Greatest Nigerian drummer Tony Allen, died in Paris aged 79. He is a co-founder of the Afrobeat musical genre. Eric Trosset, his manager, confirmed that he died from a heart attack, and his death is not linked to the coronavirus. In addition, Allen was a musical director and a drummer of musician Fela Kuti’s famous band Africa ’70 in the 1960-70s.
Fela, as he was popularly known, died in 1997. He once said that without Tony Allen, afrobeat would not be in existence. Afrobeat is a combination of elements from West Africa’s fuji music and highlife styles with American funk and jazz.
Renown stars pay their tributes
Briano Eno, a UK musician, described as possibly as the greatest drummer who has ever lived. Trosset shared tributes in a Facebook post, saying his eyes saw what most couldn’t see. Also, just like he used to say ‘There is no end’. Beninois singer Angelique Kidjo confessed that she had been struck by Allen’s and Manu’s death. Flea described him as one of the greatest drummers to ever walk this earth and his hero.
“What I want to remember about them is our musical conversation, the laughter, our joy. They are dead, but they are not dead for me,” Angelique Kidjo said.
Tony Allen’s story.
The Nigerian drummer’s career and life story were recorded in his 2013 autobiography Tony Allen: Master Drummer of Afrobeat. He was born in 1940 in Lagos. Playing drums was self-taught at the age of 18. He revealed he learned his style by listening to Max Roach and Art Blakey drumming. He then crafted a unique polyphonic rhythm of afrobeat and was said to be able to play four different beats with a piece of his limbs.
In 1964, Allen met Fela, and they went ahead and recorded dozens of albums in Africa in the ’70. This album included Gentleman and Zombie. Later in 1979, Allan left the band after claimed disagreement with band leaders over royalties. Allan required four separate drummers to fill the gap. In 1984, he moved to London and later to Paris. During his music career, Allen collaborated with various artists, and drummed in The Good, the Bad & the Queen, with Simon Tong, Damon Albarn, and Paul Simenon.
An instantly recognizable sound
There is a beautiful, unique bounce to Tony Allen’s drumming style that makes any track he played instantly recognizable. However, that is not to say he stagnated. He always learned, forming a new musical relationship and advancing his sound. The combination of the snare, bass, and hi-hat is uniquely Tony Allen-styled. Despite you listening to him as a driving force or playing live last year together with Damon Albarn.
Allen once said Art Blakey was probably a magician because it sounded like more than one person was sitting behind the drum kit. I recently got a chance to stand at the stage to study the movement of Tony Allen’s hands and feet carefully. However, I was fascinated by magic. He didn’t seem to age a lot and looked prepared to keep drumming for many coming years.
In addition, as he said it: “I’m looking forward to the future for it’s a long, long way to go. There’s no end. I’m very certain of that.”