I was very upset to receive a call from Youssou last week telling me of the death of Habib Faye, one of the great musicians of the Super Etoile, of Senegal, and one of the best musicians I have had the pleasure of working with.
Over all the years Youssou and I had done gigs together and from my time in Senegal, Habib stood out as the musical mastermind in Youssou’s band. He was a multi-instrumentalist, arranger, writer, producer and of course, a legendary bass player.
I have so many good memories performing and hanging out with him and the band.
Habib was one of those natural musicians to whom you can play something and they can then play it straight back to you – on keys, bass or guitar, memorising and developing on the fly. He helped Youssou forge a new style of music and dance Mbalax that would be loved around the world. He was a gentle, kind and patient man who like many great artists had a humility about him, always open to ideas from any direction – if they were good.
Jaco Pastorius was one of his bass heroes, but his early influences and his taste in music was surprisingly wide and that showed up in all the range of styles in which he was completely at home.
It was wonderful to see his remarkable talent also being recognised by other artists who wanted some of his magic on their records, whether as a producer, writer or player.
A great musician and a great man – we will all miss you Habib.
– Peter Gabriel