Legendary musician and global icon Oliver Mtukudzi has died at the age of 66 at Harare’s Avenues Clinic.
Mtukudzi, who has 66 albums to his name, had battled a significant health episode for over a month, celebrating Christmas confined at his Norton home where he was bedridden.
Sources close to the family say Mtukudzi died from complications related to his long battle with diabetes related complications which plagued the later years of his music career.
“He was a diabetic and was struggling with illness for quite a while and it is unfortunate that he did not recover from his latest health challenges,” said a family source that requested anonymity as they had not been authorised to speak to the Press.
As news filtered through, local and international media gathered outside Avenues Clinic in whose Intensive Care unit Mtukudzi is believed to have passed.
A big voice and broken heart
An icon whose distinct gravelly voice was the hallmark of his sound, Mtukudzi cut a plagued and conflicted figure following the death of his son and talented protégé Sam Mtukudzi close to a decade ago.
Close family says Mtukudzi was never to fully recover from Sam’s death in a tragic road accident along the Harare-Norton Highway.
Tuku, as the musician was known to fans that cut across generations, brought music to daily life with social commentary that sometimes became very personal, as with the _Daisy_ ballad which he penned for his wife who remains behind Daisy Mtukudzi.
In a tribute to Oliver Mtukudzi in the book _Oliver: Living Tuku Music in Zimbabwe_ by Jennifer Kyker, singer and close friend Bonnie Raitt described him as “a big voice (whose) heartfelt songs make him a legend of Afropop.”
Amongst just a handful of musicians to lend his name to a musical beat, Oliver Mtukudzi’s Music was named Tuku Music after him.
It embodied sweet and succinct sounds that merged Southern African township music, American gospel and soul riffs and traditional Zimbabwean sounds most notably the Katekwe music tones from his Kore-Kore tribe.
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