Hugh Masekela, South African jazz musician and political activist, died Jan. 23 in Johannesburg, South Africa of prostate cancer. He was 78.
Masekela was a trumpeter, flugelhornist, composer, and singer. He played the trumpet in the Huddleston Jazz Band which showcased his signature Afro-jazz sound. He also performed in the 1959 musical “King Kong” written by Todd Matshikiza. He then joined South African group the Jazz Epistles with members Kippie Moeketsi, Abdullah Ibrahim, and Jonas Gwangwa.
When Masekela moved to Los Angles in the 1960s, he pursued a solo career. He performed at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 alongside Otis Redding, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Ravi Shankar, and Janis Joplin. Masekela’s song “Grazin’ in the Grass” hit number one on the American pop charts. His released over 40 albums during his five-decade career, and worked with artists such as Harry Belafonte, Marvin Gaye, Paul Simon, and Stevie Wonder.