Fela’s Drummer Tony Oladipo Allen Dies At 79

by on May 1, 2020

Fela’s Drummer Tony Oladipo Allen who was also a composer, and songwriter is dead.

He born in Lagos, Nigeria in 1940 passed on, Wednesday evening in Paris after suffering a heart attack.

Tony who lives in Paris, France worked with Fela Kuti’s band Africa ’70 from 1968 to 1979, and was one of the primary co-founders of the genre of Afrobeat music.

Tony’s manager, Eric Trosset, revealed that Allen took ill in the afternoon and was taken to the Hôpital européen Georges-Pompidou, where he died.

Recall that Fela Kuti once said: “Without Tony Allen, there would be no Afrobeat.” This is why Tony was highly revered.

Tony who did not start playing drums until he turned 18, used to work as an electrical technician for a radio station in Lagos. Shortly before he started playing drums, he told his parents that he intended to become a musician. As expected, they were disappointed with his new ambition.

American jazz drummers; Max Roach, Gene Krupa and Art Blakey were entertainment artists Tony looked up to.

Tony met Fela in the early 1960s and by 1964, they were already playing the first American-style jazz together before they began to play highlife jazz that had a touch of African style. The legendary band Africa 70 was birthed in 1969.

Tony and Fela recorded more than 30 albums together before splitting apart because of money, credits and royalties disputes.

In particular about their differences was Tony’s distaste for Fela’s “militarism” and folks flocking around Fela whom Tony found parasitic.

After separation in 1979, Tony travelled to United Kingdom before moving on to settle in Paris.

He later explored other music styles ranging from Afrofunk and American jazz to rap and electronica which he was successful at. He continue to give his fans the sort of entertainment they craved for.

Barely a month to his death, he released another album, “Rejoice”, which involved a collaboration with the late South African artiste, Hugh Masekela, who died in 2018.

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