Afrobeat pioneer, Tony Oladipo Allen, has died at the age of 80 in Paris.
Allen, who was a marvel to watch in the 60’s and 70’s, was the drummer and musical director of famous afro beat activist and musician Fela-Anikpulapko Kuti’s famous band Africa 70.
The legendary drummer’s manager, Eric Trosset, confirmed the his death last night, adding the Nigerian-born musician’s demise was not linked to Covid-19.
‘We don’t know the exact cause of death,he was in great shape and it was quite sudden,” Trosset told AFP.
Allen, who is credited as a co-founder of the Afrobeat genre, combined West African musical styles with US jazz and funk in his art.
Under his direction, Afrobeat went on to become a powerful music genre in the 20th century. He worked with Fela, to birth the following albums: “Gentle man(1973), Expensive shit (1975), Zombie (1976).
Allen and Anikulapo-Kuti recorded 40 albums together as Africa 70, before parting ways after a 26 years of successfully collaborating.
Acknowledging Allen’s prowess, Fela, who died in 1997, once said that ‘without Tony Allen, there would be no Afrobeat.
“Fela Kuti did not invent afrobeat, Fela and Tony birthed it together. Without Tony Allen there is NO afrobeat.”
Meanwhile, tributes have continued to pour in as Major Lazer, said: “Rip Tony Allen, the G.O.A.T. Do your research, legends never die. The inventor of rhythm. #Afrobeats.”
Similarly, Africa Express, a UK-based group that promotes African music, tweeted: “RIP Tony. Simply the best. We’ll miss you.”
Sean Lennon, the son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, said: “Another day, another legend passes on. It’s really incredible the rate at which we’re losing them. Tony Allen R.I.P.”
CANDIIDONLINE reports that Allen was a self-taught drummer who did not pick up the sticks until he was 18.
Despite coming to the drums relatively late, electronic music pioneer, Brian Eno, was once reported to have described him as perhaps the greatest drummer ever.