Malian Guitar Legend Ali Farka Toure Dies at 67

Ali Farka Toure - Photo by Thomas Dorn
Ali Farka Toure – Photo by Thomas Dorn


Bamako, Mali – Ali Farka Toure, an innovator of Malian music died today, in Bamako, the capital of Mali. He had been suffering from bone cancer. Ali Farka Toure was well known in the world music community for his pioneering work in what is now known as Malian blues.

In 1990, Toure abandoned music in order to tend to his farm, in his native Timbuktu. His producer managed to convince him otherwise and to return to his guitar. Two years later, he recorded the famous CD Talking Timbuktu with American guitarist Ry Cooder. The album won a Grammy award.

Ali Farka Toure, who was in his late 60s, won a second Grammy award recently for the album In the Heart of the Moon, recorded with kora player Toumani Diabate.

A two-time GRAMMY Award winner, Ali Farka Toure was an incredible bluesman and instrumentalist — in any language,” said Neil Portnow, president of The Recording Academy today. “His collaborations with Western artists brought his music to a wider audience but without diluting the essence of his culture and heritage. We are so fortunate he was able to join us at last month’s ceremony where he won his second GRAMMY for Best Traditional World Music Album. The world has lost not only a remarkable musician but a true humanitarian.”

According to World Circuit Records and his American label, Nonesuch Records, work had just been completed on a new solo album.

He is survived by his wife and 11 children.