AFRICA MOURNING: TONY ALLEN, World’s greatest Drummer, godfather of Afrobeat Rhythms dies of Heart Attack at Pompidou Hospital in Paris …Fela Kuti’s former music director battled Aortic rupture disease to stay alive, plus his last interview few weeks ago in France *79 years old musician latest album titled ‘Rejoice’ in collaboration with south African trumpeter, Hugh Masakela trend on Billboards * ‘Tony Allen is dead. He died of heart attack. He had no contact with Coronavirus disease. He was the greatest drummer that ever lived’-Eric Trosset, manager to Tony Allen * Why publicist earlier tried to hide the demise of Afrobeat maestro-INVESTIGATION * BY GEORGE ELIJAH OTUMU/AMERICAN Foreign Bureau Chief & DAMIEN YERMT/Reporter, France


AFRICA MOURNING:

TONY ALLEN, World’s greatest Drummer, godfather of Afrobeat Rhythms dies of Heart Attack at Pompidou Hospital in Paris

…Fela Kuti’s former music director battled Aortic rupture disease to stay alive, plus his last interview few weeks ago in France

*79 years old musician latest album titled ‘Rejoice’ in collaboration with south African trumpeter, Hugh Masakela trend on Billboards

* ‘Tony Allen is dead. He died of heart attack. He had no contact with Coronavirus disease. He was the greatest drummer that ever lived’-Eric Trosset, manager to Tony Allen

* Why publicist earlier tried to hide the demise of Afrobeat maestro-INVESTIGATION

* BY GEORGE ELIJAH OTUMU/AMERICAN Foreign Bureau Chief & DAMIEN YERMT/Reporter, France

AT 79 years, he still looked very strong, peaceful, even in his sleep at Pompidou Hospital in Paris, France where he died. TONY OLADIPO ALLEN, famously known as ‘Tony Allen’, the world’s greatest drummer has passed on of ‘Heart Attack’ after battling the deadly aortic rupture disease. Africans are now mourning him.

This former drummer to Africa’s Afrobeat Legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti had his last interview arranged for him at his bedside by BMG Record. He was an Afrobeat pioneer with Fela. The co-founder of the Afrobeat musical genre, died in Paris on Thursday. Eric Trosset, manager to Allen confirmed he had died of a heart attack; saying this was not linked to Coronavirus. “Tony Allen is dead. He died of heart attack. He had no contact with Coronavirus disease. He was the greatest drummer that ever lived,” Trosset. Allen’s latest album titled ‘Rejoice’ in collaboration with south African trumpeter, Hugh Masakela trend on Billboards.

Why publicist earlier tried to hide the demise of Afrobeat maestro-INVESTIGATION

It was gathered that immediately information reached Allen band that the great drummer had died, his publicist in France tried to keep the matter secret when by lying to a section of the press that Allen was not dead at the prestigious french hospital.

It took an overwhelming pressure from Trosset after he had informed the immediate family members of Allen of the demise of the accomplished musician and was directed to let the world know, and clear doubt in any rumor after which media outlets were duly informed officially of Allen’s passage.

Allen was the drummer and musical director of Fela Kuti’s band Africa 70 in the 1960s and ’70s, and most recently played alongside Blur and Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn as part of the supergroup The Good, the Bad and the Queen.

He played Afrobeats, a pulsating West African style of music, was popularized by its pioneer, the late musician and political activist Kuti in the 1960s.

Fela Kuti, described as one of Africa’s biggest stars, used its groovy beats and his song lyrics as a commentary to speak against the military government in Nigeria at the time.

But a new generation of Afrobeats artists has gained success and recognition internationally through the music genre, though they’ve steered clear of political references in their music.

Red Hot Chill Peppers bassist Flea paid tribute on social media: “The epic Tony Allen, one of the greatest drummers to ever walk this earth has left us. What a wildman, with a massive, kind and free heart and the deepest one-of-a-kind groove.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bd2lwjznoKc

From humble beginnings, he taught himself how to play the drums and by the young age of seventeen, Allen had already achieved acclaim in a competitive field.

At the beginning of 2020, Tony Allen announced a new record, titled ‘Rejoice’, which he recorded with legendary South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela. The first single off of the collaborative record is titled, ‘We’ve Landed.’

Tony’s most recent solo album, ‘The Source’, was released in 2017 and this forthcoming project is the first posthumous release from Hugh, who died in early 2018. His final solo album was 2016’s No Borders

Tony Allen last interview:

As I connect to Tony in Paris, via representatives from BMG, there’s a knowing pause almost as if he has braced himself for my first question and is ready to answer in mature and weathered voice.

As might have guessed, I ask him how ‘Rejoice’ came about, he immediately answered: “The collaboration came about after the first time I met Hugh. The first time we met was in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1984, I think it was. That was while I was working with Fela. Then we said we try and do something together when and if we could.”

He goes on, slightly slower: “But then everyone went their own way, and it never happened. Then in 2007, we got together. I was recording my second album with (producer) Nick (Gold). I wanted it to be a collaborative album. So, we got it together, we had nothing written, we just went into the studio in London.”

Looking back at that particular time in the studio, Tony said:“It’s funny you know; it feels so long ago now but still so fresh. Music happens as it happens, sometimes you can get caught up in the moment playing the drums. I would never give Hugh advice about his work. But it was a collaboration. It was two ideas; putting them together. “

He added: “There was no negativity, it was driven by jazz. It was all to make the best music possible. That was it, that was the driving force.”

As I tried to tease out if there was any butting of heads in the studio, Tony said: “We never got to finish our work together. I only got to finish it this past summer. We were not able to go back into the studio together. I had to go back in and finish it without him. It was different, but I wanted to do it. “

Tony’s voice then got a little bit thicker as I asked if what the experience of going back into the studio without his friend was like: “Yes, it was bittersweet, I don’t know, what else to say about it.”

When I asked Tony how he feels Nigerian music has grown since he started in the industry to now, he said he thought that divisions based on geographical boundaries aren’t necessary for the arts. He said: “When it comes to music I don’t think of Nigerian music and American music or British music, I think of music. When you talk about Nigerian music, I don’t know specifically know what that is. It is just music.”

He elaborated: “I do know what you mean if you say local music when people sing in their own language, but it is a border conversation about music in general.”

He then spoke in a more extensive way: “A lot of people are doing the same thing, but there are some who trying something new. Most of the time, I want to focus on my own art. Otherwise, it is easy to get stuck, and I don’t want to get stuck.”

He then refocused the conversation on his own personal journey, saying: “I want to push myself to keep doing more and to keep going forward. There is no end to this (path) that I’m on, I will keep going for as long as I can. Music has no end; it is there for everyone to explore.”

He added: “There are even more avenues that I would like to explore, but this desire is still in me. To do more and to see more…And I’m learning, more and more by doing this.” He said, with an air of finality, perhaps ready to move on: “I don’t like to look back, only forward.”

Tony was more apprehensive about accepting the title of founder of the Afrobeat movement, bestowed on him by his long-time collaborator.

In a famous quote by Fela Kuti, he said: “Without Tony Allen, there would be no Afrobeat.”

The 79-year-old said pensively: “I’ve heard that he did say that, but I have to say that it can’t just be one person. It’s all the people together. I love collaboration as well; it takes two to do this. The beat is number one, just the beat. It’s just a question of creativity and hoping that the music will outlive us all. It doesn’t stop with death.”

*Additional report by Channel 24

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