African jazz icon Manu Dibango died in France after contracting coronavirus. The saxophone legend was 86-years-old when he passed away on Tuesday, March 24.
The Cameroon native is one of the first worldwide stars to die from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
“He died early this morning in a hospital in the Paris region,” his music publisher Thierry Durepaire allegedly said.
His death was confirmed by Dibango’s official Facebook page.
“Dear family, dear friends, dear fans, 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 announcement stated that Dibango’s funeral service “will be held in strict privacy, and a tribute to his memory will be organized when possible. If you wish to express your condolences, please write to the following email: email@example.com.”
Manu Dibango had a hit with Soul Makossa in 1972
Manu Dibango’s style fused jazz and funk music with traditional sounds from Cameroon. He was best known for his 1972 hit, Soul Makossa.
He also had a hit with a song supporting the Cameroon football team in the African Cup of Nations. The tune was subsequently picked up and popularized by New York DJs.
Born in 1933 in Douala, Cameroon, when the country was still under French colonial rule, Dibango enjoyed a musical career that spanned six decades and included working with notable stars such as South Africa’s Ladysmith Black Mambazo and American jazz great Herbie Hancock.
In 2009 he filed a lawsuit against Michael Jackson, accusing the American singer of stealing a hook from his hit Soul Makossa. Dibango claimed Jackson used the musical passage for two songs on the world’s best-selling album, Thriller. Jackson settled the case out of court.
Tributes have been posted on Twitter for Manu Dibango
Tributes have come flooding in on Twitter for Dibango, with many users emphasizing his importance, not just to his country, but to “humanity as a whole.”
R.I.P Manu Dibango 🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿
words cannot express who you are and what you represent to this country and humanity as a whole .
The first of its kind.
Gone but never forgotten
Rest Easy Big G
Love Always ❤️ pic.twitter.com/Hg9jhtKzLq
— JØVÍ aka VIZŪ (@JoviLeMonstre) March 24, 2020
Other social media users reminisced about their time spent with the musical legend.
Forever grateful for this man. For ALL he did for US. Papa Manu Dibango va en paix. pic.twitter.com/MR5AUa892J
— Diane Audrey Ngako (@Voodart) March 24, 2020
French Culture Minister Franck Riester also paid tribute to him on Twitter.
“The world of music has lost one of its legends,” he wrote.
At present, celebrities who have contracted the illness caused by the novel coronavirus include Idris Elba, who is in self-quarantine after falling ill a couple of weeks ago. Meanwhile, Tom Hanks contracted the virus while filming in Australia. Both are thought to be in recovery.