Manu Dibango, one of the most renowned saxophonists in Africa, has died in Paris after contracting the coronavirus, according to representatives of the musician. He was 86 years old.
Dibango’s career started in the 1950s, and he worked with the likes of Fela Kuti, Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare, and others, and he released dozens of albums through his latest, Balade En Saxo (2013). But he’s perhaps most known for “Soul Makossa” – which along with being popular in its own right, was sampled by Michael Jackson on the Thriller hit “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin.'” That spawned samples by Kanye West and Will Smith as well, along with Busta Rhymes, Arsonists, and The Chemical Brothers. Dibango is one of the first international celebrities to die from the virus.
“He died early this morning in a hospital in the Paris region,” his music publisher Thierry Durepaire said, according to Al-Jazeera.
A message on his official Facebook page confirmed the news.
“His funeral service will be held in strict privacy, and a tribute to his memory will be organized when possible,” the message said.
“It is with deep sadness that we announce you 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 message reads. “His funeral service will be held in strict privacy, and a tribute to his memory will be organized when possible.”
Because of the contagious nature of the coronavirus, funerals in France are being limited to 20 people.