Los Angeles, California – Nigerian drummer Babatunde Olatunji passed away Sunday, April 6th, at a hospital in Salinas, California, with his family by his side.
Born and raised in Nigeria, Olatunji was educated at Morehouse College in Atlanta and the New York University Graduate School. In 1959, Columbia Records released Olatunji’s first album, Drums of Passion, which became an unprecedented, across-the-board smash hit. Drums of Passion was the first album to bring African music to Western ears.
Olatunji’s dedication to the preservation and communication of African culture led him to establish the Olatunji Center of African Culture in the heart of Harlem.
In the 1990s, Olatunji was a founding member of Planet Drum, a drums and percussion ensemble that included world renowned musicians from India, South America, the Caribbean and the United States.