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Fela created Afrobeats alone, says ex-Manager

Rikki Stein, a close friend and former manager of late Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, has stated that the musician is the sole creator of the genre.

Stein made this clarification to correct the impression that recent media reports that Fela’s late drummer, Tony Allen, championed the afrobeats genre of music.

He noted how the deceased drummer is being given the credit of a co-creator of afrobeat even when he never made such claims when he was alive.

Stein however commended the genius of the late Allen, and noted how Fela would have praised him as the best drummer he had ever known in their 14 years of working together.

“Tony was a good friend of mine for many years, for whom I have infinite respect and affection, both as a human being and consummately gifted musician.

“I never heard him making such a claim for himself and feel that he would have found such a description of his relationship with Fela both embarrassing and inaccurate,” he told Okay Africa magazine.

He acknowledged Allen’s significant contributions as a drummer who worked on about 40 albums with the late Fela adding that he could not help but agree when musician, Brian Eno, described Allen as the world’s greatest drummer.

The manager made it clear that while Allen brought in his input to production, Fela was mostly responsible for composition, arrangement, rehearsal and everything that went on inside the studio, which therefore makes it hard to easily tag the late Allen as a co-creator of the genre.

“Even at sound check before a show, Fela would personally tune every single instrument, even the drums, although I doubt that he would have needed to do so with as consummate a drummer as Tony. But that’s still a long way from ‘co-creator’ of the entire opus. From composition, arrangements, rehearsals, on stage performances and in the studio, Fela was totally in charge. Always.

“This is by no means a denigration of Tony’s unique and universally respected contribution. Just an advice to journalists to carefully consider their use of hyperbole. Let’s give credit where credit is due,” Stein said.

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Written by Mateen Badru


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