Tony Oladipo Allen popularly known as Tony Allen was a legendary drummer, who created afrobeat along with his old bandmate Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Born on August 12, 1940, Allen taught himself to play drums from the age of 18, drawing inspiration from American jazz greats Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker as well as contemporary African music. He was later to become the musical director of Fela’s band ‘Africa ’70’ in the 1960s and 1970s. During that time, the pair created afrobeat, combining West African musical styles such as highlife and fuji music with American imports jazz and funk. Afrobeat went on to become one of the totemic genres of 20th century African music.
It was over Tony Allen’s thrilling beat that Fela laid out his revolutionary and pan-African message, which led him to become one of the abiding icons of the struggle for freedom across the continent. Allen and Fela recorded around 40 albums together in Africa ’70 Band, before parting ways after a mythic 26-year collaboration.
|TONY ALLEN WITH FELA ANIKULAPO KUTI & AFRICA '70 IN THE STUDIO|
Tony Allen has remained hugely influential and beloved by generations of musicians both in Nigeria and abroad. Allen was the drummer in the supergroup The Good, the Bad & the Queen, also featuring Blur singer Damon Albarn and The Clash bassist Paul Simonon, which released its second album in 2018.
|TONY ALLEN ON STAGE|
Tony Allen lived in the Paris suburb of Courbevoie in France until his death on Thursday April 30, 2020.