Manu Dibango Dies: ‘Soul Makossa’ Artist Had Coronavirus Complications, Was 86

Saxophonist Manu Dibango died at the age of 86, suffering from coronavirus covid-19 Tuesday, March 24, 2020, his family announced. Senior of the African musicians of Paris, godfather of the world music, Manu Dibango celebrated his 80 years of a life without border and 60 years of an astonishing career at Paris Jazz Festival, in Paris at Floral Garden in June 2014. Paris, FRANCE - 24/03/2020 (Sipa via AP Images) AP Images

Manu Dibango, who brought African rhythms to Western popular music through his 1972 hit Soul Makossa, died from complications of the coronavirus, according to his official Facebook page.

“It is with deep sadness that we announce the loss of Manu Dibango, our Papy Groove, who passed away on 24th of March 2020, at 86 years old, further to covid 19,” the Facebook post said in French.

“His funeral service will be held in strict privacy, and a tribute to his memory will be organized when possible,” the message added.

Dibango died in a hospital near Paris, according to his music publisher Thierry Durepaire, Agence France-Presse reported.

The Cameroon-born artist and saxophonist was considered one of the pioneers of Afro jazz. He also melded funk and traditional music rom Cameroon.

Soul Makossa was something of an accidental hit. It was the B-side of a song to support the Cameroon soccer team in the African Cup of Nations. But New York DJs picked up on it, and it soon went radio viral.

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