Johnny and Jesse Clegg joined harmonies on a track that might be the best thing you hear today.
Johannesburg, South Africa – Johnny Clegg, a true South African legend who has made and continues to make an indelible mark on music history has been honoured in a song written by his son, which they performed together.
Johnny was born in the UK but was raised in South Africa. He took an interest in African culture and started playing Zulu street music and performing in traditional Zulu dance competitions at a young age. He was arrested at the age of 15 for violating apartheid-era laws in South Africa and started his first band at age 17 with Sipho Mchunu. Over the years he has spoken out against inequality and human rights violations. He has received some of the most prestigious awards including the South African Presidential Ikhamanga award as part of the National Orders ceremony. This award is the highest honour a citizen can receive in South Africa.
His career has spanned decades, and he has a place in the hearts of many South Africans and global citizens. Those hearts broke when Johnny Clegg announced that he was battling cancer.
He was diagnosed in 2015, but his illness didn’t force him off the stage, though. In 2017, with his cancer in remission, he launched a final tour and performed in South Africa and at international venues
It was on this tour, in the final leg, that Jesse announced that he had written a song for his dad.
“In 1990, I wrote ‘Cruel Crazy Beautiful World’ for my son Jesse Clegg who was two years old at the time. Twenty-seven years later, in 2017, Jesse was the executive producer on my newest album “KING OF TIME.”
Towards the end of the recordings, Jesse came to me and said, “Dad, I wrote a song for you.”
The song turned into a duo, and it might be the best thing you will hear all day.
Johnny said in an interview in January 2019 that he is an “outlier” who has survived pancreatic cancer for the last few years, but he is preparing for hard times ahead.
“On the 9th of April 2015, I was diagnosed with stage 2 pancreatic cancer. Two days later I had a 7 hour Whipple operation removing half my pancreas, my gallbladder, bile duct, duodenum and half my stomach. Six weeks later I went onto a six months chemotherapy regimen (Gemcitabine), and at the end of November 2015, I was pronounced in remission.”
Sadly a few months later, Johnny’s cancer reappeared, and he spent another six months fighting it.
“In 2016 I continued with my career but in August cancer reappeared and I went into another six months of chemo (Folfirinox), and in February 2017, I was again pronounced in remission.”
With his health and life quality coming into question, Johnny decided it was time to step out of the spotlight to focus on family. But loving his fans, he decided to do one last world tour to say goodbye.
“It was decided to do a worldwide Final Journey tour to say farewell to my public supporters while I was still strong and able to perform both mentally and physically.
I started in South Africa, then London and Dubai but unfortunately, after the USA and Canadian leg in October 2017, cancer re-emerged again with a very high tumour count as well as lesions in my lungs. This moved my level from stage 2 to stage 4.
I had to undergo tests and go back on chemo (Abraxane and Gemcitabine).”
Johnny had to pause the tour to focus on getting healthy again.
“The world tour had to be postponed which included France, Switzerland, Australia, Zimbabwe, and Mauritius amongst other places where promoters were interested in staging the Final Journey show.”
In August 2018 Johnny stepped back to do Chemo once more. He shared an update regarding his current health and that he will most likely have to start radiation.
“Three weeks ago my third 6-month chemo cycle finished. One small lesion in the right upper lung is still slightly active, and it will probably have to be removed by radiation treatment. I expect this to be an ongoing challenge.
It has been an incredible journey with incalculable support from my wife Jenny and my sons Jesse and Jaron, as well as extended family, management, friends, musicians, colleagues, oncologists and fans.”
Fans continue to flood his social media with posts of well wishes and thanks for the gift of music he gave the world.
We too would like to wish Johnny well and thank him for the beauty he creates in his music.