The Fela Kuti / James Brown Connection

The legendary Fela Kuti, along with his drummer Tony Allen, invented the Afrobeat sound by combining elements of Nigerian pop music, known as High-Life, with influences from American Jazz and Funk. James Brown, in particular, was a major inspiration for Fela.

When Brown toured Nigeria in 1970, his band went to Fela’s club, The Shrine, and told Brown it was the funkiest show they had ever seen. Brown even sent his arranger back to the club to take notes, particularly on Allen’s drumming. By the time Brown released his 1973 album “The Payback”, he was wearing Fela’s influence on his sleeve.

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