Cameroonian saxophone legend Manu Dibango has died in Paris after catching coronavirus.
Dibango – best known for his 1972 hit Soul Makossa – is one of the first global stars to die from Covid-19.
The 86-year-old fused jazz and funk music with traditional sounds from his home country, Cameroon.
He collaborated with numerous artists over a long career, including US pianist Herbie Hancock and Nigeria’s Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti.
The Cameroonian musician filed a lawsuit in 2009 saying Michael Jackson had stolen a hook from his song, Soul Makossa, for two tracks on the world’s best-selling album, Thriller. Jackson settled the case out of court.
“It is with deep sadness that we announce you the loss of Manu Dibango, our Papy Groove,” a statement on his official Facebook page read.
His funeral will take place in “strict privacy”, the statement read, asking instead for people to send condolences by email and adding that a tribute will be arranged “when possible”.
Mourning Manu Dibango, Angelique Kidjo wrote alongside a video of both of them:
Dear #ManuDibango, you’ve always been there for me from my beginnings in Paris to this rehearsal just 2 months ago! You re the original Giant of African Music and a beautiful human being. This coda of #SoulMakossa is for you!
Dear #ManuDibango, you’ve always been there for me from my beginnings in Paris to this rehearsal just 2 months ago! You re the original Giant of African Music and a beautiful human being. This coda of #SoulMakossa is for you! pic.twitter.com/3pGoICwjCn
— Angelique Kidjo (@angeliquekidjo) March 24, 2020
Also reacting to Manu Dibango’s death, Senegalese maestro Youssou N’Dour called the Cameroonian a “genius” on the saxophone and described him as a “big brother, a pride for Cameroon and all of Africa”.
Both Ndour and Kidjo, along with other stars such as Salif Keita, Papa Wemba and King Sunny Ade, worked on Dibango’s 1994 album Wakafrika.
Speaking in 2013 about how he wanted to be remembered, Dibango said: “When you are gone, it is finished, it is not up to me to say, ‘I want this.'”
May his soul rest in perfect peace