1970 marked the year that David Gresham and independent producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange cut the ribbon and opened its doors to what is now the longest running independent record company in South Africa, The David Gresham Record Company. Mutt later went on to work with Clive Calder of the hugely successful Zomba Records state-side. Calder was initially the A&R manager at EMI, South Africa, and at the time of establishment, EMI handled David Gresham Records’ distribution.
Now, 52 years on, The David Gresham Entertainment Group consists of a full promotional, marketing and sales team with the head office in Johannesburg. The Johannesburg office also has two recording studios.
David Gresham Biography
“Gruesome Gresh” from those bygone Springbok Radio (National radio station) days, is proud to be celebrating his 49th year as South Africa’s longest running independent record company.
The famous saying “Keep your feet on the ground and reach for the stars” which David used on the South African favourites such as TV hit shows Pop Shop and Easy Beat, the SA Top Twenty Hit Parade, the Daily Drive Show on Springbok Radio and the breakfast shows on 5FM (then Radio Five), is a reflection of how he has always lived his life.
David Gresham was born in Mbabane, Swaziland. After school, he traveled to Johannesburg to commence his apprenticeship as an Electro-Medical Engineer. David soon realized that mathematics was not exactly a passion…
At what would become one of the most significant of meetings, David was introduced to Dave Gooden and Herrick Merrill Recording Studios by LM Radio personality, Rob Vickers. David was offered a position as a sound engineer on radio productions such as “No place to hide”, “Squad Cars”, “Address Unknown” to mention but a few! He enjoyed this position for three years.
He successfully auditioned for LM Radio in Mozambique and remained there for a further two & a half years years.
In 1967, David returned to South Africa to take up a position of Promotions and A&R Manager at Teal Records simultaneously he was offered the Drive Show on Springbok Radio – The Record Express at 5:30pm. The show was moved to 4:30pm and soon after that became The David Gresham Show.
In 1969, David was the only South African DJ to be allowed to interview the then Beatles member, John Lennon was David Gresham. David still has a recording of an apology from John Lennon to Springbok Radio and their listeners for saying that the Beatles were more popular than Christ. The interview is available on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxHnYnilv4M).
Other artists that David was fortunate to interview and introduce to the South African listeners include: Ringo Starr, Tom Jones, Elton John, Bryan Ferry, Kenny Rogers, Engelbert Humperdinck, The Bee Gee’s, Robin Gibb (in a separate interview), Lulu (who was married to Morris Gibb), Anne Margaret and Petula Clark, Ozzy Osbourne and more.
In 1971 David was asked to host the Springbok Radio Top 20 on Friday nights. The show was repeated on a Saturday afternoon. David changed the name to the South African Top 20 and continued to host the show until 1985 when Springbok Radio closed down. The SA Top 20 then moved to Radio Orion and then to SAFM.
On commencement of television in South Africa in 1976, just six weeks into broadcasting – David hosted Pop Shop, which took the South African public by storm and which he presented for a number of years. He then moved onto presenting Easy Beat and was also involved in presenting various fillers for the young TV station.
The David Gresham Record Company became a Pty (Ltd) in 1972. Prior to this happening, David wrote a song called “I’ll walk with You”. However, no one was interested in the song until he met Sean Rennie at the Sandton Civic Center. Once recorded it was taken to the EMI A&R Manager, Clive Calder who instantly believed in what he was listening to.
One of the company’s first record labels was Nitty Gritty Records which released the Jessica Jones version of “Baby I Love You” followed by “Sunday, Monday, Tuesday” which was produced with the now famous Mutt Lange.
Allan Goldswain, keyboard player from the band Hocus, became David’s business partner in later years. Between them they continued to produce Jessica and various other local acts.
On radio, David gave tremendous support to South African acts such as Joy “Paradise Road” and PJ Powers “Jabulani”, whom he proudly acknowledges as being responsible for breaking in South Africa! Other South African acts he has been responsible for breaking and supporting via The David Gresham Record Company include Stingray, Sean Rennie, McCully Workshop, Nick Taylor, Stockley Sisters, Wonderboom, Q-Kumba Zoo, Prime Circle, Connell Cruise, Jimmy Nevis, Armand Hofmeyr, Amor Vitonne and Ghoema award winner Heuning.
International acts that have been licensed to The David Gresham Record Company include: Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Foster & Allen, Depeche Mode, Erasure, Ace of Base, Moby, Garbage, Placebo and Nickelback and many more.
David has always been pro-South African from his very first days on radio. In fact, the saying “Local is Lekker” was first broadcast on The David Gresham Show by Peter Feldman who was hosting the regular “Pop News” insert and “invented” this much used saying. 2021 marks the 49th anniversary of David Gresham Records and we have no doubt that there are still 49 more years of hits to come!