Universal Music Group South Africa mourns with South Africa and the world, at the passing of Jonathan ‘Johnny’ Clegg, OBE OIS. He passed on at his family home in Johannesburg on the afternoon of 16th of July 2019, after a struggle with pancreatic cancer. He was sixty-six (66).
Johnny is most widely known for bringing together the music of Zulu migrant workers, maskandi, with western sounds – resulting in a fusion, crossover sound that won the hearts of many people world over. His deep connection with maskandi opened doors for him to collaborate with black musicians during apartheid South Africa, and this led to his numerous arrests by the apartheid government. He and his band members and collaborators were constantly harassed and thrown in jail for working together, and for South Africa, his commitment to music was an incredible lesson of the centrality of humanity. From his interracial collaborations that formed the acts Juluka, and Savuka, his thriving solo career spanning decades, and to his career as an academic and author, Johnny connected cultures, generations and worlds in a very special way.
At his death, Johnny had a number of honorary doctorates in South Africa and USA, and had been bestowed honours such as the Order of Ikhamanga, the UK’s Order of the British Empire, France’s Knights of Arts and Letter.
Johnny is survived by his wife of thirty-one (31) years, Jenny and their two sons Jesse and Jaron.