Any South African who listened to music in the late 70s or early 80s, or who had parents who did, knows of the South African all girl band Clout. Their biggest hit Substitute reached number one in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Austria, Denmark and Belgium. Substitute was held to the #2 slot by the #1 “You’re The One That I Want”, from the hit musical film Grease on the UK Singles Chart and this success was followed by other major hits including Save Me, You’ve Got All of Me, Under Fire and Portable Radio.
The original five members were Cindy Alter, Lee Tomlinson, Ingrid “Ingi” Herbst (now Brough), Glenda Hyam and Jenni Garson. I met with Ingi to chat about the band days and catch up!
So one night Glenda and I went out to meet Lee, and then we had a possible bass player. Then we actually put out ads. Jenni and Cindy arrived, and we only needed one more person, but Cindy was the perfect front line person, and we didn’t say no. That’s how the band came about. The name itself refers to power, or to girl power. And within 3 – 4 months we had a big hit with Substitute.
Clout was big from 1977 – 1981. Let’s face it, that was a crazy time in South African politics, being just about at the height of apartheid. Were you affected by the politics of the day?
Oh yes, we were. We weren’t allowed to play on British TV shows, like Top of the Pops. We were questioned quite often about what was happening and occasionally people would get quite tough about the politics. We were affected by the sanctions on South Africa. Top of the Pops in Britain acquired a video clip from Holland to present the hit song for their top ten countdown.
What was the most fun thing about touring?
It’s not really a fun thing about touring, touring is touring and its hectic. You’re on the road all the time. You’re supposed to look good all the time, no matter how many hours you haven’t slept, or how many gigs you’ve done. You can finish a gig at 11 and then the record company will then take you out to dinner and bowling at 12 at night. And then you get home and you’ve got to be at the airport at six to get to the next place to do a TV show and people waiting. I think the worst thing is always travelling on planes, it makes your hair flat. You get dehydrated if you fly or travel so much. We did Germany like that, we had to have a big bus, a Putco type bus. That was brilliant. And we did gigs with a lot of other big bands at the time – ABBA, Boney M and Phil Linnit. They were good days!
Ingi currently has her own business in the perfume industry. Contact her here.
Clout music is available on Itunes