Cameroon-born singer and saxophone player Manu Dibango (pictured) has died from a coronavirus infection, according to a statement on his official Facebook page on Tuesday.
“It is with deep sadness that we announce the loss of Manu Dibango, our Papy Groove, who passed away on 24th of March 2020, at 86 years old, further to covid 19,” it said.
Best known for the 1972 hit “Soul Makossa”, he is one of the first worldwide stars to die as a result of COVID-19.
“He died early this morning in a hospital in the Paris region,” his music publisher Thierry Durepaire said.
Dibango arrived in Marseilles in 1949 as a teenager and was made Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur in 2010.
He maintained his energy and love for live performance that defined his 60-year career with a 2019 tour with Symphonic Safari, mixing jazz and classical music.
A message on his official Facebook page confirmed that his death had come after he contracted COVID-19.
“His funeral service will be held in strict privacy, and a tribute to his memory will be organized when possible,” the message said.
The saxophonist was one of the pioneers of Afro jazz and also fused funk with traditional Cameroonian music.
In 2009, he accused Michael Jackson of borrowing one of his hooks for two songs on the legendary “Thriller” album.
Jackson settled out of court.