14/07/2017 09:11 SAST | Updated 14/07/2017 09:11 SAST

Ray Phiri's Childhood Friends: He Bowed Out Too Soon But He Left Us With Great Memories

The jazz legend learnt how to cook from Miriam Makeba.


Ray Phiri's childhood friend and brother, Paul Nkanyane says the void left by the legendary musician is too great.

Nkanyane, the legend's best friend became emotional when speaking about his and Phiri's upbringing in the farming community of Crocodile Valley outside Nelspruit.

Nkanyane told HuffPost SA that he already misses Phiri.

"This man was a great father. His parenting style was legendary. I can only aspire to be the kind of father to my children that he was to his. It was inspiring to watch him put his children on his back when going shopping. The bond he had with each one of his kids was too great," Nkanyane said.

He said he will also miss Phiri's cooking and how he used to prepare exotic dishes from across the world when there were special occasions.

"Ray attributed his cooking skills to the late Miriam Makeba which he picked up while they toured the world together and performing. He enjoyed showing off in the kitchen and during weekends he made sure his wife did not touch the pots and he would make all the meals starting from breakfast," said Nkanyane.

Nelspruit-born music promoter and businessperson, Bruce Kgapane said he owed the success of his business to the 70-year-old.

"He is the reason I started a technical supply business. When he complained that concert organisers don't always get it right when it comes to sound, he advised me to start a technical supply business. And when I decided to start the business as per his advice, he took me to places where the best sound can be found. I owe him a lot for that because and my business is flourishing today because of him," said Kgapane.

He said the country has lost an institution.

"Ray respected his craft and respected people. He always showed up for a performance hours ahead of the show. He studied the industry and knew what works and could advise fellow artists, promoters and technical staff on how to be better at wat they do," he said.

He added: "For me, this loss is like waking up in the morning and be told that a university had burnt down. We have lost so much. He was a walking archive and if our young musicians did not learn anything from him while he was still alive then they are on their own".

Johan Sibiya said Phiri was more than a friend but a brother and mentor to him.

Sibiya said he was saddened and will miss Phiri's jokes.
"This man was always prepared. He never got on stage under the influence of alcohol. He was always sober in his performances. What people did not understand about him was how he always spent over an hour doing a sound check before he could perform. He never disrespected his audience and I will miss that about him," said Sibiya.

Phiri died of lung cancer on Wednesday and will be laid rest on Saturday, July 22 following a funeral service at the Mbombela Stadium.