Afro-jazz saxophonist Manu Dibango dies from COVID-19

He was best known for the song “Soul Makossa.”

Cameroonian saxophonist and Afro-jazz luminary Manu Dibango has died from COVID-19. He was 86 years old.

Dibango died on Tuesday, March 24 in a hospital in France, where he had lived for some time. His passing was announced on his official Facebook page. The statement also noted that “his funeral service will be held in strict privacy, and a tribute to his memory will be organized when possible.”

Dibango was best known for his 1972 global chart-topper “Soul Makossa,” which was named for the Cameroonian makossa style of music. Michael Jackson quoted its memorable refrain on “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” the opening track of his 1982 classic Thriller. That later led to a lawsuit from Dibango, which the Jackson estate settled out of court.


The news of Dibango’s death comes shortly after the passing of New York pianist Mike Longo, who also died from COVID-19.

RIP, Manu Dibango. Revisit his discography by streaming this 2000 compilation of his music:

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