Legendary Nigerian drummer Tony Allen, who created afrobeat along with his old bandmate Fela Kuti, has died at the age of 79 in Paris, France.
Allen was the drummer and musical director of Fela Kuti’s band Africa ’70 in the 1960s and 1970s.
During that time the pair created afrobeat, combining West African musical styles such as highlife and fuji music with American imports jazz and funk.
The duo recorded more than 30 albums together, before going their separate ways in the late Seventies. Tony Allen remained hugely influential and beloved by generations of musicians.
“Fela’s relationship with Tony Allen, who joined the Fela Ransome-Kuti Quintet in 1964, was one of permanent collaboration, for though Afrobeat was overwhelmingly Fela’s creation, Allen’s drum-patterns were signature ingredients.
“Allen was the anchorman of all Fela’s bands for fourteen years, as the Quintet morphed first into Koola Lobitos, then Nigeria 70, then Africa 70, and finally Afrika 70. Along with most of Fela’s musicians, he left Afrika 70 in 1978, triggering the formation of Egypt 80,” the Nigeria legend’s memorial website wrote about Allen.
RIP to the late great Tony Allen, legendary drummer. Allen joined the Fela Ransome-Kuti Quintet in 1964 and was the anchor of Fela’s bands for fourteen years, from Koola Loobitos to Nigeria 70 to Africa 70 to Afrika 70. Read more here: https://t.co/V7BqmdVvl9 pic.twitter.com/paSB98Ndph— Fela Kuti (@felakuti) May 1, 2020