Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s former drummer, composer and songwriter, Tony Allen, has passed away.
Allen died in Paris, France, on Thursday, aged 80. He was born in Lagos and regarded as one of the founders of Afrobeat.
Fela once stated that “Without Tony Allen, there would be no Afrobeat.” Allen has also been described by Brian Eno as “perhaps the greatest drummer who ever lived”
Allen’s career and life story were documented in his 2013 autobiography Tony Allen: Master Drummer of Afrobeat,
Afrobeat combines elements of West Africa’s fuji music and highlife styles with American funk and jazz.
Allen, who was born in Lagos in 1940, taught himself how to play drums when he was 18.
He said he learnt his technique by listening to American jazz drummers Art Blakey and Max Roach.
Allen first met Fela in 1964, and they went on to record dozens of albums in Africa ’70, including Gentleman and Zombie.
Allen left the band in 1979, after reported rifts with the band leader over royalties. Fela needed four separate drummers to fill the void.
Allen emigrated to London in 1984, and later moved to Paris.
He collaborated with a number of artists during his long music career, and was the drummer in The Good, the Bad & the Queen, with Damon Albarn, Paul Simenon and Simon Tong.