News that the singer was ill came out this week and Wednesday morning, his family confirmed he had passed away. The singer had been fighting lung cancer and was being treated at a Nelspruit hospital.
Speaking to Eyewitness News, family spokesperson Paul Nkanyane says:
"He has been bad for the past few days. I spoke to him on Monday and he was struggling but unfortunately, there was nothing we could have done. The doctors say they tried all that they could to help him out."
Celebs have come out in droves to bid farewell and pay tribute to the icon:
A post shared by nandi_madida (@nandi_madida) on
When a great musician passes on, my first reaction is always to play the music ? that they left behind for us to remember them by. I want that for my music, when I die .... like the iconic Ray Phiri ?? I had the privilege of working with him on the ANC ? year celebration and spent a lot of time picking his brain and soaking up as much info as I could. Every time he had seen me since then (2012) he was always so keen to tell me how well I was doing. He was charismatic, colorful, funny, deep, intelligent and undoubtedly one of the greatest songwriters in the history of African Music ??? He was even sought out by Paul Simon to work on Graceland. REST IN PEACE "UNCLE RAY" PHIRI. Your music will live forever! ? ? LEVEL ?®
A post shared by AKA (@akaworldwide) on
?Ntate #RayPhiri graciously allowed me to remake 1 of his songs & we performed it together on numerous occasions. May his soul Rest In Peace and my condolences to his family & friends. ? A post shared by ProVerbMusic (@proverbmusic) on
A post shared by Mmabatho Montsho (@montshotheblack) on
Rest In Peace Legendary Man ???? It's crazy because in the past month all I've been playing is #Stimela #LuckyDube #Sankomota & #JabuKhanyile #NanaCoyote . I went back & played a lot of your music this month. I was on @kayafm95dot9 with @tboseza recently & we played one of your songs. Your story lives. I was too young when I listened to you as a kid through my uncles. But I get it now. 34 years later & your music still heals. We even played your album as pre-movie music at the @kasimovienights #Kalushi #TheHangMan #KeysOfLife screenings 2 weekends ago. You were truly one of my ultimate Favourite Global African Musicians. Lala kahle Soldier. You Music Lives On #WhispersIntheDeep #Zwakala #WhereDidWeGoWrong #LoveYou #MesaureofaMan #RIP #GoWell #TaRayRay #RAYPHIRI ????? A post shared by Thapelo Mokoena (@mokoenalive) on
I was such a fan when I asked the legendary Ray Phiri if I could take this photo. I was standing next to a giant who's influence on SA music and far beyond our borders cannot be quantified. Over the years when we spoke he always spoke as a mentor who deeply cared about he future of SA music. He also made it clear that he felt he was exploited both in SA and abroad. I have great regret that we could not create a song together. We were so close to doing it, closer than you realize ?? #riprayphiri one of the greatest SA musicians and artists ever ??#rayphiri
A post shared by RJ Benjamin (@rjbenjamin) on
A post shared by The Soil (@thesoilmusic) on
Forever a legend RIP baba Ray Phiri I'm honored to have met u and chat to u ??#RipRayPhiri A post shared by Lvovo Derrango (@lvovosa) on