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|Birth name||Simon Chopper Chimbetu|
|Also known as||Chopper
23 September 1955|
|Died||14 August 2005
|Occupations||Singer, songwriter, musician, arranger, bandleader|
|Instruments||Singing, Rhythm guitar,|
|Associated acts||Oliver Mtukudzi, Allan Chimbetu, Orchestra Dendera Kings|
Early life 
Chimbetu was born in the Musengezi area of Mbire District in Mashonaland Province of Zimbabwe on 23 September 1955. But his ancestral tribal origins of the Samanyika tribe is in Manicaland,the eastern region of Zimbabwe, bordering with the neighbouring country of Mozambique. His father was a bricklayer and Simon regularly accompanied his father on his business errands. He attended the local Musengezi High School before trekking to Harare(then Salisbury) to look for employment.
Liberation War 
Chimbetu got involved in the fledgling liberation struggle and at one point went as far as Tanzania after joining the ZANU PF movement forces training there. Although he did not go to the front, Simon provided morale through his music. He returned to Zimbabwe before 1980. Chimbetu's musical orientation is strongly influenced by his experiences as a black person in racially-polarised Rhodesia and a liberation fighter with Marxist ideals at first.
Return to Harare 
Chimbetu worked for a tobacco processing company for many years after the attainment of political freedom in 1980. His passion for music did not wane. Rather, he regularly played at Mushandirapamwe Hotel in Highfield, a high-density suburb in Harare. At this point he was backed by John Chibadura's Sungura Boys as he did not have his own instruments. His younger brother, Naison backed him and together they performed as Marxist Brothers because of the then prevailing political ideology which had also shaped Simon's war experiences. Together, the siblings penned songs like Dr Nero(Naison) and Nherera(Simon) which gave them visibility on the Zimbabwean musical front.
Rise to fame 
Chimbetu realised greater success when he went solo, recording all-time classics like Kuipa Chete, Ngoma Yanditora Moyo, Mwana Wedangwe, Southern Africa and many others. He called his brand of sungura dendera, a reference to a common tropical bird with a booming bass sound. Chimbetu's songs are distinguished by this deep, booming bass guitar that can be heard from way off.
What also distinguished Simon from many other sungura/museve artists at this time and throughout his career was that his music was always politically conscious, for better or for worse. The song Kuipa Chete for example bemoans a situation whereby "free" Zimbabweans continued to be exploited by largely unrepentant white farmers who virtually continued to live in Rhodesia, spurning the hand of reconciliation. Towards the end of the 80s, Cimbetu recorded many hits and grew to be force to reckon with on the scene. He is famous for penning and singing such songs as Samatenga, One Way, Dzandipedza Mafuta and many others. The man had great charm, a cheeky smile and a very warm personality. The Rhythm guitar work on his songs is most extraordinary. Simon also had a great facility with languages, being fluent in several and having in sung in Shona, Chewa, Ndebele and Swahili, among others. Having at one time joined the liberation war, Chimbetu is also noted for his critical lyrics such as in the songs Southern Africa, Kuipa Chete and Simba Nederere, among many others.
Upon returning to Zimbabwe from Tanzania in the late 1970s, Chimbetu worked for a tobacco processing firm while learning the musical ropes. During these days he sang at clubs and hotels with the Sungura Boys, fronted by John Chibadura. The Sungura Boys however just provided the instrumental backing, with Simon and Naison, his brother doing their own vocals. Together, the two rose to fame as Marxist Brothers, a name that sums up Chimbetu's ideological orientation at the time. After recording several albums together, the two split in 1988 with Simon forming his own band, The Orchestra Dendera Kings while Naison formed his Gee(Great) 7 Commandos. It was after splitting with Naison that Simon recorded the all-time hit, Nguva Yakaoma(Hard Times).
The album carried hits such as Spare Wheel, the soulful Samatenga, Pasi Rapinduka, among others. Samatenga stayed at the number one spot for a long time. The song Samatenga was somewhat prophetic in that the suffering it describes was mirrored in Simon's own life soon after when he was arrested for theft/receiving stolen property. Although he pleaded his innocence, he was found guilty and incarcerated at Khami Prison in Bulawayo.
Out Of the two brothers, Chimbetu evidently had the greater talent and share of the market and enjoyed success upon success. This was interrupted by his 4-year imprisonment from 1989 after being convicted of receiving stolen property (a car). He was released in 1994 and immediately shot to the top with Pachipamwe (Welcome Back). The song Saina, off Pachipamwe, was favourite of many at weddings and social gatherings. Many say his best ever albums are 1997's Survival and 1998's Lullaby which are highly critical of the Mugabe regime. One of Chimbetu's distinct success was being able to reclaim his top spot even after being jailed for such a long time. While in prison, another musician, Leonard Zhakata had wooed many fans with his similarly styled beat and well thought out lyrics. There is little doubt that Chimbetu outshone Zhakata when he re-entered the Zimbabwean musical jungle. After this purple patch, Simon's career plummeted after he became more directly linked to the ruling ZANU-PF party.
Controversy and Decline 
Chimbetu wasn't far from controversy during his career. At the peak of his popularity, he spent four years in jail and thereafter, rumours hit in 2002 that he hadn't paid his farm workers for months. Additionally, his pro-government stance contributed to the his somewhat rising unpopularity. As the economic situation in Zimbabwe worsened with the controversial land reform, musicians who were seen to side with the land reform and general ZANU-PF policies became unpopular.
His political rhetoric,with songs like Pane Asipo, especially on the highly political album, Hoko, was obviously out of tune with the masses. Some fans deserted him but many still liked his music. It is important to understand that although the land reform program was chaotic, many Zimbabweans acknowledged the need to repossess this valued resources of livelihood. Many Zimbabweans recognized the unfair balance of ownership of land that favoured white people. This majority group of adult Zimbabweans therefore partly appreciated the content of Chimbetu's political songs. In fact even before the controversial land reform programmer Chimbetu is known to have represented the people in highly political songs like "Zuva Raenda" from the extremely successful album "Survival". In "Zuva Raenda", (the sun is setting) Chimbetu laments the delay in redistributing the land to the black masses. Many Zimbabweans positively identified with these songs.
Chimbetu died on 14 August 2005, following injuries sustained in a car accident. Curiously, at the time of his death, his career appeared to be on the mend with the release of 10 Million Pounds Reward. On this album, he sings about many issues, one of which is the unequal resource distribution in Zimbabwe on the Chewa song, Governor Cornwell. The album as a whole is, in fact, a sterling effort that could have catapulted Chimbetu to his former dizzy heights in a different socio-political and economic environment. Chimbetu himself was of Chewa origin although he was born and raised in Zimbabwe. When he was declared a provincial hero, his actual burial was kept a secret in line with his religious burial traditions. Soon after, his father Benson and Naison himself, also passed on.
A younger brother who was already part of the Orchestra Dendera Kings, Allan, fronts the band today. He has recorded a well-received album entitled Sonny. He has toured his brother's old haunt of London at least once and seems to be headed for greater things.
Many Zimbabweans remember Simon as a polite,well spoken guy who always freely discussed simple issues of life with common people. Though somewhat unlucky in his personal life(his wife ditched him while in jail), Simon was well liked by those who knew him, and they were many. Many called him by his many stage names, among them "Mr Viscose"(before imprisonment), "Cellular", "Simomo" or simply "Mukoma Sam" Most called him "Chopper", the nom de guere he took when he joined the liberation war.
Music Rivalries 
The Marxist Brothers 
- Mwana Wedangwe (1983)
- Kunjere Kunjere (1985)
- Dendera Resango (1985)
- Sarura Yako (1987)
- Kuipa Chete (1988)
- Marxist Brothers (1989)
- Boterekwa (1989)
- Greatest Hits of Early Music
Simon Chimbetu & Orchestra Dendera Kings 
- Nguva Yakaoma (1990)
- Ndouraiwa (1992)
- Karikoga (1993)
- Pachipamwe (1994)
- Survival (1997)
- Zuva Raenda (1997)
- Lullaby (1998)
- African Panorama - Chapter One (1999)
- 2000 Blend (2000)
- African Panorama - Chapter Two (2001)
- Takabatana (2001)
- Hoko (2002)
- 10 Million Pounds Reward (2005)
- Ncube, Sarah (2 October 2009). "Chimbetu’s Ghost Comes Alive". Zimbabwe Telegraph. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
simply the best