The legendary Nigerian drummer and songwriter Tony Allen, one of the creators of the afrobeat style, died in Paris at the age of 79, his representative, Eric Trosset, reported today.
Goodbye Tony! Your eyes saw what most couldn’t see. You are the coolest person on Earth. As you used to say, ‘there is no end’, said Trosset on his Facebook social network page as a tribute.
Allen died Thursday at the Pompidou Hospital in the French capital, where he had lived for years, from a sudden aneurysm, Trosset told CNN.
The artist was considered, along with the Nigerian singer-songwriter Fela Kuti, the creator of Afrobeat, a genre that mixes Yoruba, jazz, funk and highlife music and was very popular in Africa in the 1970s.
Kuti, who died in 1997, went on to say that “without Tony Allen, there would be no afrobeat.” Not surprisingly, Allen was from 1969 to 1979 the drummer for his legendary band, ‘Africa 70’.
Born in the Nigerian metropolis of Lagos, Allen, who started playing drums at the age of 18 as a self-taught man while working as a technician for a radio station in his hometown, went on to record more than thirty albums with Kuti and ‘Africa 70 ‘.
Some songs used to last more than ten minutes and their lyrics were often tirades against corruption, the authoritarian leaders of Africa and the military regimes of Nigeria.
However, the two geniuses ended up separating due to discrepancies over money and copyrights and Allen left the band in 1979 to go to London and later settle in Paris.
The drummer collaborated with international musicians such as Brian Eno, Damon Albarn (singer of Blur and Gorillaz), Paul Simonon (bassist of The Clash) or Flea (bassist of Red Hot Chilli Peppers), among others.
Brian Eno came to define him as “perhaps the best drummer ever,” a compliment that the Nigerian artist always humbly fitted in with.
“In any case I am among the best. At the end of the day, I have been playing the same instrument for 48 years and that must be noted, ”Allen clarified in 2009 in Logroño (northern Spain).
The death of the drummer caused numerous reactions of sadness and tribute, such as that of Flea, who said in his account on the social network Twitter: “The epic Tony Allen, one of the best drummers who has ever walked on this earth, has left us ».
Beninese singer Angelique Kidjo described Allen on Twitter as “a beautiful spirit and friend” who “changed the history of African music.”