'Graceland' Guitarist And Arranger Ray Phiri Dies, Age 70


He died early this morning in a hospital in the city of Nelspruit.

Family spokesperson Paul Nkanyane told TshisaLIVE that the family was devastated."We are devastated and, naturally, asked why this has happened".

The guitarist nicknamed "Just Now" was the founding member of the Cannibals in the 1970s.

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

President Jacob Zuma said in a statement that Phiri was a musical giant. "This is a awful loss for South Africa in particular and the music industry in general", responded the president, Jacob Zuma, in a press release.

"The whole nation is with his family in thoughts during these hard times".

Phiri helped bring a unique South African sound to Paul Simon's Graceland. Through Whispers in the Deep, amongst his many works, Phiri, his band Stimela and his friends, Nana Coyote, amongst others, taught us to forever remain inspired and never understand hate.

Although Graceland became famous around the world, it was an endeavor that came under heavy criticism at the time of its release, both in South Africa and internationally. Stimela combined jazz with mbaqanga, which is a rhythm heavy style of music.

The crash left Phiri in a critical condition but his daughter, Linhle, survived the accident unscathed.

In November 2003 Phiri survived a tragic auto accident that claimed the life of his wife, Daphney.