Legendary drummer Tony Allen has died, aged 79

Tributes paid to the co-creator of Afrobeat

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Afrobeat pioneer Tony Allen has died, aged 79. The legendary drummer passed away yesterday (April 30) at the Georges Pompidou European Hospital in Paris, having suffered an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

The Lagos-born Allen was credited as the co-creator of Afrobeat, having developed the style over numerous albums throughout the 1970s with Fela Kuti & Africa ’70. Kuti himself famously stated that, “without Tony Allen there would be no Afrobeat.”

Allen relocated to Europe in the 1980s, and in recent years had become increasingly prolific. He was a member of Damon Albarn’s supergroups The Good, The Bad & The Queen and Rocket Juice & The Moon, and played with Grace Jones, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Angélique Kidjo and Jeff Mills. Earlier this year he released Rejoice, a collaborative album with late jazz trumpeter Hugh Masekela (read Uncut’s review here).


Brian Eno once described Allen as “perhaps the greatest drummer who has ever lived”.

Writing on Twitter, Flea – who played with Allen in Rocket Juice & The Moon – wrote “the greatest drummer on earth has left us. What a wildman with a massive, kind and free heart and the deepest one-of-a-kind groove. Fela Kuti did not invent afrobeat, Fela and Tony birthed it…”

Nigel Godrich called Allen “a pioneer who’s vibrations changed popular music forever.. and quite the character too..”


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