Born into a musical Johannesburg family, Moeketsi was the youngest of eleven brothers, and one sister who was a nurse (Mirriam Ntsadi Kathar, née Moeketsi), all but four of whom played an instrument. Growing up in George Goch township was unpleasant for him and he was often truant.
At 20 he started playing clarinet, but would soon move on to the saxophone. Influenced by his pianist brother Jacob Moeketsi, Kippie's career began in shebeens with Band in Blue. Over the years he played with several bands including Shantytown Sextet, the Harlem Swingsters and famously the Jazz Epistles that brought fame to him, Abdullah Ibrahim (or Dollar Brand as he was known then), Jonas Gwangwa, and Hugh Masekela. Moeketsi claimed that he taught Ibrahim everything he knew about music.
Often introduced as "Bra Joe from Kilimanjaro", Kippie joined the cast of King Kong, which would take him to London. After the Sharpeville massacre of 1960, most of his contemporaries went into exile, but he returned to South Africa. In the oppressive circumstances he would not perform for four years.
After many years of alcohol abuse Moeketsi died penniless and disgruntled in 1983, aged 58.
- The Newtown jazz club Kippies, located at the Market Theatre, is named after him.
- A bronze sculpture of him was unveiled on 25 September 2009.
- Peter Esterhuysen, Kippie Moeketsi: Sad Man of Jazz, Viva Books, 1995.
- "Kippie Jeremiah Moeketsi", South African History Online.
- Davie, Lucille (September 16, 2002). "Kippies, the club that wasn't always there".
- "A tribute to Kiepie Moeketsi - "Bra Joe from Kilimanjaro"".
- Mike Gavin (2001). "Township Jazz". Archived from the original on April 5, 2005.
- "Kippie lives on in Newtown", Joburg website.
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