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Tony Allen, Afrobeat Drummer, Dies at 79

Nigerian drummer Tony Allen appears on the Park stage on the final day of the Glastonbury festival near Pilton, Somerset on June 27, 2010. Celebrating it's 40th anniversary this year, the festival showcases some of the world's best artists from all areas of music and performance. This year's headline acts on the main stage at Glastonbury include Muse, Gorillaz and Stevie Wonder. AFP PHOTO/Leon Neal (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP via Getty Images)

Tony Allen, the Afrobeat drummer who was known for working with Fela Kuti, has died. He was 79 years old.

“We don’t know the exact cause of death. 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,” Allen’s manager, Eric Trosset, told France 24. Trosset added that the cause of death was unknown, but not related to COVID-19

Born on Aug. 12, 1940, Allen played with Kuti for 26 years and was the musical director of his band, Africa ’70. Together, they recorded around 40 albums.

In his later years, Allen worked with the likes of Damon Albarn, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Joan as Police Woman and Air. He was the drummer for The Good, The Bad & The Queen with Albarn and The Clash bassist Paul Simonon. He appeared on both of the band’s albums.

Brian Eno had the highest praise for Allen, calling him “perhaps the greatest drummer who ever lived.” Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers echoed that sentiment, sharing in an Instagram post that he considered Allen “one of the greatest drummers to ever walk this earth.”

He lived in Paris in his later years.