JOHANNESBURG (AP) – Pioneer drummer Tony Allen, Afrobeat sound driver, died in Paris at the age of 79.
Allen died Thursday night at Pompidou Hospital of an aortic aneurysm, manager Eric Trosset confirmed to the Associated Press.
In an influential career that spanned decades and continents, Allen began drumming in Lagos, Nigeria in the 1960s and formed a partnership with Fela Kuti, composer, singer, conductor and saxophonist. They are known to have launched the lively Afrobeat dance music with leading guitars, complex brass harmonies and poly-rhythmic percussions.
With prolific production throughout the 1970s, Allen and Kuti gained sales and fame across Africa, Europe and North America.
Kuti’s harsh criticism of corruption and human rights abuses caused him and his group repeated troubles with the Nigerian authorities, and in 1978 Allen left to focus on his own music.
He has collaborated with several of the best musicians in the world, including Brian Eno, Damon Albarn from Blur and Gorrillaz, Paul Simonon from Clash and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
This year Allen released Rejoice, a music CD he created with South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela.