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FATAI ROLLING DOLLARS @ ITORI-festour

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Added 9 of March 2013

The Fatai Rolling Dollar legend sounds a genuine semblance to the Ibrahim Ferrer story. Born on the 22nd July, 1928 in Lagos, prince of a royal family, Fatai Olayiwola Olagunju is originally from Ede, a Yoruba town of south western Nigeria lying on the Osun, the river famously linked to Yemoja, the river goddess. He attended schools in Lagos and was later to move to Ede at the age of sixteen, on the death of his father. Showing a rebellious streak at an early age, he allowed himself to be drawn towards music.

In 1957 he formed an eight-piece band called Fatai Rolling Dollar and his African Rhythm Band, and they recorded numerous seven-inch singles for Phillips West Africa Records. In this line-up was a young budding star, Ebenezer Obey, who played Maracas in the band. They had some hits with Phillips, then decamped to Jofabro/EMI where they recorded over one hundred and fifty singles and had many hits for the company including "Sisi Jaiye Jaiye" and "Won Bumi".


Eventually Ebenezer left with six members of the band to form his own group with its own fresh style, adding more instruments including talking drums and slide guitar. Fatai thereafter reformed and renamed the band Fatai Rolling Dollar and his New Millennium Band.

In the late sixties, a sweeping change was going through the Nigerian music scene. A new corps of Nigerian musicians appeared on the scene, in particular Ebenezer Obey and King Sunny Ade, who had both benefited from Fatai's musical inspiration. They took the country by storm as the fortune of musicians like Fatai Rolling Dollar dwindled.

In order to keep afloat in the music business, Fatai decided to start a musical equipment rental service. Obey, on his return from touring abroad, actually helped Fatai by giving him some musical equipment to add to his own stock. Fatai's house was a few doors down from the Kalakuta Republic (a compound) at Moshalashi, owned by the young, up and coming Nigerian superstar, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.

Fela's Kalakuta Republic was situated in the Moshalashi suburb and his celebrated nightclub, The Shrine, also situated in this area at the Empire Hotel. The infamous invasion of the surrounding area of Kalakuta Republic and the consequent inferno that ravaged the lot had devastating consequences for Fatai whose means of livelihood was largely destroyed. Whatever could be savaged of the equipment also ended up in the hands of looters who took advantage of the situation.

With his livelihood in ruins, Fatai moved a few miles away to Mushin, with his wife and five children.


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