The SABC on Wednesday morning reported that South African jazz legend, Ray Phiri had died. The 70-year-old musician suffered from lung cancer and had recently been admitted to a hospital in Nelspruit.
In an interview with The Sowetan earlier this month Phiri asked for space and privacy during his sickbed. He told the newspaper: “Let me suffer [in peace with my] pain, on my own with my dignity.”
Phiri – a jazz, fusion and mbaqanga musician – was born on 23 March 1947 near Nelspruit, Mpumalanga. He was a founding member of the Cannibals in the 1970s. Later, the Cannibals grew in size and renamed themselves, becoming the hugely influential Afro-fusion band Stimela.
Phiri was scheduled to perform at Rocking the Daisies music festival later this year.
“Music is spiritual. It provides healing and reflection, and it should add value. Emotion should shine through, and a healthy respect for the audience is required,” Phiri told City Press in a recent interview.
Watch Ray Phiri and Stimela’s video ‘Zwakala’
Phiri’s wife Daphney died in a car accident on an isolated Mpumalanga road in 2003 when the couple’s car overturned. Phiri suffered serious neck injuries in the crash.
The accident was not the couple’s first. Daphney was hospitalised in 2002 when the family’s Volvo collided with another car in Nelspruit. Phiri was also badly injured in 1987 in a crash that claimed the lives of his band manager and six others. The accident so traumatised Phiri that he only re-emerged from musical “exile” 11 years later, City Press reported.