Obituary: South African music legend Johnny Clegg dies at 66


Legendary South African musician Johnny Clegg, on Tuesday died at age 66, after struggling with pancreatic cancer, his record label reported.

“It is with immense sadness that we confirm that Jonathan (Johnny) Clegg, succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 66 at his family home in Johannesburg, South Africa,’’ Real Concerts said on Twitter.

Clegg’s long-time manager Roddy Quinn said in a statement “Johnny leaves deep footprints in the hearts of every person that considers him/herself to be an African.

“With his unique style of music he traversed cultural barriers like few others. In many of us he awakened awareness.’’ Quinn said.

A prolific singer, songwriter, dancer and musical activist, Clegg’s infectious music – a vibrant blend of Western pop and African Zulu rhythms, received international recognition.

Clegg, who was very outspoken about apartheid in the 1980s, sold more than five million albums over three decades.

He enjoyed a massive following worldwide, especially in France, where he was fondly known as “the white Zulu.’’

Clegg, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2015, has toured the U.S., Canada and Europe several times throughout his career.

A special moment in Clegg’s career was when anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela spontaneously joined Clegg on stage during a performance of “Asimbonanga,’’ a song written about Mandela while he was jailed on Robben Island.

His song “Scatterlings of Africa’’ made it into the British charts in the 1980s and was featured on the soundtrack to the 1988 Oscar-winning film “Rain Man.’’

Other well-known Clegg hits include Impi, Great Heart and African Sky Blue.


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