'Graceland' Guitarist Who Worked with Paul Simon Dies After Battle with Cancer

July 13, 2017Jul 13, 2017

Ray Phiri, a musician who made a name for himself worldwide, passed away on the morning of July 11th, 2017. He died in the hospital at age 70 after battling lung cancer for nearly two months, according to BBC News.

He was most well-known for his music in South Africa, but he became famous across the globe after his feature on Paul Simon’s album, ‘Graceland’. On the album, he played the guitar for several songs and even joined Simon on tour.

Phiri was considered a ‘musical legend’ to many fans and those involved in the music industry, especially in South Africa. ANC, ruling political party of South Africa, released a statement after his death, calling him the 'voice for the voiceless and legend of our time'. Paul Simon also released a heartwarming statement.


"I was informed today by a friend in South Africa that Ray Phiri had passed away. He was a beautiful, masterful guitarist and an inventive musician. He will be remembered as a patriot who used his music to fight apartheid and brought that message to the world. His contribution to 'Graceland' was immense and I am grateful and honored to have worked with him."

He loved music so much and put his heart into everything he contributed to. NPR states he once said, "Here I was, living in South Africa," Phiri said, "and then here comes a particular individual called Paul Simon. For me, music is the closest thing to religion. And if it's utilized in the right way, it can inform and bring people closer, and they can find solutions to their problems. And Graceland did that."

Many fans expressed their condolences on social media. One even said, “this is far more difficult than it was hearing Michael Jackson is no more.”



Watch Ray Phiri perform with Paul Simon in the video below. Please join us in prayer for Phiri’s friends, family and loved ones during this difficult time. See more Ray Phiri videos here. Thank you!