Tony Allen, Legendary Afrobeat Pioneer, Dies at 79

tony-allen-obit-2010-billboard-1548-1588293758.jpg
Samir Hussein/Getty Images

Tony Allen performs in the Siam Tent on day 1 of Womad on July 23, 2010, in Malmesbury, England.

Tony Allen, a celebrated innovator of the Afrobeat genre, died Thursday (April 30) in Paris. He was 79 years old.

Allen's cause of death is not known at the time of publication. “We don’t know the exact cause of death,” his manager Eric Trosset told France 24. “He was in great shape; it was quite sudden. I spoke to him at 1 p.m., then two hours later he was sick and taken to Pompidou hospital where he died.”

The Nigerian legend served as the drummer and musical director of Fela Kuti's band Africa '70 in the 1960s and 1970s. While in the band, he participated in iconic Afrobeat albums such as 1973’s Gentleman, 1975’s Expensive Shit and 1976’s Zombie.

“There was no band like the Africa 70,” Fela’s son Femi Kuti once told Rolling Stone. “And there is no drummer like Tony Allen.”

In recent years, Allen has played alongside Damon Albarn in multiple projects, including The Good, The Bad & The Queen, as well as Charlotte Gainsbourg, Air, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea and others.

A number of musicians who looked up to Allen took to social media to share their grief following the unfortunate news, including Major Lazer, Flea and Sean Ono Lennon. See their posts below.

THE BILLBOARD BIZ
SUBSCRIBER EXPERIENCE

The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to Billboard.com/business.


To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.