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RIP Tony Allen
Christian Eede , May 1st, 2020 00:05

The pioneering Afrobeat drummer died on Thursday (April 30)

Tony Allen, the legendary Afrobeat drummer who formed an integral part of Fela Kuti's band Africa '70, has died, aged 79.

The news was first broken by Sahara Reporters, though a cause of death is not yet publicly known. Early reports, since confirmed by his manager, Eric Trosset, said that Allen died suddenly in Paris on Thursday (April 30).

“We don’t know the exact cause of death,” Trosset said, adding that it was not linked to the coronavirus. “He was in great shape, it was quite sudden. I spoke to him at 1pm then two hours later he was sick and taken to Pompidou hospital, where he died.”

Born in Lagos in 1940, Allen's work came to define the rhythmic foundations of Afrobeat as musical director of Africa '70, the band of Fela Kuti. Fela once said that "without Tony Allen, there would be no Afrobeat."

Allen recorded 30 albums with Fela through the 1970s, while also leading his own records such as 1975's Jealousy, 1977's Progress and 1979's No Accommodation For Lagos. He decided to leave Africa '70 in 1979, taking many members of the group with him.

Allen continued to work on various projects and tour up until his death. In 2006, he joined Damon Albarn, Paul Simonon, and Simon Tong as drummer for The Good, The Bad & The Queen. He also replaced Vladislav Delay as drummer for Moritz Von Oswald Trio in 2015, releasing an album as part of the group called Sounding Lines on Honest Jon's Records.

Allen also struck up a touring partnership with Jeff Mills in recent years, with the pair releasing an EP together called Tomorrow Comes The Harvest in 2018.

You can read an interview with Tony Allen, originally published on tQ in 2012, here.

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