Afrobeat pioneer Tony Allen has died

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The death of Tony Allen has been announced by his manager Eric Trosset. He was 79.

Hailed by Brian Eno as ‘perhaps the greatest drummer who has ever lived’, Allen’s career took off in Africa and, after pioneering afrobeat, he became a regular fixture in western music too, working with, amongst others, Damon Albarn on the two Good, The Bad & The Queen albums, and the related Rocket Juice & The Moon venture with Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea.

The bass player has left a lengthy tibute on social media, echoing Brian Eno in remembering Allen as, ‘one of the greatest drummers to ever walk this earth’. “What a wildman, with a massive, kind and free heart and the deepest one-of-a-kind groove,” he’s written.

“Fela Kuti did not invent afrobeat, Fela and Tony birthed it together. Without Tony Allen there is NO afrobeat. I was lucky enough to spend many an hour with him, holed up in a London studio, jamming the days away. He was and still is, my hero. I wanted to honor his greatness so much when we played together, and I was nervous when we started, but he made me laugh like a two year old, and we fell right into pocket.”

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