S.African music legend Johnny Clegg dies

Johnny Clegg's vibrant blend of Western pop and African Zulu rhythms received international acclaim.
Johnny Clegg's vibrant blend of Western pop and African Zulu rhythms received international acclaim.

Legendary South African musician Johnny Clegg has died at age 66 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Clegg's record label confirmed the musician's death on Tuesday.

"It is with immense sadness that we confirm that Jonathan (Johnny) Clegg ... succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 66 on the afternoon of 16 July 2019 at his family home in Johannesburg, South Africa," Real Concerts said on Twitter.

Clegg's longtime manager Roddy Quinn said Clegg's unique style traversed cultural barriers and awakened awareness in many.

"Johnny leaves deep footprints in the hearts of every person that considers him/herself to be an African," Quinn said in a statement cited by various local media.

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 spoke out against apartheid in the 1980s, sold more than five million albums over three decades and enjoyed a massive following worldwide, especially in France, where he was fondly known as "the white Zulu".

Clegg toured the US, Canada and Europe several times throughout his career.

He was diagnosed with cancer in 2015.

A special moment in the musician'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.

Australian Associated Press