One of the pioneers of Afro-funk music, the saxophonist Manu Dibango, has died of COVID-19. He was 86 years old, and died in Paris. Internationally, he was best known for his 1972 song “Soul Makossa,” though his entire oeuvre could have been the soundtrack to a cooler 1970s than most people lived. But that one, funk-drenched hit, lit by Dibango’s burning saxophone, went on to influence the sound of American disco — and its hooky spoken intro helped power songs by Michael Jackson and Rihanna.
Dibango’s death was announced on social media by his representatives, who said that he died March 24th at age 86 due to the coronavirus; they had also announced last Wednesday that he had been hospitalized due to the pandemic. A public memorial will be “organized when possible,” the announcement said.