Jimmy Dludlu was 13 years old when he first picked up a cousin's home made guitar and started teaching himself to play by imitating the jazz and African music he heard on the radio. Township weddings and functions with his cousin were his first performances.
A highlight of this period was his performance with Anansi at the Botswana Independence celebrations in 1986, alongside a range of African stars including Thomas Mapfumo. When His career took off in earnest in the mid-1980's, he worked with various southern African bands including Impandze from Swaziland, featuring Jamaican singer Trevor Hall, featuring the Ghanaian saxophonist George Lee, Kalahari and Satari from Botswana as well as Anansi.
Being a founder member of the highly successful group Loading Zone back in 1991, which went on to tour across the continent, backing a range of South African stars whom are namely Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, Brenda Fassie, Chicco and Sipho Mabuse. During this period, Jimmy also recorded with Miriam Makeba on the album "Eyes on Tomorrow", and participated in the Sun City production Sax Appeal, appearing with the likes of Rene McLean, Winston Mankunku, Robbie Jansen, Victor Ntoni and the late Duke Makasi. This period was a highlight of Loading Zone's Namibian tour in 1992, when they were spotted by Zairean world-music star Papa Wemba, who subsequently asked the band to back him on several dates in Namibia.
In September 1990, he took part in the Market Theatre production Conversations with Canadian Bruce Cassidy on Trumpet and EVI, and South African Barney Rachabane on sax. Jimmy worked as a session musician with McCoy Mrubata and his band Brotherhood, which won the Gilbey's Music of Africa Competition a year later.
Jimmy was now hanging out with the likes of Robbie Jansen, Winston Mankunku and Victor Ntoni; his career was well on track. A year later Loading Zone was touring Namibia. Coincidentally, the Zairian Papa Wemba was also on tour and he invited the band to back him at several performances. The following year he was at the Smirnoff Jazz Festival in Grahamstown with the band Ojoyo and again in 1994 with Herb Ellis (formerly with Oscar Petersen).
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