The rebellious and iconic Algerian singer Rachid Taha has passed away because of a heart attack at the age of 59. He was not just any singer, he was the face of the French rock scene in the eighties of the last century. But who is Rachid Taha?
Who is Rachid Taha?
Rachid Taha was born in 1958 in Algeria. At the age of 10, he emigrated with his family to France. As a teen he was interested in music, more specifically in rai music, salsa and funk. He started working many different jobs, from selling encyclopedias to washing dishes and working in a power station. At night he would DJ in underground clubs. Taha was not only active in mixing Arabic music with funk and salsa, but he would write poetry as well.
His music career
In 1983, Taha established the rock band ‘Carte de Séjour’ together with some other artists. They made music to the lyrics of The Clash and songs by Linton Kwesi Johnson. The group had a hard time becoming successful and ended up making songs that expressed their anger about how immigrants are being treated and how bad the work conditions are. Taha moved to Paris to pursue a solo career. His first album ‘Barbès’ was selling bad. His big success came when he started working with the English musician Steve Hillage. After that he published many other albums produced by Steve Hillage. He made covers of Algerian, Moroccan and Egyptian songs and introduced traditional instruments like the oud in the western pop and rock music. His very first successful song was ‘Ya Rayah’. It was a bestseller around the world and was played by DJ’s all over Europe.
In 1998 Taha joined the at that time most famous North African artists Cheb Khaled and Cheba Fadela at the “1,2,3 Soleils” concerts. There, it became clear that Taha’s take on the rai music was totally different from the rest. Over the years he became much more famous and well-known in the music scene.
Sadly, we will not be able to enjoy new works from this great artist. However, we know that Rachid Taha’s music will stay alive for a long time and will keep on inspiring people all over the world.