Drowning in Billy’s ocean - PHOTOS

Billy Ocean performing during the Joy of Jazz Festival Picture: ANTONIO MUCHAVE/SOWETAN
Billy Ocean performing during the Joy of Jazz Festival Picture: ANTONIO MUCHAVE/SOWETAN

I never really knew who Billie Ocean was, but the name has always been familiar because in the township where I grew up, people in taverns or taxis or anywhere else are fans of his music.

Growing up the name Billy Ocean was even given a local twist by calling him Billie Lewaatle (ocean in SeSotho).

Growing up my grandmother  -  who was a tad too serious  -  would tell everyone who would listen that Billie is actually a South African from Mamelodi who went abroad to pursue a career in music and ended up changing his last name. 

The past weekend I got a front seat introduction to the man, his music and his adoring fans since Ocean was one of the headline acts at the Standard Bank Joy if Jazz .

Like high school pupils moving from one class to the other, people made way to the Mbira stage where Ocean was to perform.

In his introduction of Ocean, Lupi Ngcayisa mentioned the late Metro FM DJ Eddie Zondi and how he would have been there on the night- this somehow helped eliminate worries that Ocean might perform songs I had not ever heard.

Sitting at the feet of those with the best seats, my legs crossed like a child at a crèche waiting for his meal, attentively waiting for the chance to listen to the legend I had heard so much of .

The crowd roared when the 64-year-old Grammy winner got on stage.

As he sang ‘Stay The Night’, a lady on my far right, who must have been around the same age as Ocean, beamed like a 14-year-old girl at a Justin Bieber concert.

“I was only three when he was last in South Africa 20 years ago,” a lady in her retirement age said. “Yoh, where’s my mother,” she added when Ocean sang ‘Colour Of Love’.

Perspiration had already found its way down his fine suite and I still I had not yet heard a familiar song but the crowd was enjoying every minute, singing along to the legend’s tunes.

Suddenly, he sang a song I knew. It was his 1984 classic ‘Suddenly’ which I suspected I must have heard on Zondi’s radio show over the years.

The other and only song that was not new to my ears was ‘Loverboy’ which brought out the rockers at the Jazz.

Even Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor seemed to be enjoying the show, not just a song about a lover boy.

At times it felt like I was gate-crashing a senior citizen’s party, but I enjoyed Billie Ocean’s set which felt like an R&B journey through time.