Fela Kuti’s Drummer/Songwriter, Tony Allen Is Dead
Tony Allen is dead.
According to Rolling Stone, the drummer and songwriter who, alongside Fela Kuti, defined the legacy of the Afrobeat, died on Thursday in Paris, France.
The cause of his death had yet to be confirmed as at press time.
The legendary Nigerian-born artist began drumming when he was only a teenager, and later in life, he began performing alongside Fela when both were sidemen in the African nation’s jazz circuit. He also served as drummer in Kuti’s “Koola Lobitos” jazz band, which later morphed into Africa 70.
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As a member of Africa 70, Allen appeared on classic Kuti albums like 1973’s Gentleman, 1975’s Expensive Shit and the Afrobeat legend’s most enduring work, 1976’s Zombie. Each release featured Allen’s innovative, hypnotic polyrhythmic grooves. “Without Tony Allen, there would be no Afrobeat,” Kuti once said.
In addition to his solo work, Allen was known for his collaborations with Damon Albarn: Allen was a member of The Good, The Bad and the Queen alongside Albarn and the Clash’s Paul Simonon and the Verve’s Simon Tong, with that band releasing a pair of albums, a self-titled 2007 LP and 2018’s Merrie Land. Allen, Albarn and Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea — under the moniker Rocket Juice & The Moon — also released a collaborative album in 2012.
He was 79.