Ladysmith Black Mambazo confirmed the sad news today, tweeting the following:
Bhekizizwe Joseph Shabalala— Ladysmith Black Mambazo (@therealmambazo) February 11, 2020
Our Founder, our Teacher and most importantly, our Father left us today for eternal peace. We celebrate and honor your kind heart and your extraordinary life. Through your music and the millions who you came in contact with, you shall live forever. pic.twitter.com/2eDNFDUAGf
"Yes it's true. Mr Shabalala passed on this morning," the band''s manager Xolani Majozi confirmed to the South Africa Times. "The group is on tour in the U.S., but they have been informed and are devastated because the group is family."
Born Bhekizizwe Joseph Siphatimandla Mxoveni Mshengu Bigboy Shabalala in 1941, the musician rose to fame and multiple Grammy Awards with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, which he founded in 1960. The group became known for blending indigenous Zulu songs with the traditional a cappella singing style of isicathamiya.
In 1973, Ladysmith Black Mambazo released Amabutho, becoming the first record by black musicians in South Africa to go gold.
In 1986, the group would famously join Paul Simon for his Graceland album, with Shabalala co-writing the song "Homeless." This led to frequent collaborations between Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Simon, who would produce three of the group's albums. This included their Grammy-winning 1987 effort Shaka Zulu.
Overall, Ladysmith Black Mambazo won five Grammys with Shabalala.
Due to health issues, Shabalala retired from touring with the group in 2014, but he continued to make public appearances over the years. Ladysmith Black Mambazo continue to tour the globe under the leadership of Shabalala's son.