Sahara Reporters were the first to break the news of the drummer’s passing, but details are scant for the time being. We’ll have more on the circumstances of his death as they’re available.
Born in Lagos in 1940, Allen came to fame as the musical director for Fela & Africa ’70, recording 30 albums with Fela Kuti and inventing the rhythmic blueprint of Afrobeat. Beyond his genre-defining work with Kuti, Allen acted as a bandleader on classic albums like Jealousy and Progress.
An irrepressible rhythmic force, Allen continued to tour and collaborate up to the time of his death. He worked with everyone from Archie Shepp to Damon Albarn and also had more than a fair share of interaction with the dance music world. In 2015, he joined the Moritz Von Oswald Trio, recording an album for Honest Jon’s Records, Sounding Lines. More recently, he collaborated with Jeff Mills on an EP, Tomorrow Comes The Harvest. (Check out Max Pearl’s review of Mills and Allen’s 2018 performance at Harlem’s Apollo Theater.)
Brian Eno once described Tony Allen as “perhaps the greatest drummer who has ever lived.”
Listen to Tony Allen with The Africa 70’s “Jealousy.”