Home / BBC News / Ray Phiri: South Africa’s Graceland star dies

Ray Phiri: South Africa’s Graceland star dies

Ray Phiri performs on stage with his guitarImage copyright Gallo Images
Image caption Before his death, the musician appealed to the media to respect his privacy

South African jazz legend Ray Phiri has died at the age of 70 after a two-month battle with lung cancer.

The guitarist, producer and vocalist rose to fame when he featured on Paul Simon’s Graceland album in 1986.

He was admitted to hospital two weeks ago and died in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Family spokesperson Paul Nkanyane says he was surrounded by friends and relatives at the clinic, in the north-eastern city of Nelspruit.

Africa Live: Updates on this and other stories

Mr Phiri’s condition became public this week when a friend and fellow musician started a crowdfunding initiative to help pay for his medical bills.

In an interview with The Sowetan newspaper earlier this month, Phiri said: “Let me suffer [in peace with my] pain, on my own with my dignity.”

Tributes have been pouring in for Phiri on Twitter, with people using the hashtag #RIPRayPhiri:

Image copyright Twitter

Before reaching international fame with Graceland, Phiri was already an established musician in South Africa and lead singer of 1970s band Stimela.

The group’s afro-fusion sounds combined jazz with mbaqanga – a Zulu musical style with rural roots.

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