FILE Pioneering African drummer Tony Allen, whose influential career spanned decades and continents, died of aortic failure at the Pompidou Hospital in Paris aged 79 on April 30, 2020, according to his manager.
Photo: Sylvain Cherkaoui/ AP Photo
Photo: Sylvain Cherkaoui/ AP Photo

Drummer Tony Allen, originator of Afrobeat sound, dies at 79

Allen died Thursday night at the Pompidou Hospital of an aortic aneurysm, his manager Eric Trosset confirmed to The Associated Press.

»RELATED: Bill Rieflin, drummer for R.E.M., King Crimson and others, has died

In an influential career that spanned decades and continents, Allen started drumming in Nigeria's Lagos in the 1960s and formed a partnership with Fela Kuti, composer, singer, bandleader and saxophonist. They are credited with launching the catchy Afrobeat dance music featuring prominent guitars, complex brass harmonies and poly-rhythmic drumming.

With a prolific output throughout the 1970s, Allen and Kuti gained sales and fame throughout Africa, Europe and North America.

Kuti's outspoken criticism of corruption and human rights abuses got him and his band into repeated trouble with Nigerian authorities and in 1978 Allen left to concentrate on his own music.

He collaborated with many of the world's top musicians including Brian Eno, Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorrillaz, Paul Simonon of the Clash and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

This year Allen released Rejoice, a CD of music he created with late South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.
AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.

Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.
AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.

X