Nico Carstens was a popular South African composer of accordion music. He got his first accordion at the age of 13 and won an adult music competition six months later. He composed his first music piece at the age of 17.
His music is variously classified as boeremusiek or jazz, and he made a name for himself as a hugely successful travelling musician, often spending vast periods of time on the road playing in small towns and villages as well as big cities. Carstens garnered a reputation for being a consummate professional where his music and performances were concerned, insisting that his band wore dress suits with a bow tie, frilly shirt, cummerbund and cufflinks, irrespective of the size or location of their venue. His most famous hit was the song Zambezi, which was covered by the likes of The Shadows, Dixie Aces, Bert Kaempfert, Sam Sklair, James Last, Chet Atkins and Eddie Calvert. At his height, Carstens was considered one of the top ten accordionists in the world.
Carstens was married six times and enjoyed spending the money he earned from performances on fine clothes and big cars. However, having sold the rights to his music, he died penniless in a small room in Netcare N1 old age home in Cape Town in 2016, aged 90.
(last accessed 14-11-2016)