1993 L-R: Derek De Beer, Mandisa Dlanga, Solly Letwamba, Johnny Clegg, Steve Mavuso, Keith Hutchinson
In 1969, Clegg formed the first prominent racially mixed South African band, Juluka, with Zulu musician Sipho Mchunu. The name Juluka is based on the Zulu word for "sweat". Because it was illegal for racially mixed bands to perform in South Africa during the apartheid era, their first album Universal Men received no air play on the state owned SABC, but it became a word-of-mouth hit. Juluka's / Clegg's music was both implicitly and explicitly political; not only was the fact of the success of the band (which openly celebrated African culture in a bi-racial band) a thorn in the flesh of a political system based on racial separation, the band also produced some explicitly political songs. For example, the later Savuka album Third World Child in 1987, with songs like "Asimbonanga" ("We haven't seen him"), which called for the release of Nelson Mandela, and which called out the names of three representative martyrs of the South African liberation struggle – Steve Biko, Victoria Mxenge, and Neil Aggett.
As a result, Clegg and other band members were arrested several times and concerts routinely broken up. Juluka were able to tour in Europe, and had two platinum and five gold albums, becoming an international success.