Ray Phiri pho­tographed when he vis­ited The Star in Joburg last year. News of the leg­endary mu­si­cian’s death has sent shock waves through­out the na­tion. He achieved na­tional and in­ter­na­tional ac­claim.

WHEN jazz icon Sipho “Hot­stix” Mabuse learnt of his “brother” Ray Phiri’s death, he nearly col­lapsed from shock.

“You know in life, there are peo­ple you al­ways want to hold on to be­cause you know the kind of con­tri­bu­tion they make to so­ci­ety.

“Ray was one of those peo­ple. The whole mu­sic in­dus­try is much poorer with­out Ray Phiri be­cause he was not just a voice. He was also a voice in the po­lit­i­cal nar­ra­tive that af­fects mu­si­cians as a whole,” Mabuse said.

“When I re­ceived the news, I nearly col­lapsed. We were just talk­ing about him yes­ter­day (Tues­day). We were plan­ning to visit him. This is the big­gest shock. The whole na­tion is in mourn­ing. In six weeks, we have lost some of our great mu­si­cians and artists in this coun­try.

“This week, we were bury­ing one of our own, Johnny Mekoa. And my­self, Ringo (Madlin­gozi) and Bra Hugh (Masekela) were talk­ing about Ray, only to find out that that was our last con­ver­sa­tion about him when he was alive,” said Mabuse.

“You can imag­ine, the mu­sic in­dus­try with­out that voice.”

Arts and Cul­ture Min­is­ter Nathi Mthethwa said: “It is with sor­row and shock that we learnt of the pass­ing of this great mu­si­cian and inim­itable artist.

“He dearly loved his fam­ily and was a dot­ing fa­ther. We thank his fam­ily for al­low­ing him to spend the best part of his life on the mu­si­cal stage and shar­ing his songs with us.

“We will al­ways re­mem­ber hit songs like Peo­ple Don’t Talk, So Let’s Talk, Whis­pers in the Deep and Zwakala.

“Ray Phiri and his con­tem­po­raries urged us on in the dark­est days and fired the last salvoes at apartheid. This is what gave this mu­sic an edge, which it main­tains to this day, as it still holds sways among many mu­sic lovers. They were bright, de­fi­ant, quick-think­ing, streetwise and ur­bane. Such was the mu­sic of Ray Phiri,” said Mthethwa.

Mean­while on Twit­ter, trib­utes poured in.

@Karabo_Mok­goko tweeted: Sad day for SA: Leg­endary South African jazz mu­si­cian Ray Phiri passed away af­ter suf­fer­ing from lung can­cer. #RIP Ray Phiri.

@CassperNy­ovest: RIP to the leg­end. Thank you for the mu­sic. Mr Ray Phiri.

@EFFSouthAfrica: May his soul rest in per­fect rev­o­lu­tion­ary peace. Ray Phiri.

@Map­sMaponyane: Rest In Peace to one of South Africa’s mu­si­cal greats, Ntate Ray Phiri. Your mu­sic will live on for­ever.

@Se­laelo_Selota: At the record­ing of “The Un­fin­ished Story” in 1987, a group of stu­dents sang on the record­ing... RIP Ray Phiri!

@ClaysonMonyela: Rest in power Bra Ray Phiri. Thank you for the mu­sic and the mem­o­ries. The King is gone. Long live the King! #RIPRayPhiri. – Ad­di­tional re­port­ing by Staff Re­porter

FAREWELL: Mu­si­cian Ray Phiri un­veils a rhino statue at the King Shaka Air­port in 2012. Trib­utes con­tin­ued to pour in yes­ter­day for the South African leg­end. PIC­TURE: GCINA NDWALANE

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