Classics, Music

CELEBRATING FELA 20 YEARS AFTER: Fela’s foreign musical adventures, plus his most successful band boys

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UNKNOWN to many, the late world king of Afro music genre, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti had his first foreign musical tour in the summer of 1969.

Leading the Kola Lobitos Band, made up of Tony Allen, Henry Kofi, Isaac Olasugba, Chris Uwaifo, Ofo Keji and Lekan Animashauu a.k.a Baba Ani – who described the United States tour as a very successful trip. “The reception was tremendous,” the baritone saxophonist said.

In subsequent years, Koola Lobitos metamorphosed into Africa ’70 Band as the music witnessed changes that revealed the Afro music genre. As the music grew, Fela’s foreign musical tours became a yearly ritual- as he and his music became irresistible.

However, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and his Egypt 80 band had his musical pilgrimage last in 1992 – when he toured four countries in Europe.

Nonetheless, Fela’s 1988 tour of United State of America ended in disaster as 13 out of his entourage defected. Among them were some of the best crops of instrumentalists he ever had. These defectors are: Odukogbe, the first and the last solo guitarist to have played in any of Fela’s albums. He worked on the solo guitar in Beast of No Nation (BONN) album, and Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense.

Others are Festus Okotie, Emman (a bassist), Solomon Adelanwa, a guitarist, four dancers, singers and five other members of Egypt ’80 Band. Fela Anikulapo-Kuti was said to have felt bad about the abscondment of that large number of his band members. “It was one of his saddest moments,” a source insisted.

Without any iota of doubt, lots of musicians had passed through the stable of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. But out of the lot, a Congolese born tenor saxophonist, Fidelis Bateke (better known as Fidel Bateke) is described as the most successful with his band.

Also, in his class, is a foremost drummer, Tony Allen – who was with Fela in the beginning during the Koola Lobitos days, but left for greener pastures after the 1977 demise of Kalakuta Republic.

Fidel Bateke, we gathered, parted with Fela in 1986, when he went on tour of the United States with Orlando Julius Ekemode.

And few years back, Fidel Bateke was pronounced as Africa’s number one musician in Hollywood. Leading his Bateke Beats Group in California (U.S) Fidel is said to be living in affluence, with every paraphernalia of riches at his beck and call.

In a chat he had on British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) with Nnambi Moweto few years back, Fidel Bateke described Fela as the only total musician and greatest star to emerge from Africa.

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