Fela’s drummer, Tony Allen, dies

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Former drummer, composer and songwriter of Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Tony Allen, has died at 79 in Paris.

Allen’s death was announced on Thursday by his manager, Eric Trosset, during a session with Agence France-Presse(AFP).

He stated that Allen took ill in the afternoon and was taken to the Hôpital européen Georges-Pompidou, where he died.

“We don’t know the exact cause of death. He was in great shape, it was quite sudden. I spoke to him at 1pm then two hours later he was sick and taken to Pompidou hospital, where he died,” Trosset said

Allen was born in Lagos in 1940 and was regarded as one of the founders of Afrobeat.

A self-taught musician, he began playing drums at the age of 18 while working as an engineer for a Nigerian radio station.

Allen was the drummer and musical director of Fela Kuti’s band Africa ’70 in the 1960s and 70s and Late Fela once stated that, “Without Tony Allen, there would be no Afrobeat,” over his thrilling styles on drums.

Allen and Kuti recorded some 40 albums together as Africa ’70 before parting ways after a mythic 26-year collaboration.

Such was the hole that Allen left in his band Kuti needed four drummers to replace him.

Also, he was the drummer in the supergroup the Good, the Bad & the Queen, also featuring the Blur singer Damon Albarn and the Clash bassist Paul Simonon, which released its second album in 2018.

Artists, including Major Lazer, Gilles Peterson and Flea have paid tributes to Allen on Twitter with the rapper Biz Markie describing him as “an all-time titan spanning continents, eras, and sounds.”

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