Published: Wed, July 17, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

South African music legend Johnny Clegg dies at age 66

South African music legend Johnny Clegg dies at age 66

"It is with huge sadness that we confirm that Johnny Clegg. succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 66 on the afternoon of 16 July 2019 at his family home in Johannesburg", Quinn added in a statement.

Nicknamed the "White Zulu" for his fluency in one of South Africa's widely-spoken vernacular languages, Clegg received the Order of Ikhamanga as part of the national orders in 2012.

One of his best-known songs was "Asimbonanga", which means "We've never seen him" in Zulu. He was arrested at the age of 15 for violating apartheid-era laws in South Africa banning people of different races from congregating together after curfew hours.

Cape Town - As news broke of South African music icon Johnny Clegg's death, tributes poured in from political parties celebrating the singer's life.

"I stumbled on Zulu street guitar music being performed by Zulu migrant workers, traditional tribesmen from the rural areas", Clegg told NPR in 2017.

South Africa's government said in a statement that "his music had the ability to unite people across the races".

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Johnny Clegg has passed away. Mr. Clegg had paired Zulu rhythms and vocals with succinct pop melodies of social consciousness that echoed American and British folk music.

Clegg was born in England to an English father and Rhodesian (Zimbabwean) mother but moved to South Africa as a young child.

The 66-year-old musician was diagnosed with cancer in 2015 and told The Juice in 2017: "I'm dealing with another parallel world that I work in with my diagnosis".

Clegg combined his love for music with his interest in anthropology. He co-founded two interracial bands, including Juluka with Sipho Mchunu and Savuka with Dudu Zulu.

Clegg later recalled how he performed the song while on tour in Germany in 1997 and experienced a "huge shock" when Mandela, beaming and dancing, unexpectedly came out on stage behind him. "And at peace with myself", Mandela said to the audience.

"That was the pinnacle moment for me", Clegg recalled. "It was just a complete and awesome gift from the universe". He released 13 albums in his 40 years of music and dance.

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