French-Algerian musician Rachid Taha, known for fusing Algerian raï folk music with rock, has died. He was 59.
Taha died of a heart attack at his home in the Lilas suburb of Paris, according to a statement from his family and label Naïve Records.
Born in Algeria, Taha moved to Lyon, France, at the age of 10, where he spent his youth among the working-class immigrant community that surrounded the city. He helped form the punk band Carte de Sejour in the mid-’80s.
Taha told the New York Times that he bumped into the Clash on the street, after playing a concert at the Théâtre Mogador in Paris, and handed them a demo of Carte de Sejour’s music. The band would go on to release “Rock the Casbah,” which features a similar sound to Taha’s band, just a year later.
He had a worldwide hit with the song “Ya Rayah,” which referenced the immigrant experience.
Following his stint as frontman for Carte de Sejour, Taha began pursuing a solo career in 1989, releasing his first album, “Barbès,” in 1991 and his own cover of “Rock the Casbah” — titled “Rock El Casbah” — in 2004. Taha dropped his last album, “Zoom,” in 2013. According to AP, he recently finished recording a new album that was set for release in 2019.