JOHANNESBURG – South African singer Johnny Clegg died on Tuesday at the age of 66.
Clegg was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2015.
He had launched a series of farewell tours in 2018, appearing on stage with a variety of artists, including his son Jessie Clegg.
Family spokesperson Roddy Quinn shared the news in a statement on Tuesday night.
“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.”
Clegg was survived by his wife of 31 years, Jenny, and their sons Jesse and Jaron.
“His passing has left us numb and we request that the family’s privacy be respected during this trying time. The family will be holding a private funeral service and we ask you to please respect the families wishes. There will be a service for the public to pay their respects and the details hereof will be announced in due course,” Quinn said.
EARLY LIFE AND CAREER
Clegg was born on 7 June 1953 in Bacup, Lancashire, in England and moved to Johannesburg, South Africa, with his Rhodesian mother when he was six years old.
His exposure to Zulu migrant workers during adolescence introduced him to the culture and music. His involvement with black musicians often saw him arrested during apartheid. At the age of 17, together with Sipho Mchunu, he formed a band called Juluka. At the age of 33 in 1986, during the height of apartheid, he partnered with Dudu Zulu to form his second inter-racial band called Savuka.
Clegg also recorded several solo albums and enjoyed international success, selling out concerts wherever he performed.
Apart from lecturing at the universities of the Witwatersrand and Natal, Clegg studied anthropology and combined his studies with music.
He was awarded by a number of local and international bodies for his contribution to music and society notably by the French Government in 1991 with a Knight of Arts and Letters, and in 2015 he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. In 2012 he received the Order of Ikhamanga from the South African government. He was also awarded a number of honorary doctorates.
He authored and published the book UkuBuyisa Isidumbu and presented papers on The Music of Zulu Immigrant Workers in Johannesburg in 1981 at the Grahamstown International Library of African Music and Towards an understanding of African Dance: The Zulu Isishameni Style in 1982 at Rhodes University.