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Soul Makossa king Manu Dibango celebrates 80th birthday with RFI

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Manu Dibango RFI

Afro-jazz giant Manu Dibango celebrated his 80th birthday with RFI on Thursday, appearing throughout the day on our French-language broadcasts. The French-based Cameroon-born musician, whose Soul Makossa was a global hit in the 1970s, has recorded a new album, Manu Dibango: balade en saxo.


Soul Makossa may date back to 1972 but it is still played on radios worldwide and Dibango made an out-of-court settlement with King of Pop Michael Jackson for his use of the song's most famous riff on his album Thriller.

A later case against Barbadian singer Rihanna for using it, with the Jackson estate's premission, in Don't Stop The Music failed because of the previous settlement.

RFI payed tribute to him on Thursday both on the airwaves and on its website in French, which featured graphics, interviews and, of course, music.

Born in Douala, Dibango was sent to France to study in 1949, already proficient at singing and piano playing.

In the eastern French city of Reims he discovered the saxophone, which became his instrument of choice.

In the 1960s and 70s he performed in Paris, Brussels and Kinshasa and Soul Makossa's success anabled him to go to the US.

His latest album pays tribute to musicians who inspired him, such as Dizzy Gillespie, and French artists, like Nino Ferrer, with whom he played.

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