Clem Tholet

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Clem Tholet
Clem Tholet.JPG
Clem Tholet
Background information
Born 1948
Salisbury, Rhodesia
Died 6 October 2004(2004-10-06) (aged 56)
Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
Genres Folk, rock and roll
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1966–2004
Labels RND Records
Website Official website

Clem Tholet (1948 – 6 October 2004) was a Rhodesian folk singer who became popular in the 1970s for his Rhodesian patriotic songs.[1] He reached the height of his fame during the Rhodesian Bush War.

Clem was born in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia in 1948 and began writing songs while he was an art student in Durban, South Africa. One of his first songs, Vagabond Gun was a category winner at the South Africa Music Festival in 1966. Clem later moved back to Rhodesia to work in advertising. He started singing at Rhodesia's first folk venue, The Troubadour in Salisbury's Angwa Street. Whilst performing there, he met Sue Eccles and Andy Dillon. The trio formed a group called The Kinfolk, then moved to South Africa, and shortly after moving to Johannesburg, Eccles left the group.

Clem and Andy formed a new group with Yvonne Raff, which they called The Legend Trio. This new trio began singing at the original Southern African "Troubadour", and were also involved in a number of SAFMA's National Folk Fests.

Clem married Jean Smith (daughter of Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith) in 1967.

Clem embarked on a solo career, recording some singles with Art Heatlie at Trutone. Mel Miller, Peter Leroy and Sylvia Stott briefly joined Clem to form a group in 1970, before Clem moved back to Rhodesia in 1971. Clem returned and soon built up a strong following. He did a series of Rhodesian Television shows, and presented a radio programme called Folk on the Rocks, aired for two series. The name came from the folk club Clem ran at The Beverley Rocks, where it played to regular packed houses.

A popular star of the annual Bless 'Em All Troop Shows, and in great demand in the Rhodesian entertainment scene, Clem recorded his first album Songs of Love & War at Shed Studios. Clem wrote and produced the album himself. The album was awarded a Gold Disc. He wrote the soundtrack and songs for the C.I.S. film What A Time it Was and the theme song for a film honouring the wounded troopies of Rhodesia, Tsanga, Tsanga.

He appeared at the 7 Arts Theatre, Harare in the first half, supporting the American comedian Shelley Berman with members of the Shed Studios band – Comprising Martin Norris, Steve Roskilly, Bothwell Nyamhondera, Tony Logan and Steve Hughes. As artistic director of the advertising agency Matthewman Banks and Tholet, he was instrumental in writing a great many and memorable music jingles for his clients. He produced a second album at Shed Studios, called Two Sides to Every Story, before moving back to South Africa. After living and working in the advertising industry for many years in Cape Town, Clem died on 6 October 2004 after having suffered from the effects of a debilitating illness for a number of years.[2][3]

Clem's last album, Archives was (and is) sold as a fundraiser to benefit the Flame Lily Foundation. This fundraising project seeks to provide funds for the living expenses of elderly former residents of Rhodesia/ Zimbabwe living in South Africa, who have been denied their pensions by the Zimbabwean government.[4]



Album Year Label Notes
Songs of Love & War 1979 Teal Gold Disc Award
Two Sides to Every Story 197? Teal
Archives 2004 RND Sold as a fundraiser for Rhodesian pensioners


Singles Year Label Notes
Vagabond Gun 1966 Category winner South Africa Music Festival
The Cold Side 1968 Renown
Mirror of My Mind 1968 Renown
With Pen in Hand 1968 Renown
True Love is a Tear 1968 Renown
Vrystaat 1969 Renown
Rhodesians Never Die 1973 Blackberry
Hey, Hey Jerome 1973 Blackberry
Peace Dream 1977 Teal
The Last Farewell 1978 Teal
Song for Johnny 1978 Teal
What a Time it Was 1978 Teal
Zambesi, Zimbabwe 1980 Stanyan
Sunny Days and Rain 1980 Stanyan
Used Car Dealer 1980 Stanyan
Somebody Else's Song 1981 Stanyan

Film tracks[edit]

Film Tracks Year Label Notes
What a Time it Was
What a Time it Was
Golden Days
With His Hands
Peace Dream
If the World Had Another Hitler
Tsanga, Tsanga

See also[edit]

  • John Edmond
  • Mark Green "Story of Rhodesia – Tribute to Clem Tholet"; Hrungnir Records, CD (2009)


  1. ^ Kriel, Margaret. "Farewell Clem Tholet". Morning Mirror. Retrieved 27 July 2013. 
  2. ^ Rhodesian Music Website – Solo Artists Archived 16 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Clem Tholet's biography Archived 14 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Rhodie Oldies need your help Archived 3 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine.

Further reading[edit]

  • "Clem Tholet RIP". 3rd Ear Music. Retrieved 27 July 2013.  Includes Clem Tholet's self-penned obituary "Goodbye".