Van Zandt Got Paul Simon's Name Removed From Death List

01/30/2014
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(Classic Rock) E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt has told how he persuaded apartheid-era South African freedom fighters to let him argue their case through music - and, in the process, got Paul Simon's name taken off a death list.

Bruce Springsteen's long-time collaborator masterminded the recording of 1985 protest song Sun City, by Artists United Against Apartheid. The track drew large-scale attention to the racist regime in South Africa with the help of those who took part, including Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, Keith Richards, Pete Townshend, Michael Monroe and many others.

Many artists and businesses were boycotting South Africa at the time, applying pressure that would eventually lead to the freeing of Nelson Mandela and the dismantling of apartheid. But when Van Zandt visited the nation to gain the support of radical organisation AZAPO, he put his own life on the line.

He then discovered that AZAPO had a list of people they planned to assassinate - and Paul Simon was at the top of it for having continued to accept work in South Africa despite the global boycott, including the making of his 1986 album Graceland.

Van Zandt continued: "In spite of my feelings about Paul Simon I said to them: 'Listen, I understand your feelings about this; I might even share them, but this is not gonna help anybody if you knock off Paul Simon. Trust me on this, alright?

"'Let's put that aside for the moment. Give me a year or so to try and do this a different way. I'm trying to actually unify the music community around this, which may or may not include Paul Simon. I just don't need that distraction right now; I got to keep my eye on the ball.' A lot more.

Classic Rock Magazine is an official news provider for antiMusic.com.
Copyright Classic Rock Magazine- Excerpted here with permission.

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