Johnny Clegg, who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2015, died at his family home in Johannesburg…
He achieved fame with bands Juluka and Savuka and songs like Scatterlings of Africa and Great Heart made him a global star.
A statement released by Roddy Quin, manager, friend and family spokesman, said: “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.
“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.”
Clegg was born on 7 June 1953 in Bacup, Lancashire, England and moved to Johannesburg with his Rhodesian mother when he was six.
“His exposure to Zulu migrant workers during adolescence introduced him to the culture and music,” Quin said. “His involvement with black musicians often led to him being arrested during Apartheid.”
At the age of 17, together with Sipho Mchunu, he formed their first band called Juluka. And 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.
“Johnny was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2015 but despite fighting cancer continued to tour and perform around the world to pay homage to his fans worldwide,” Quin added.
Apart from lecturing at the Universities of the Witwatersrand and Natal respectively, Clegg studied anthropology and combined his studies with music.
He was recognised and 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 by the Universities of the Witwatersrand (South Africa), KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa), Dartmouth College in the USA and the City University of New York.
He authored and published the book UkuBuyisa Isidumbu (1981, Ravan Press), 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.
“His passing has left us numb and we request that the family’s privacy be respected during this trying time,” Quin said.
Clegg is survived by his wife of 31 years, Jenny, and their two sons Jesse and Jaron.
Quin said the family will be holding a private funeral service although there will be a service for public to pay their respects. Details of the latter will be announced in due course.
27 years ago I wrote a song for my son @Jesse_Clegg in 2017, he came to me and said, “Dad, I wrote a song for you.” The song turned into a duo. Here is the video for “I’VE BEEN LOOKING.” Watch the video & listen to the album here: https://t.co/CRAvcjhLHs pic.twitter.com/k1IlhKAXtW
— Johnny Clegg (@JohnnyCleggReal) November 1, 2018
— Prof Thuli Madonsela (@ThuliMadonsela3) July 16, 2019
Condolences to Family and Friends of
Johnny Clegg -one of South Africa’s most celebrated sons. He was a singer, a songwriter, a dancer, anthropologist whose infectious crossover music exploded onto the international scene and contributed towards social cohesion #RIPJohnnyClegg pic.twitter.com/NpyQeZ2E4X
— South African Government (@GovernmentZA) July 16, 2019
Oh the sea is cold and the sky is grey
Look across the island into the bay
We are all islands till comes the day
We cross the burning water
— Eusebius McKaiser (@Eusebius) July 16, 2019
Johnny Clegg didn’t just touch South Africa with his music but the whole of Africa. His music gave u that pride of being an African. The great Lion has fallen indeed😢😭😢#RIPJohnnyClegg pic.twitter.com/TmRUiNCJL6
— Happiness dube (@Luvbird4eva) July 17, 2019
What a Blow! Johnny Clegg “umZulu omhlope” has passed away! To call you just a musician would be to fail you. You embraced maskandi music & Zulu culture like it was your very own, at a time when it was unpopular! Thank you for the Music. Rest In Peace.. 💔💔! #RIPJohnnyClegg pic.twitter.com/C4LkJoSz1K
— Khanyi Magubane (@Khanyi_Magubane) July 16, 2019
Thank you for what you have done for our beautiful country🇿🇦🇿🇦🇿🇦 “impi” yakho is over, Rest In Peace legend✊🏽your music started the healing process🙏🏽one of my first heroes 🇿🇦#RIPJohnnyClegg pic.twitter.com/P6NuE7xLvd
— S.G.A.S.H (@sgashmusic) July 16, 2019
— Arno Carstens (@ArnoCarstens) July 16, 2019
Name a more iconic duo, ill wait….
Rest in Power Johnny Clegg pic.twitter.com/k9BjVeG9GI
— Ryan Cummings (@Pol_Sec_Analyst) July 16, 2019
RIP to a true South African musical icon, Johnny Clegg 💔
May his legacy live on through his incredible music ✊ pic.twitter.com/V288lFSR5D
— 5FM (@5FM) July 16, 2019
A towering giant has fallen with the passing of legendary Singer-songwriter & Anthropologist Johnny Clegg. Our hearts are sore & as he famously sang in Asimbonanga “oh the sea is cold & the sky is grey” as we contend with the loss of a torchbearer of our struggle for freedom. pic.twitter.com/35RGuWGn02
— Min. Nathi Mthethwa (@NathiMthethwaSA) July 16, 2019
Saddened by news of the passing away of Johnny Clegg- he was a pioneer of the changing South Africa, an absolute legend and undoubtedly one of South Africa’s Champion People @ChampionSAfrica #RIPJohnnyClegg pic.twitter.com/yAcw4uT0qr
— Ashraf Garda (@AshrafGarda) July 16, 2019