Lionel Petersen was born and bred in Alexandra Township. He used to front a very dynamic band called Thunderballs. Later he moved to Capetown where he had a stint with The Rockets. He also worked with the Invaders. Some of his early hits were Private Number, I Need A Little Love and his cover version of Joe Tex’s That’s The Way (Plum Records, 1976), later also translated by Mpharanyana into Sesotho as Ke Yona Tsela. When he returned to Johannesburg he joined Harari to take the place of the lead vocalist Masike Mohapi. From Harari he moved back into his solo career. In 1986 he released Feel Free, an album produced by Selwyn Shandel
and backed by the Winners on the CCP label. The title track and Wedding Day, which featured Imilonji Kantu Choral Society set the album on fire. another hit by this star was Iphelil’ipetrole. One of his most successful projects was the recording of Kaiser Chiefs’ We Are Number One backed by his multi-racial band, the Winners. This Selwyn Shandel product was written by Russell Kramer of the Bushman fame. The CCP production team went to Ellis
Park during a Chiefs vs Pirates match to record the electrifying atmosphere including the crowd eruption when Chiefs’ ace striker Samora Khulu hit the back of the net. By 1985 Lionel had become a born-again christian and decided to use his talents to glorify the Lord.