RIP Tony Allen ➚︎
Afrobeat lost an icon. RIP Tony Ọládipọ̀ Allen, he was such a massive influence.
Allen came to prominence in Lagos alongside Fela Kuti. He started drumming in the late 50s while working at a radio station, looking to jazz icons such as Art Blakey and Max Roach for inspiration as he taught himself to play. In 1964 he met Kuti and they spent the next half-decade fine-tuning their fusion of west African party music and American funk and jazz, in the bands Koola Lobitos and, by 1969, Africa ’70. While Kuti, who died in 1997, is more well-known than his musical soulmate, he said that “without Tony Allen there would be no Afrobeat”.
Funfact: Allen formed the Art Rock group The Good, the Bad & the Queen with singer Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz, bassist Paul Simonon of the Clash and guitarist Simon Tong of the Verve. The supergroup released 2 albums.