William Onyeabor died in his sleep on Monday. The news was revealed by Luaka Bop, David Byrne’s label that released his music, including the 2013 compilation Who Is William Onyeabor?. Byrne performed the songs of Onyeabor live multiple times, touring as part of the Atomic Bomb! Band. Today, Byrne posted his tribute to the late synth funk pioneer, calling Onyeabor’s recordings, lyrics, messages, and entrepreneurial ambitions “way ahead of their time.”
Byrne also wrote about performing his songs live. “Those shows were some of the best times I’ve ever had on stage,” he wrote. “Onyeabor’s music came to life—it was fresh and transcendent. Everyone felt it. We played it, but he created it.” The note concludes, “Wherever he’s gone, it’s sure to be a place with a lot of heart and some killer grooves. Rest In Peace.” Read the entire thing, which features Luaka Bop’s full obituary for Onyeabor, here.