One of the Garden Route’s nicest and most talented musicians, Neil van der Walt, died in his sleep at a guest lodge in Hunter’s Home, Knysna this week. Cause of death is yet unknown but was unexpected and tragic as he’d performed a show the previous evening and was in good spirits and seemingly good health.
Neil van der Walt was an incredibly talented bassist who had performed with South African greats such as Steve Newman, Robin Auld, Tony Cox and Wendy Oldfield. Many of us Knysna locals knew him from his many performances on the gazebo stage in Woodmill Lane. As Thunderbolt Sound Theatre, with Plettenberg Bay guitarist, Ben Badenhorst, he released an incredible E.P. that mixed modern guitar with African and Eastern influences – i’m glad that i have that keepsake!
I also had the pleasure of working with him, when he took the role as sound engineer, on several shows that i held at Chaplin’s Coffee Bar & Restaurant. Neil was a patient man, one of the few that actually listened when someone else spoke. He was, simply, a helluva nice guy. His presence will be missed.
PS: Please note that details are still sketchy. You are welcome to supply more info. I have spoken to several musicians but not his family as i don’t wish to trouble them during this challenging time. This is not a hard news story but simply an attempt to inform those, across, South Africa, who have queries and were fond of Neil.