The South African music industry has been rocked by the shock death of George Bacon (real name George Bougas), frontman of revered punk stalwarts Hog Hoggidy Hog. He was 40 years old. Bacon passed away in his sleep just hours after his band performed a comeback gig at The Assembly in Cape Town on Friday 29 May. The gig was meant to kick off the band’s comeback tour of the country, titled #HogsAreBack.
The Cape Town-based Hog Hoggidy Hog were known for their energetic blend of punk and ska along with traditional African influences, to create an original sound they referred to as “pork rock”. The band has been active within the South African music scene since 1995 and toured the European circuit several times since 2005, playing alongside global punk stars like NOFX, Lagwagon and Bad Religion. One of the longest surviving live acts in South Africa, they are credited as pioneers of the local punk scene and are sometimes also referred to as the godfathers of punk in SA.
On Monday 1 June, the band released an official statement on Bacon’s death. According to the statement, George arrived back at the band’s accommodation outside Cape Town's CBD after the gig. It was only after someone tried to wake him up the next morning that they discovered that he had passed away in his sleep. The cause of his death remains unconfirmed and details will be made available at a later stage.
According to the band, "It is with great sadness that we write this message. We have lost our brother and his memory will live on in our minds and hearts forever. All our love and condolences to Verena, Draco and family. George, you will be missed with all our hearts."
George was an icon in South Africa’s underground music for the past 20 years and the band had big plans for their official comeback this year. His untimely death came just a month before the Hogs were to celebrate their 20-year anniversary at the end of June this year. Further adding to the tragedy, Bacon leaves behind a wife and baby son, Draco, who was born just five months ago.
Bacon had lived in Cape Town, Chicago, Berlin and London. In a recent interview he explained: “After having travelled the world quite a bit, there is a certain sense of freedom that you can only get from living in Africa and in spite of all we don’t have in comparison, I still feel privileged having been born an African. If that somehow comes through in our music and is interpreted as being positive and uplifting then that is awesome."
The South African music industry and others who knew him have been expressing their feelings on social media. George’s family and his bandmates are grateful for all the kind words and condolences that they have been receiving from friends, fans and media during this painful time. Shortly after his death, the George Bacon Memorial Fund was set up to raise money for George’s wife Verena and baby son Draco. Many fans have already banded together to donate, but more funds are still needs to help fill the massive hole left by George’s untimely passing. To donate, click here. Local punk bands Fuzigish and Japan & I are hosting a benefit show at Rumours Lounge in Johannesburg on 13 June, with proceeds going directly to George’s family.