HALALA
23/01/2018 11:14 SAST | Updated 24/01/2018 10:02 SAST

Never-Before-Seen Photos By Masekela's Long-Time Photographer Reveal Life Of A Legend

One of Hugh's closest collaborators gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the superstar's life.

Brett Rubin
Hugh Masekela.

Hugh Masekela's long-time photographer spoke to HuffPost on Tuesday morning to remember the life of the legendary musician, who had just passed away.

Brett Rubin, who grew up learning Masekela's music as a young musician himself, says the experience of working with him was often unreal.

Brett Rubin

"Working with him was always an incredibly surreal experience. I would always have to quietly pinch myself to believe that this was happening. After five years we built up an amazing level of trust and openness – I always used to joke that it felt like I had a job working at a national monument when I shot him. But he really just gave you such a beautiful, spiritual and very informed, wise way of looking at things – that you used to hope would rub off on you when you were in his company," Rubin says.

Rubin was one of the last photographer's to work intimately with Hugh – their relationship only began toward the end of the iconic trumpeter's life and career.

Brett Rubin

"I approached Hugh's management just to try and get a portrait, but that eventually turned into videos and albums, and a whole lot of stuff in-between. But for me the importance was when people get to that level of fame and being so loved by a nation, it's very easy to just celebrate them, but not document them – so on a personal level, I wanted to show that period of his life, when he knew that he was reaching the end of his career. And I just wanted to try and help tell story."

The photographer's love of Masekela's music began at arts school.

Brett Rubin

"I studied music through the National School of the Arts part-time at school, as an extra subject – this is probably the mid-90's – and I was played 'Stimela', and all the other famous ones... and I just had this amazing realisation that South Africa had people on the same level as people like Miles Davis and other jazz greats. But it was so tragic to learn that his life played out in a different way because of the political context at the time."

Masekela passed away quietly with his family at the home in Johannesburg after a long battle with cancer.