One of the most memorable concerts I ever saw was by the French-Algerian singer Rachid Taha at the Barbican in 2007. It was loud and raucous and boisterous and energetic. It was fantastic! Halfway through the show the stage was invaded by a seemingly endless procession of girls from the audience who danced along with him. Then later Mick Jones of The Clash appeared on stage to accompany him in a performance of Rock el Casbah. It’s my favourite version. And then last week I heard he had died of a heart attack. He was not quite 60. I’ve been filling my workshop with his music ever since.
Rachid Taha (Arabic: رشيد طه Rashīd Ṭaha; 18 September 1958 – 12 September 2018) was an Algerian singer and activist based in France, described as “sonically adventurous”. His music was influenced by many different styles including rock, electronic, punk and raï… Taha was described as “gregarious” and “quick with a smile” and as a person who liked to party throughout the night… Rachid Taha suffered from Arnold Chiari disease diagnosed in 1987. “I’m tired of people thinking I’m a drunk on stage. While these are the symptoms of Arnold Chiari disease. I’m stumbling because I’m losing my balance. I’m wavering. It generates a disruption in the body.”
Rachid Taha en Algérie, a documentary film by Pascal Forneri.
Probably my favourite Rachid Taha album is Tékitoi from 2004, with Steve Hillage and Brian Eno. The CD package included a DVD with a 45 minute documentary ¿Kienes? Mine came with subtitles. Apologies for the quality, this video file was the best I could find.