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Obituaries

African jazz great Manu Dibango dies of illness linked to coronavirus

Saxophonist Manu Dibango performs in Paris on Jan. 24, 2018.
Saxophonist Manu Dibango performs in Paris on Jan. 24, 2018.
(Christophe Ena / Associated Press)

Manu Dibango, who fused African rhythms with funk to become one of the most influential musicians in world dance music, died Tuesday of an illness linked to the coronavirus, according to his music publisher. He was 86.

The Cameroon-born saxophonist, who gained international fame with his 1972 song “Soul Makossa,” died in a hospital in the Paris region, Thierry Durepaire said.

Dibango was hospitalized with an illness “linked to COVID-19,” his official Facebook page said last week.

“Soul Makossa” was one of the earliest hits in the nascent world music scene, including a catchy hook copied by some of the world’s biggest pop stars.

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In 2009, Dibango filed a lawsuit against Michael Jackson and Rihanna, claiming they had stolen his music in “Wanna Be Startin’ Something” and “Don’t Stop the Music,” respectively. Jackson settled out of court.

Funeral services were to be “held in strict privacy” followed by a tribute “when possible,” Tuesday’s announcement said. Funerals in France have been limited to 20 people n the closest circle of the deceased because of a lockdown to try to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Dibango is survived by four children.


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