Music was the live wire of modern Nigerian culture in the 1970s and 1980s. Contemporary Nigerian music performers owe much of their better situations today to the pioneering work and stardom of the group of musicians that held Nigeria spellbound between 1970 and 1980.
The Hykers of Owerri; the Funkees with Jake Solo, Harry Mosco Agada, Sonny Akpan, and the lead guitarist Fela Dey; Founders15 with their massive hit single, “Be My Own”; The Apostles of Aba, featuring Walton Arungwa and Chyke Fusion, whose song, “Drop out” and “Enyim” – a dirge on the Aba Market disaster of 1977 was a dance hall favourite of those years; The Aktion Band that found its paces in Warri, Lasbry Ojukwu’s Semi-Colon band in Umuahia with the immemorial single, “Slim Fit Maggie”; the likes of Dan Ian with monster hits like “Money to Burn” and “Fuel for Love”.
Sonny Okosun, who had lived in Enugu before his transition to Lagos, had a powerful song “Help”; The Wings (Ari Okpala, Spud Nathan Udensi, Charlie Duke, Manford Best, Emma Chinaka, Jerry Demua) whose “Tribute to Spud Nathan” was for many years a schoolboy anthem for my generation; The Black Children with “Love is Fair,” and “Satisfaction”; Wahehe Njoku and his Rock of Ages band; One World whose song “Victory” remains one of the finest songs ever played by a Nigerian group.
The scintillating Sweet Breeze (Nestor Philips, Bazy Cole Akalonu, Vin Ikeotuonye, Jackie Moore Anyaora, and Danny Anyanwu) – those IMT Enugu grads who took the music world by storm with the album that had “Mr & Mrs Fool”, “Palmwine Tapper”, “Igbara Aka Bia Ilum”, etc.
At the Lagos end were such superlative acts like the BLO trio of Berkeley Ike Jones, Laolu Akins, and Mike Odumosu; the Schoolboy band, Ofege, with unforgettable Melvin Ukachi on the vocals. This was of course a prelude to the 1980 eruption of Chris Okotie (“I Need Some”) and Jide Obi (“Front Page News”) straight out of the University of Nigeria, Enugu campus Law School. Dizzy K. Falola, Onyeka Onwenu and Oby Onyioha took the scene by the storm and changed the direction of Nigerian music in 1980.
By Obi Nwakanma.