The jazz, fusion and mbaqanga muso was recently admitted to a Nelspruit hospital.
Earlier this week his band mate Richard Mitchell said that Phiri had exhausted all his private funds, including medical aid funds, and was in need of funding.
In the days leading up to his death, a crowd-funding initiative was started to aid the music veteran. But, according to reports the page was shut down just hours after it had started at the request of the family. Just under R3 000 of its R50 000 goal was collected, with donations from around the world.
The guitarist nicknamed “Just Now” was the founding member of the Cannibals in the '70s. When the Cannibals disbanded, he founded Stimela, with whom he created gold and platinum-selling albums like Fire, Passion and Ecstacy, Look, Listen and Decide and the controversial People Don’t Talk So Let’s Talk.
Artist and poet Mzwakhe Mbuli says Phiri’s death is a blow to the music industry, while musician and radio personality Bob Mabena says Phiri was an incredible performer.
Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi also paid tribute: “A dark cloud has fallen on us. Ray Phiri has left this world and it is a painful morning for us.” he said.
@MbuyiseniNdlozi wrote: “So heartbreaking: oh bra Ray Phiri. May his soul rest in perfect musical peace!”
So heart breaking: oh bra Ray Phiri 😔🙏🏿 💔 May his soul rest in perfect musical peace! pic.twitter.com/RMo3chJiXR
A tweet from Maps Maponyane reads: “Rest In Peace to one of South Africa’s musical greats, Ntate Ray Phiri. Your music will live on forever.”
Rest In Peace to one of South Africa's musical greats, Ntate Ray Phiri. Your music will live on forever🙏💔 pic.twitter.com/7nCTcliXn9
And @CassperNyovest said: “Rip to the legend. Thank you for the music. Mr Ray Phiri.”