Johnny Clegg, a South African singer, died at 66 on Tuesday.

In 2015, Clegg was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

In 2018, he initiated a series of farewell tours with a multitude of performers, including his son Jessie Clegg, appearing on stage.

Family spokeswoman Roddy Quinn shared Tuesday night’s news in a declaration.

“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.


Born on 7 June 1953 in Bacup, Lancashire, England, Clegg moved with his Rhodesian mom when he was six years old to Johannesburg, South Africa.

During his adolescence, his exposure to Zulu migrant workers brought him to the culture and music. He was often seen detained during apartheid by his participation with black musicians. He and Sipho Mchunu created a group called Juluka at the age of 17. He collaborated with Dudu Zulu at the age of 33 in 1986, at the height of apartheid, to create his second inter-racial group called Savuka.

Clegg recorded several solo albums as well and enjoyed international success, selling concerts wherever he was playing.

Clegg studied anthropology in addition to lecturing at the Witwatersrand and Natal universities and merged his studies with music.

A number of local and international bodies awarded him with a Knight of Arts and Letters in 1991 for his contribution to music and society, notably by the French Government, and in 2015 he became an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. He obtained the Ikhamanga Order from the government of South Africa in 2012. A number of honorary doctorates were also awarded to him.

He wrote and released the book UkuBuyisa Isidumbu and submitted articles on The Music of Zulu Immigrant Workers at the Grahamstown International Library of African Music and Towards an Understanding of African Dance: The Zulu Isishameni Style at Rhodes University in 1981.

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