Bryan Adams
Duncan MacNeillie, director and producer of Jock of the Bushveld, with musician Bryan Adams, who provides the voice of Jock the dog in the animated 3D South African film.
(Image: Jock Animation)

Bryan Adams's gravel voice is adored by millions of rock fans – and movie lovers. He wrote and sang the main theme for Robin Hood; he wrote all the music for Dreamworks’s 2002 film Spirit: Stallion
of the Cimarron
, and now he’s not only the songwriter but also the voice of the eponymous dog in South Africa’s Jock of the Bushveld. His barks and howls, apparently, are great.

He’s written two songs for the multimillion-rand 3D film – which will have its international premiere in Joburg on July 19 – one of which, Way-oh, is the movie’s theme song.

It started in Johannesburg in 2010 when Duncan MacNeillie,
’s producer and director, approached Adams in his hotel, asking the Canadian rocker to collaborate on a song with Briton Tim Rice, the film’s lyricist. Instead, Adams submitted one of his own.

“About a month later, Duncan phoned and said, ‘How would you like to be the voice of the dog?’” Adams said from Dublin in late June.

Because of his schedule as an international musician, Adams doesn’t have a dog, but is a great dog lover.

“I have a bit of knowledge about terriers, having grown up with them, and you do get into their mindset. They like a bit of rough and tumble, they like food, they love love – and Jock is all of those things combined.”

MacNeillie was delighted with the result: “His howls and barks were great. He repeatedly said he wished he could have a dog, but his life involves too much travel.”

The recording took two days in all, but Adams has yet to see the finished result.

“When I attend the premiere in Joburg, it’ll be the first time I’m seeing the finished article. I don’t know whether the producers have kept it in improvisation or not in the finished version; I’ll see then.

“It’s a very nice story, the way the director and producer have done it will appeal to an enormous audience, it’s beautifully animated.”

Adams heads an international star cast, which includes Ted Danson as the voice of Jock’s best friend, Pezulu, Helen Hunt as Jess, Jock’s mom, and veteran actor Donald Sutherland as the narrator. Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has a cameo role.

Besides Adams’s two songs, there’s music by Johnny Clegg, Nianell, Watershed’s Craig Hinds and Marius Brouwer.

The Canadian rock star kept his own accent for this quintessential South African story, but he has plenty of links with southern Africa.

“I’ve toured South Africa six or seven times now. I’ve been to Cape Town and Joburg a lot, as well as Durban and Port Elizabeth. I have an uncle who lives in Durban and a cousin who farms in Zambia.”

Adams’s parents left Britain and emigrated to Canada. The rest of the family went to South Africa and the Far East. In fact, Adams had never read Jock of the Bushveld when he was asked to do the music.

“I didn’t know anything about this story and then upon researching it, I was fascinated by this snippet of South African history, and English history as well.

“When I found out it was an old book, and I called my mother, she said, ‘Yes, of course, I knew this from when I was a child.’”

Jock of the Bushveld will hit South African screens on July 29.

  • This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in Tonight. Read the original here.

Watch the trailer for Jock of the Bushveld: