THE LEGEND FALLS SILENT
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