White father of African rock marks anniversary

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Outside of South Africa, the music became an instant hit, and the band toured extensively through North America and Europe during the height of racial tensions in South Africa.

Clegg’s African rock stemmed from his childhood when he noticed how a street musician had “Africanized” a guitar, a European instrument: He was immediately hooked. As a student he began to experiment with the cross of English words and Zulu rhythms.

“Everybody thought it was absolutely ridiculous in the beginning, apart from migrants and students who thought it was really weird, but because it was weird it was cool,” he said.

Clegg was born in England and lived in Israel, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Zambia during his childhood, attending six primary schools in five years. He called himself a loner.

“I felt like a migrant,” he said. “So when I met migrant workers _ Zulu migrant workers _ there was something about them that I intuitively connected with because they were also establishing these tenuous connections with different places.”

Clegg spent years in Zulu communities, learning the culture, dance and language.

“Nobody moves like me because I’m coded and wired with that tradition, and that was something which a lot of people found quite fascinating,” he said.

In his life and career, he has answered a question he poses in the lyrics to Asimbonanga: “Who has the words to close the distance between you and me?”

“I discovered that through music, I could connect very deeply and profoundly in a continuous way,” Clegg said. “And that for me was kind of a salvation.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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