Legendary drummer and Afrobeat pioneer Tony Allen dies in Paris
Legendary Nigerian drummer Tony Allen, who created afrobeat along with his old bandmate Fela Kuti, died suddenly at the age of 79 in Paris on Thursday, his manager told AFP.
"We don't know the exact cause of death," manager Eric Trosset said, adding it was not linked to the coronavirus.
"He was in great shape, it was quite sudden. I spoke to him at 1:00 pm (1100 GMT), then two hours later he was sick and taken to Pompidou hospital where he died."
Allen was the drummer and musical director of Fela Kuti's band Africa '70 in the 1960s and 1970s.
Rest In Power to Tony Allen, The Godfather of Afrobeat Rhythms. Thank you for giving us the sound that would change our lives and our destiny as a people. pic.twitter.com/UXcoN3yF5k— Jidenna (@Jidenna) May 1, 2020
During that time the pair created afrobeat, combining West African musical styles such as highlife and fuji music with American imports jazz and funk. Afrobeat went on to become one of the totemic genres of 20th century African music.
Over Allen's thrilling beat, Fela laid out his revolutionary and pan-African message, which led him to become one of the abiding icons of the struggle for freedom across the continent.
>> Flashback: Tony Allen, Putting the 'beat' in Afrobeat
Allen and Fela recorded around 40 albums together in Africa '70, before parting ways after a mythic 26-year collaboration.
Such was the hole that Allen left in his band, Fela needed four drummers to replace him.
Allen taught himself to play drums from the age of 18, drawing inspiration from American jazz greats Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker as well as contemporary African music.
#RIP Tony Allen. Allen was the drummer and musical director of Fela Kuti's band Africa '70 from 1968 to 1979, and is one of the primary co-founders of the genre of Afrobeat music. #TonyAllen #Fela #Drummer pic.twitter.com/EwOBrvkTHm— Alain Mabanckou (@amabanckou) April 30, 2020
He remained hugely influential and beloved by generations of musicians.
British musician and producer Brian Eno has called Allen "perhaps the greatest drummer who ever lived".
Allen was the drummer in the supergroup The Good, the Bad & the Queen, also featuring Blur singer Damon Albarn and The Clash bassist Paul Simonon, which released its second album in 2018.
He lived in the Paris suburb Courbevoie.
Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morningSubscribe