About Mike Perry
A Short Musical Biography
Born in East London in 1950, Mike Perry started playing the piano very young. He was lucky to have a piano and an old gramophone. He was exposed to different sorts of music but the rock revolution of the 60’s really inspired him to make music his career. He played in various bands through school and university (UCT) and went pro at the age of 20. Toured Zimbabwe with Milestones, Thrust and Roadshow in the early 70’s before doing piano on cruise liners round Europe for nearly 3 years.
Returning to Cape Town Mike joined Scottfree, a versatile 6 piece band led by Mike Scott, and that lasted 5 years. Scottfree worked Maseru, Joburg, Sun City and then toured SA on the Tina Turner tour. After a few residencies in Cape Town the band finally split. This band was an important stepping stone for him. It had a strong jazz influence and everyone contributed to material and arrangements. The band was hardworking and they always did jazz gigs in addition to the residency “general business “ musical demands. Branch Office, Joburg Jazz Club, Hillbrow Tower were highlights and Scottfree was also expanded into Octoplus, a biggish band well led by trombonist John Davis.
On the road again this time to Botswana for a year as solo pianist at the President and Holiday Inn hotels. He was able to expand his repertoire greatly during this time and in ’82 he got the gig at the new Cape Sun Hotel in Strand Street Cape Town. This led to the Palm Court “mood music “albums and he was able to renew his friendship with sax legend Winston Mankunku. It wasn’t long before they were packing out the Noon gun bar 3 times a week! They still found time to rehearse originals and this woodshedding resulted in a trip to London to record Jika, which achieved some international releases and is still active after 20 years.
Mike left for engagements as a solo pianist in Germany and Switzerland in ’87 and worked piano bars and hotels extensively. On his return he did Cape Sun and Mt. Nelson gigs as well as continuing to work and play with Winston. In ’97 he started at the new Table Bay Hotel on the Waterfront. In the interim Jika was still selling well so we recorded Dudula and Molo Africa. Molo Africa won the SAMA Award in the jazz category in ’99. He then released an album of his own material called Siyamemeza (We are Calling) in 2001.
Over the last 5 years, he has been the resident pianist at both the Cullinan and Cape Sun hotels, playing at breakfast time at the Cape Sun 5 days a week and 6 the evenings a week at the Cullinan.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Mike is currently playing every first and last Sunday of the month at the Cullinan Peach Tree restaurant from 12:30 to 3pm.