'We can't allow Clegg to retire'

Johnny Clegg at his last performance, held at the Ticketpro Dome in Johannesburg.
Johnny Clegg at his last performance, held at the Ticketpro Dome in Johannesburg.
Image: TARRYNE RAUTENBACH

Legendary musician Johnny Clegg, who has called it a day as a performer, is being hailed as a music genius by fellow musicians.

Clegg said adieu to his fans on Saturday night when he performed at the Ticketpro Dome in Northgate, Johannesburg, as part of the Final Journey World Tour.

He shared the stage with Prime Circle, DJ Kent, Parlotones, The Soweto Gospel Choir, Jesse Clegg and Sipho Mchunu, among others.

Clegg has proved that he is admired not only by fans, but also by people who have been with him on his long musical journey.

Despite Clegg announcing his retirement, his back-up singer and friend Mandisa Dlanga finds it hard to accept Clegg's leaving.

Dlanga has been backing Clegg since 1987.

She said she got home around 3am yesterday following a great performance.

"I don't think this is the last performance from him - as much as I am aware that he is no longer young and has health issues," she said.

"The reason I don't believe that [he is retiring] is because Johnny is still popular.

"We just returned from a North American tour and people are crazy about his music."

Dlanga believes people love the music of the crossover artist because it has so much meaning.

"Johnny's music tells a story and it is full of strong messages. People love his music because he is genuine in what he does.

"He was not following all these trends. He found his style and stuck to it."

She added that over the years their working relationship grew and developed and they become as close as a brother and sister.

Clegg's musical director, Andy Innes, who has been working with him for 26 years, defined the legend as an ethical person with a huge heart.

He said Clegg had a unique individual creativity and a drive to make everything a success.

"For me he is a South African icon. He was able to merge different cultures in his music. Most importantly, he is genuine and not attempting to be somebody else," Innes said.

He defined the Saturday performance in front of over 10000 fans as magical.

He said it was "not the best ever performance, but in terms of atmosphere it was magical. The crowd was amazing."

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