Tony Allen passed Paris April 30, and he is credited for creating the genre of Afrobeat. Let that sink in. Creator of a genre. How many can claim that? This week we are paying tribute to Tony with a series of performance videos. Check out “Asiko” Recorded Live at The Mayan Theatre on July 21st, 2013 and follow #dttvtonyallen to see more as we publish them.
Tony Oladipo Allen was born in 1940 in Lagos. In 1964 he became a member of Fela Kuti’s “Koola Lobitos” highlife-jazzband. In 1969, following a turbulent and educational trip to the United States, Fela developed a new sound, mixing soul with jazz, highlife, and the polyrhythmic patterns of Yoruba music.
Tony invented the rhythms that underpinned this new groove called Afrobeat. Allen recorded over 30 albums with Fela and his band Africa ’70, arguably Fela’s best works. But by the late 1970s, dissension was growing in the ranks of the band. Arguments over royalties/pay, and recognition grew in intensity. Allen chose to leave Africa ’70, taking many members with him. Tony moved on by himself, once again in search of his own sound. In 1984 he emigrated to London, later moving to Paris. After fusing Afrobeat with electronica, dub, R&B, and rap referred to as afrofunk, he returns to his Afrobeat-roots with the album ‘Lagos No Shaking’ recorded live in Lagos in 2006. Tony Allen has influenced a range of artists across a number of genres. One of them, Damon Albarn sings: “Tony Allen got me dancing”.
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