AT THE OCCASION OF THE THIRD ANNIVERSARY OF TONY ALLEN’S PASSING, DOCTOR L HIS LONG TIME PARTNER AND FRIEND PAYS TRIBUTE TO ONE OF THE LAST CENTURY’S TRUE LEGENDS WITH JAKELEWAH DOCTOR L’S 3 YEARS IN HEAVEN REMIX OUT APRIL 28TH
Tony Allen July 20 1940 – April 30th 2020
Born in Lagos Tony Oladipo Allen was a hugely influential musical figure, most notably as the defining rhythmic engine of Fela Kuti’s sprawling Africa 70 combo – the much-celebrated lodestar of Nigerian Afrobeat.
Allen cut his teeth listening to and playing jazz from a young age. Influenced by American drummers like Art Blakey and Max Roach as well as Ghanaian percussionist Guy Warren, Tony was playing with a number of Lagos jazz and highlife bands when he made the acquaintance of Fela Kuti, whom he would accompany for the next 15 years – first as part of Fela’s Koola Lobitos, and later as part of Africa 70, for which they developed a new musical language, fusing West African rhythms, American funk and jazz into what would later be dubbed Afrobeat.
Allen’s simultaneously kinetic yet counter-intuitive drumming underpinned an extensive catalogue of superb solo works, including a series of classic afrobeat LPs produced by Fela in the 70s, his 1999 avant garde opus ‘Black Voices’, ‘Film of Life’, and his 2017 EP release, a tribute to his hero Art Blakey.
Allen remained a prodigiously engaged and much in-demand musician until the very end, having created innumerable, groove-heavy coalitions with an astonishingly diverse retinue of collaborators that include everyone from Damon Albarn (their shared adventures over the past 2 decades started with the 2002 album ‘Home Cooking’, and continued with Africa Express and The Good, The Bad and the Queen), Charlotte Gainsbourg, Sebastian Tellier, Grace Jones, Oumou Sangaré, and more recently, Detroit techno legend Jeff Mills. Allen’s latest album ‘Rejoice, which was released in late March, is a collaboration with another legend of African music, the late Hugh Masekela.
Sadly passing away in April 2020, just shy of his 80th birthday, he remained a true innovator to the end, with his posthumous album There is No End showing his never-ending commitment to collaboration and experimentation, featuring guests including Skepta, Sampa the Great and Danny Brown.
“Tony is still here, in all of us – in anyone who met him or ever heard his music – and through that he lives on” (Remi Kabaka – Gorillaz)
‘I play yours, you play mine. The music never ends.’ (Tony Allen)
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