann, Eboue, Kolo Toure, Campbell, Cole, Pires, Gilberto, Fabregas, Hleb, Ljungberg and Thierry – but never knew that Vint Fulawo featured for DeMbare in that final in Abidjan, and like all these Gunners, ended up on the losing side.
That only THREE Southern African clubs – Pirates, Sundowns and DeMbare – have managed to reach the final of this tournament since it shed its old identity as the Cup of Club Champions and became the CAF Champions League 21 years ago, hasn’t convinced these critics that it’s not an easy journey to get there. Maybe, they know, but they are just blinded by a virus that stops them from appreciating the real value of what happens in their backyard, in an age where we have seemingly been on a crazy mission to either mock or destroy the legacy of our sporting heroes and paint a picture of their heroics as nothing to write home about. That probably explains why even when our PSL leaders decided to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of our domestic Premiership, they didn’t remember to honour those Glamour Boys of ’98, even when their heroics in the jungles of African football boosted the profile of our top-flight league like never before. For one reason or another, we are seemingly allergic to celebrating homegrown success stories, and we even celebrate when we hear that Kalusha Bwalya has been suspended, without giving him the opportunity to prove his innocence, while at the same time seeing nothing wrong that a man who served three years for defrauding his country millions in tax returns, Ulrich Hoenesse, can come straight from jail to lead the most powerful club in German, Bayern Munich.
We dismiss our black rap stars, Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G as having been agents of shame because of their indulgence in drugs, while at the same time find nothing wrong in buying the music of The Eagles even though the band’s members confirm that drugs were a big part of their adventure.
WHAT A STRANGE PEOPLE THAT WE ARE, OR WE HAVE BECOME
We mock Moses Chunga as having played for a second-rate Belgian club when the reality is that, at the time Bambo went to Europe, the doors were not as open to a flood of African footballers as is the case now, and only the very best made it to play the game on that continent.
That Kalusha, whom we acknowledge to be as good as footballers will ever come from this part of the world, was playing in that country, Belgium, by the time Bambo arrived, is lost to us in the mist of our relentless drive to try and not see the value in our homeboys. We don’t feel any sense of shame when the same Belgians invite Chunga, more than 25 years after he last played a game for them, for a special reunion with the fans because, as they said in their invitation, the supporters there are still talking about his exploits in their colours. We pretend not to hear their voices when they sing, “There’s Only One Moses Chunga,’’ as they welcome him. Neither does it shame us that he the Mayor of Aalst chooses to host him for his services to Eendracht Aalst by giving him the privilege to sign his name in the city’s Golden Book where he appends his signature alongside that of Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who is the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, the oldest ever spouse of a reigning British monarch.
Princess Mathilde, the Duchess of Brabant, who is the wife of the heir apparent to the Belgian throne Prince Phillipe, the Duke of Brabant, also have their names signed into the same Golden Book of the City. When we talk about Peter Ndlovu, we don’t seemingly find the pride of him being the first African to feature in the English Premiership, but, instead, we choose to focus on saying he played for an obscure and modest side, Coventry City, which we now mock as having slid down the leagues.
That he became the first visiting footballer to score a hattrick at Anfield against Liverpool on March 14, 1995, after Norwich City’s Terry Allcock in 1961, is all lost in the gloom of our negativity when it is supposed to provide us with a reason to see why our Flying Elephant was special. Some choose to find delight in discussing his marital challenges, which saw him being dragged into court, while the same people somehow deliberately choose to ignore the fact that the former Arsenal skipper Tony Adams, whom they worship because of their support for the Gunners, went to jail because of driving under the influence of alcohol. That the same Gunners retained Adams as their skipper, even as he served jail, and returned to take his captain armband, is lost among this group of critics.
Or that Woods had his own such problems. Some of them say Benjani was just a lucky chap, who wasn’t a very good footballer, and wasn’t supposed to play for Manchester City, but they turn a blind eye on some poor signings, even by Sir Alex Ferguson himself, like Frenchman William Prunier, who played only two games for the Red Devils.
Or Pat McGibson, who only featured once for United, Doug Fangzhuo, who made only three appearances, Massimo Taibi, who conceded 11 goals in his only four matches for United, and Ralph Milne, who failed to make even a single appearance in his final 18 months at Old Trafford before leaving for Hong Kong.
That one of us, Kenny Nagoli, even was good enough to pay for Pele’s Santos FC in Brazil, hardly matters to us, and — with time — the brilliance of our superstars like Jomo Sono, Godfrey “Ucar’’ Chitalu, Ndaye “Volvo’’ Mulamba, Ace Ntsoelengoe, Peter Kaumba, Kinah Phiri, George Shaya, Freddie Mukwesha, will be forgotten because no one will be there to tell their stories. And all that our kids will probably hear is that Kalusha was once banned by FIFA, that Jabu Pule Mahlangu had a drink problem, that the Bundu Boys had a drink problem, yet they will continue listening to “Hotel California,” and buying the music of The Eagles as if the American group never touched drugs and were virtual saints.
JOKE OF THE WEEK
When Khama Billiat won the man-of-the-match award during Sundowns’ 1-1 draw against Chiefs, his former coach Pitso Mosimane asked, live on television, whether the winner had been selected by text messages from the fans.
He disputed the award with the words, “what did he do?’’
On Sunday, Khama turned 28 and Pitso’s conversation with Robert Marawa was given a new funny meaning:
Marawa: Coach, it’s Khama Billiat’s birthday today, any present for your former player?
Pitso: Is this an sms thing again like that Shell Cup?
Pitso: Who chooses birthdays for footballers?
Marawa: Do you think it’s not Khama’s birthday today?
Pitso: What did he do?
To God Be The Glory!
Come on Warriors!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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