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Hugh Masekela, South African jazz legend dead at 78

By Wade Sheridan
Hugh Masekela, South African jazz legend dead at 78
Hugh Masekela, a South African trumpeter who recorded more than 40 albums, has died at the age of 78. Photo courtesy of Daniel Reinhardt/EPA

Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Hugh Masekela, a legendary trumpeter who was known as the father of South African jazz, has died at the age of 78.

Masekela's family confirmed his death on the musician's official Twitter account Tuesday alongside a statement.

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"It is with profound sorrow that the family of Ramapolo Hugh Masekela announce his passing. After a protracted and courageous battle with prostate cancer, he passed peacefully in Johannesburg, South Africa, surrounded by his family," the statement said.

"A loving father, brother, grandfather and friend, our hearts beat with profound loss. Hugh's global and activist contribution to and participation in the areas of music, theatre, and the arts in general is contained in the minds and memory of millions across six continents and we are blessed and grateful to be part of a life and ever-expanding legacy of love, sharing and vanguard creativity that spans the time and space of six decades," it continued.

Masekela, who released more than 40 solo albums throughout his career, is known for working with legends Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis and performing alongside Janis Joplin, Otis Redding and Jimi Hendrix in the 1960s.

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Masekela toured with Paul Simon in the 1980s and released anti-apartheid anthems such as "Soweto Blues" in 1977 and "Bring Him Back Home (Nelson Mandela)" in 1987. He returned home to South Africa following Mandela's release.

The trumpeter also performed at the opening ceremony of the 2010 World Cup in Johannesburg.

"It is an immeasurable loss to the music industry and to the country at large. His contribution to the struggle for liberation will never be forgotten," South African President Jacob Zuma said in a statement.

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