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|Born||September 23, 1955|
|Died||August 4, 2005(aged 49)|
|Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front|
|Relatives||Tryson Chimbetu, Naison Chimbetu|
Simon "Chopper" Chimbetu was a Zimbabwean Dendera Music artist,vocalist,guitarist and performer. He is considered as the father of the Dendera Music genre. He performed as co-lead of the band The Marxist Brothers which he formed together with his brother Naison Chimbetu. He later formed the musical group The Orchestra Dendera Kings and launched a successful solo career. He is the father of Dendera Music artist Sulumani Chimbetu.
Simon was born on 23 September 1955  His father, Benson Chimbetu was a bricklayer who moved around taking on construction jobs on houses around the country. He attended Msengezi High School and was part of a group of children abducted during the liberation struggle. He was asked to return home because he was too young. He became part of the liberation struggle when he joined local guerrilla forces and went as far as Tanzania for training. When he returned home to Chegutu, where his father worked on a farm he was sent to Harare, then called Salisbury, to escape the Rhodesian army. His brother Naison later followed him and they stayed together in Dzivarasekwa. After the country's independence Simon took on a job at a tobacco processing company despite continuing to pursue a career in music.
Simon launched his career in the late 1970s with his brother Naison. the two of them sang in bars until they were discovered by Chris Mutema who sent them to established artist Zexie Manatsa. Failing to get assistance at this stop the two brothers sought assistance from Chris Mutema yet again. This time they were sent to Mushandirapamwe Hotel, located in Highfield. Here they met Joseph Ngoyi and the OK Express, the resident band there. As the Chimbetu duo did not have their own instruments they sang vocals to their own songs,with The OK Express acting as a backing band. Following a rise in popularity and Joseph Ngoyi and his band being asked to leave by the hotel management, the Chimbetus were left without a band and were directed to Domboshava where they met up with The Sungura Boys. After bringing in The Sungura Boys to Harare the Chimbetus continued to gain popularity. At this point The Sungura Boys brought in John Chibadura to compose songs and sing for their own act and counter the fame of the Chimbetus.
Eventually The Sungura Boys were asked to leave and The Chimbetus formed The Marxist Brothers with help from their brothers Allan and Brian. They first saw success with the hit Nherera. The band's first album "Mwana Wedangwe" was released in 1983. This was followed by seven other records;"Kunjere Kunjere"(1985),"Dendera Resango" (1985),"Sarura Yako"(1987),"Kuipa Chete"(1988),"Marxist Brothers"(1989),"Boterekwa"(1989) and "Solid Gold-Greatest Hits of Early Music"(1991)
Simon's solo career was launched with the release of the album "Nguva Yakaoma" in 1990. Following the disbanding of The Marxist Brothers he formed his own band, The Orchestra Dendera Kings. His career was disrupted by his four year prison sentence between 1990 and 1994. During this period two of his albums were released; "Ndouraiwa" (1992) and "Karikoga" (1993). Following his release from prison in 1994 he released the album "Pachipamwe". This was followed by the albums "Survival" and "Zuva Raenda" which were released in 1997. Subsequent efforts included "Lullaby"(1998), "African Panorama-Chapter One"(1999),"2000 Blend"(2000),"African Panorama-Chapter Two"(2001),"Takabatana"(2001) and "Hoko"(2002). The last album Simon worked on "10 Million Pounds Reward" was released in 2005.
Controversy and decline
- In 1989 Simon Chimbetu was charged and convicted of car theft despite pleading not guilty. He served time at Khami Prison between 1990 and 1994.
- Simon was criticized by some of his fans for his support of The Land Redistribution Programme called the Third Chimurenga.
- Simon was taken to court over a disputed 500 hectare farm in Kadoma which he was utilizing for dairy farming and maize production.
- Simon's strong political opinion which was referenced in his music through songs such as "Hoko" led to a decline in interest in his music, a fact he attributed to a "campaign" against him.
- In September 2013 it was reported in weekly paper The Sunday Mail that a young man,Paddy Kamusakara claimed that Simon Chimbetu was his father.
- In 2008 man by the name Chamu Boroma claimed to be the illegitimate son of Simon Chimbetu which was reportedly contested by some of the Chimbetu family members. Despite this Chamu Boroma joined the Chimbetu family onstage in a performance at a tribute concert for Simon Chimbetu.
Death and Legacy
"Chopper" died on the 14th of August 2005. He had complained of chest pains and feeling dizzy before collapsing at his home in Harare. He was awarded provincial hero status and buried at Chinhoyi Provincial Heroes' Acre. In a eulogy given by cabinet minister Webster Shamu Simon was described as a patriotic musician with Zimbabwe at heart and not a "mercenary". Simon is credited as the father of Dendera Music. His music was viewed as a new style of Chimurenga music as he had themes centred strongly on Pan-Africanism. Chimbetu’s musical orientation was strongly influenced by his experiences as a black person in a racially polarised Rhodesia and Marxist ideals. His children Sulumani Chimbetu and Saiwe Chimbetu also pursued careers in music.
Work with The Marxist Brothers
- Mwana Wedangwe (1983)
- Kunjere Kunjere (1985)
- Dendera Resango (1985)
- Sarura Yako (19870
- Kuipa Chete (1988)
- Marxist Brothers (1989)
- Boterekwa (1989)
- Solid Gold-Greatest Hits of Early Music (1991)
- Nguva Yakaoma (1990)
- Ndouraiwa (1992)
- Karikoga (1993)
- Pachipamwe (1994)
- Survival (1997)
- Zuva Raenda (1997)
- Lullaby (1998)
- African Panorama – Chapter One (1999)
- 2000 Blend (2000)
- African Panorama – Chapter Two (2001)
- Takabatana (2001)
- Hoko (2002)
- 10 Million Pounds Reward (2005)
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- Problem Masau,A fitting tribute to ‘Father of Dendera’, The Herald, Published: 16 August 2013, Retrieved: 16 March 2014
- Simon Chimbetu,zimlegends, Retrieved: on 16 March 2014
- Garikai Mazara Chimbetu's ‘son’ an impostor?,The Sunday Mail,Published: 22 September 2013, Retrieved: 16 March 2014
- Wonder Guchu Simon Chimbetu was a closed box, Intimacy with Zim Musicians,Published: 23 September 2011, Retrieved: 16 March 2014
- Peter Matika,Simon ‘Chopper’ Chimbetu commemorations on the cardsSunday News,Published: 23 June 2013, Retrieved: 16 March 2014
- Simon Chimbetu,"Ezomgido Online",Retrieved 16 March 2014
- Naison Chimbetu dies,New Zimbabwe, Retrieved: 16 March 2014
- Mduduzi Mathuthu,Chimbetu: 'I am a critic of foolish politics',New Zimbabwe,Retrieved: 16 March 2014
- Simon Chimbetu’s widow, Angela dies ,The Standard,Published: 25 August 2013, Retrieved: 16 March 2014
- Trust Khosa Fans pay last respects to Chimbetu,New Zimbabwe Online, Retrieved: 16 March 2014
- Row over Chimbetu’s ‘secret child’,Newsday,Published: 26 July 2011, Retrieved: 16 March 2014
- Chopper's 'son' speaks out,The Herald,Published: 16 August 2013, Retrieved: 16 March 2014
- Chimbetu to get state burial,New Zimbabwe, Retrieved 16 March 2014
- Chimurenga,Encyclopaedia Britannica, Retrieved: 16 March 2014
- Simon Chimbetu daughter to launch album today,NewsDay,Retrieved: 16 March 2014