Tony Olidapo Allen was born in Nigeria in 1940, and is regarded as the one of the principal founders of Juju and Afrobeat. A self-taught musician, being around Lagos at the right time meant he was engaged by Fela Kuti for his band Africa ’70. A natural percussive genius, Allen had the rare ability to play a different rhythm with each of his four limbs, whilst making it look effortless.
After dozens of albums, tensions in the ranks led to him quitting Kuti’s band in the late 70s. He relocated to London, then later to Paris. What followed was a stream of collaborations with diverse artists, such as King Sunny Adé, Manu Dibango, Damon Albarn, Sébastian Tellier and Jimi Tenor amongst others.
The man who Brian Eno described as, “perhaps the greatest drummer that has ever lived” died in hospital in Paris on Wednesday the 30th of April.