Dibango is one of the first worldwide stars to die as a result of COVID-19. The Cameroonian saxophonist and singer blazed a trail for the distinctive funk/soul and jazz sound of his homeland to find global audiences.
Cameroonian singer and saxophonist Manu Dibango has died from a coronavirus infection, according to a message 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.
"His funeral service will be held in strict privacy, and a tribute to his memory will be organized when possible," the message added.
Dibango's music publisher Thierry Durepaire also confirmed the Cameroonian's death. "He died early this morning in a hospital in the Paris region," Durepaire said.
Worldwide hit: 'Soul Makossa'
The veteran afro-jazz star did much to popularize the urban music of Cameroon that is better known as "makossa" (which means dancing), especially through his 1973 global funk-soul hit Soul Makossa.
The song was the B-side of Hymne de la 8e Coupe d'Afrique des Nations, a song that celebrated the Cameroon national football team's appearance in the Africa Cup of Nations football tournament. "Soul Makossa" was later picked up and popularized by New York DJs.
A virtuoso on the saxophone, vibraphone and piano, Dibango was a regular in Germany and last performed at the Africa Würzburg Festival in 2018.
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.
Dibango was outspoken in the fight against music pirating on his home continent, especially since many African musicians have been denied royalties.
"That is a big problem for artists," the saxophonist told DW in 2018. "At some point, someone will have to pay. Who is paying the price? Right now it's the artists."