Tony Allen, the pioneering drummer who helped define Afrobeat during his tenure with Fela Kuti, died last night, Thursday evening, he was 79.
ALLEN’S manager, Eric Trosser, confirmed the musician’s death, adding that Allen was taken to Georges Pompidou European Hospital in Paris, where he died of abdominal aortic aneurysm. “He was in great shape, it was quite sudden.”
As a member of Kuti’s band Africa 70, Allen helped revolutionise the art of drumming, simultaneously anchoring and propelling classic albums like 1973’s Gentleman, 1975’s Expensive Shit, and the Afrobeat legend’s most enduring work, 1976’s Zombie.
Each release depended on Allen’s slippery, ferocious, polyrhythmic grooves. “Without Tony Allen, there would be no Afrobeat,” Kuti once said. Damon Albarn and Brian Eno were also famously enamoured with Allen’s playing; Eno called him “one of the great musicians of the 20th century, and the 21st.”