Pioneering Afrobeat Drummer Tony Allen Has Died


The music world is mourning the loss of famed Nigerian drummer Tony Allen, who died today in Paris. He is believed to be 79.

Allen was the drummer and musical director of Fela Kuti’s band Africa ’70 from 1968 to 1979. He is regarded as one of the founding fathers of Afrobeat music. While growing up in Nigeria, he was exposed to a wealth of musical styles, from Latin to highlife.

Over the arc of his music career, which began in the late ’60s, Allen collaborated with a cavalcade of musicians, including Sébastien Tellier; Damon Albarn, Paul Simonon, and Simon Tong as drummer for The Good, the Bad & the Queen; Air and Jarvis Cocker of Pulp.

In 2018, he recorded the Tomorrow Comes The Harvest EP with Detroit techno stalwart Jeff Mills.

Mills wrote on a heartfelt Facebook post: “Today, we’ve just lost the best drummer that has ever lived. The Lion. Rhythms and patterns so complex and on such a high level of communication, there are not words yet created to describe what he created. It was otherworldly. He was otherworldly! A master musician and a master thinker.”

“His magnetic personality and view about music pulled you into his World and it was wonderful. They’ll never be another person like him”. Today, we lost the great one. RIP. (With Tony Allen somewhere in London).”

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Darren Ressler

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