South African music legend Johnny Clegg dies, aged 66

South African music legend Johnny Clegg dies, aged 66

South African music legend, Johnny Clegg has died.


The 66-year-old had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2015.

Clegg’s manager, friend and family spokesperson, Roddy Quin confirmed his passing in a statement earlier.

“It is with immense sadness that we confirm that Jonathan (Johnny) Clegg, OBE OIS, succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 66 on the afternoon of 16 July 2019 at his family home in Johannesburg, South Africa,” read the statement.

“Johnny leaves deep footprints in the hearts of every person that considers him/herself to be an African. He showed us what it was to assimilate to and embrace other cultures without losing your identity. An anthropologist that used his music to speak to every person. With his unique style of music he traversed cultural barriers like few others. In many of us he awakened awareness.”

He bowed out from the international stage with a global tour two years ago.

Clegg’s live performances were characterised by a blend of music and storytelling, in which he described the circumstances affecting his songs and the meaning behind the lyrics.

His music was anti-apartheid in its message and promoted multi-racialism.

Known as the ‘White Zulu’, Clegg’s upbeat performances were characterised by high tempo on stage dancing that incorporated Zulu dancing and lyrics.

While talking about his songs and career on stage, Clegg would often explain how he learnt about Zulu dance and music in Johannesburg’s migrant hostels.

Clegg received an Honourary Doctorate in Music from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in 2013.

Clegg is survived by his wife of 31 years, Jenny and their two sons Jesse and Jaron.

Quin said a private funeral will be held.

He says a public service will also be arranged so that South Africans can honour and respect the icon.

Details will be announced in due course.

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