Tony Allen, the pioneering drummer who helped define Afrobeat during his tenure with Fela Kuti, died Thursday evening. He was 79.
“We don’t know the exact cause of death,” manager Eric Trosset said, adding it was not linked to the coronavirus, France 24 reports.
“He was in great shape, it was quite sudden. I spoke to him at 1:00 pm (1100 GMT), then two hours later he was sick and taken to Pompidou hospital where he died.”
As a member of Kuti’s band Africa 70, Allen helped revolutionize the art of drumming, simultaneously anchoring and propelling classic albums like 1973’s Gentleman, 1975’s Expensive Shit, and the Afrobeat legend’s most enduring work, 1976’s Zombie.