Sheik Fall, a Renaissance man from Byram, is dead

Percussionist, chef, artist, philanthropist touched many lives

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  • Sheik Fall on the drums Photos provided

  • At Carnegie Hall with fellow musicians in 2008

  • Sheik with his wife Jennifer and son Noah

  • Mohamed Tidjane ‘Sheik’ Fall, dead at 55

  • Father, son and percussion


— The world of art and music suddenly lost yet another precious soul last week. Mohamed Tidjane ‘Sheik’ Fall, of Byram, was a husband, father, percussionist, chef and artist with the unique and seemingly mystical ability to touch people’s lives in a myriad of ways.

Fall died suddenly of natural causes on May 14. He was 55.

Fall was very active in the artistic and musical communities, whether it was bringing people together for drum circles or showcasing his paintings at galleries and other venues. He was always highly motivated and spiritually driven to make others see the best in themselves and to do good for others.

In 2010, Sheik met his soulmate, Jennifer Tacinelli of Randolph at Marrakesh Restaurant in Pine Brook where Fall was drumming.

“We instantly connected," she said. "We were inseparable. We did everything together. He was my strength where I was weak and I was his."

A few years later they welcomed their son, Noah, into the family.

“Our love was once in a lifetime,” Jennifer said. "Magical and passionate even after 8 years. He was my true other half.”

Jennifer said Fall worked very hard to provide for his family, working 2 and 3 jobs at a time.

“Everyone from the Sparta and Hopatcong Farmer’s Markets, the Teen Arts Program at Sussex County Community College and patrons of the local art and music scene knew and loved my husband," she said. "He counseled everyone he met to be a better person. He loved life and family was most important to him. He was kind, generous, debonair and a healer."

Friends, patrons and colleagues are still trying to come to terms with a life that ended too soon.

“He had so much more to do,” said friend and fellow musician Stephen “Muddy” Shews. "It’s just not fair. He was truly one of a kind.”

Sheik Fall was from Senegal, Africa and was an accomplished boxer and drummer for his local town. He would speak to other towns and tribes through the art of drumming. He was also a self-taught painter with a talent for depicting his dreams and visions. He also was very talented with computers, collecting and fixing them and sending them to impoverished areas of Africa. He had just gotten his Civil Service License and was looking forward to working at the post office.

Jennifer and Sheik also found time to volunteer and foster with Ferndog Animal Rescue since 2013.

Close friend and fellow percussionist Dewey Ribustello was also shocked and deeply saddened by the loss.

”We lost one of the nicest people in this world as we know it," he said. "Sheik had such a zest for life and love which he spread to literally thousands of people in his life of 55 years. I feel blessed to have met him and to have spent some of my most joyous moments in my life with him and his family. He leaves behind an amazing wife and little boy who he absolutely adored and who I am proud to call part of my close friends and extended family.”

Friend Maria Cicchino said, “He never rested. He was either drumming, cooking, bringing people together with parties, drum circles and music, making candles from rocks, painting and having art shows for charity, collecting objects and clothes to donate to Africa, all the while working 3 jobs. He always took care of his family as well as his friends. Giving to others made him happy. I related all the rain we had this past week as the world crying that he left us too soon.”

In the fall of 2008, Sheik experienced a musician’s dream, playing at Carnegie Hall in NYC with Future Now recording artist Danny Nova. Sheik played alongside drummer Liberty Devitto (30 years with Billy Joel), keyboardist Andy Burton of Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul, bass player Muddy Shews who toured with Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Peter Wood (guitarist for NJ-based band Dramarama), NYC violinist Deni Bonet, percussionist and artist Ibou Ndoye and several other singers and percussionists.

“There are just so many stories and memories to decipher through I don’t know where to begin….I guess that’s good,” said Nova, deeply moved by the loss of his dear friends.

“I just got word that my friend and fellow musician Sheik Fall has left us very suddenly,” Shews said in a Facebook Post. “He was my friend, spiritual guide and a brilliant artist. We played Carnegie Hall together. He is the reason why I married my soulmate. I enjoyed many drum circles he hosted over the years. He was a very rare gem.”

Ndoye spoke about Sheik’s spirit. “He was a real artist," he said. "Not only sensitive and responsive to his family and friends’ needs but to humanity. His subject matter in his art was mostly people. He painted them in all forms and colors with smiles on their faces because that is how he saw the world."

Ndoye said Fall was always acting older than his age.

"I think he was a wise man living ahead of his time. As the African proverb says: ‘A wise man who dies is like a library that burns down. You are not gone, your voice is mixing with the songs of the drums. You are still among us but hiding somewhere.’"

Fall is survived by his wife, Jennifer and 3 year old Noah, as well as family in Senegal.

To donate to the Fall family please visit ‘Sheik needs your support’ at

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