Great People

King Sunny Ade Clocks 74

Legendary Nigerian musician, King Sunny Ade (KSA) has turned 74. His meritorious juju music career spans 53 years. KSA whose real name is Sunday Adegeye has made a mark in the Nigerian music echelon with his brilliant guitar synchronicity with drums, poetic lyrics, praise songs, fluid dance steps and boundless energy. He is also known for consistency, longevity, proverbial music and vast collaborative instrumental variety.

King Sunny Ade was born into a royal family on 22nd September 1946 in Osogbo, Osun State, Nigeria. His father was a church organist while his mother, Maria Adegeye (née Adesida), was a trader. He started his musical career in the year 1960 when he came to Lagos. He was influenced by the music style of the late Tunde Nightingale, another respected Juju musician. In 1967, he formed his band known as ‘The Green Spots’ and later changed their name to ‘African beats’.  After many memorable albums and performances, he changed the name of his band to the “Golden Mercury”. He introduced the pedal steel guitar to Nigerian pop-music, and the use of vibraphone, clarinet with tenor guitar into Juju music.

He is one of the first African pop musicians to succeed internationally and is therefore regarded as “King of Juju” and “Africa’s Bob Marley”. In the 1970s and 1980s Adé embarked on a tour of America and Europe. His stage act was characterised by dexterous dancing steps and mastery of the guitar. Adé was described in The New York Times as “one of the world’s great band leaders”, in Record as “a breath of fresh air, a positive vibration we will feel for some time to come” and in Trouser Press as “one of the most captivating and important musical artists anywhere in the world”. After more than a decade of resounding success in his native Nigeria, Adé was received to great acclaim in Europe and North America in 1982. The global release of Juju Music and its accompanying tour was “almost unanimously embraced by critics (if not consumers) everywhere”. 

In recent times, hip hop music appears to be holding sway with the electronic media in Nigeria with massive airplays. Nonetheless, Sunny Adé’s musical output has continued to inspire a vast generation of other Nigerian musicians, who believe in the big band musical set up which Sunny Adé and late Fela Kuti are noted for. In 2008, his contributions to world music was recognized; as he was given an award for his outstanding contribution to world music at the International Reggae and World Music Awards held at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York.

King Sunny Ade is a recipient of the Order of the Federal Republic and also a visiting lecturer at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. He is the founder of King Sunny Ade foundation, an organization set up to groom young musicians. He is the first Nigerian to be inducted into Hard Rock Cafe’s Hall of fame. He has received so many awards and titles.

He has featured in few Hollywood movies like O.C and Stiggs, Fifty etc. Some of his songs include: Merciful God, Aiye Nreti Eleya mi, Synchro system, Congratulations, Ja Funmi, Eri Okan, Ma Jaiye Oni, Orisun Iye, Juju music and so on.

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