Johnny Clegg


Johnny Clegg was a UK-born musician and anthropologist from South Africa.

Born on 7 June 1953, Clegg died at his Johannesburg home on 16 July 2019 after battling pancreatic cancer.

Clegg’s infectious and novel crossover music merging western pop/rock with African Zulu rhythms and structures makes him one of SA’s most celebrated artists and greatest exports. The musician and anthropologist first rose to prominence when he formed Juluka with Sipho Mchunu. Drawing heavily on traditional Zulu music, the band released a string of popular albums like 'Universal Men' (1979), 'African Litany' (1981) and 'Scatterlings' (1982) and 'Work For All' (1983). Juluka split up in 1985.

Clegg formed another crossover band, Savuka (meaning “we have risen”), employing a broader African and international sound. Savuka found a huge degree of international success both at home and abroad. Savuka’s first album, 'Third World Child' (1987) broke international sales records in France, Switzerland and Belgium in 1988, with ‘Scatterlings of Africa’ charting again in the UK in May 1987. The album was followed in 1988 by Shadow Man, which sold over a million copies in Europe, charting in Switzerland and the US. Clegg’s popularity in France was such that Michael Jackson was famously forced to cancel a concert in Lyons in 1988 after being outsold by Savuka. The band’s third album, 'Cruel Crazy Beautiful' World (1989) charted in the US, Switzerland and Sweden. Later albums include 'Heat, Dust & Dreams' (1993) and 'In My African Dream' (1994).

More recently Johnny has released solo albums like 'New World Survivor' (2002), 'One Life' (2006) and 'Human' (2010). His songs have appeared in numerous films, most notably the Oscar-winning 'Rain Man' (1988). Clegg continues to tour the world, including several successful tours of Europe, North America and Australasia. His contribution to South African culture has seen him receive countless honours, including three honorary doctorates, a Grammy nomination (1993), a Billboard Music Award (1994) and a Kora award (1998). In France he was received several medals of honour as well as music industry awards. In 2010 he and Mchunu received Lifetime Achievement Awards at the Samas.

Picture source: David Durbach


Track artwork
Johnny Clegg (With Nelson Mandela) - Asimbonanga - 1999 Fran
Track artwork
Great Heart (Johnny Clegg)


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Profile added by DJ Okapi on 28 May 2014