Tuesday, 1 November 2016

The KSA Memoir: My dirty fights with Emperor Pick Peters + Dirty things band boys did to me


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KSA being signed by management of African Songs Ltd and Chief Bolarinwa Abioro 


“I could not release an album at that time because my contract with African Songs had not run out.  It was Admiral Dele Abiodun, who released an album which Abioro and the public assumed was a response to Pick Peters’ – on my behalf.  The truth is I did not ask anybody to respond on my behalf because there was nothing to respond to.  

 The assumption that Dele Abiodun spoke for me was strengthened by the similarity between his voice and mine.  Some even alleged that I was the one who sang the song.  I could not have because there was never any quarrel between Emperor Pick Peters and me.I did not even get to meet him until months after I had quit African Songs.  The first time we met was in Ondo, during Ogun Day.  A man came to greet me but his face did not look familiar.  I am sure he must have been surprised at the lack of any hint of recognition in my response to his greeting.  He introduced himself as Emperor Pick Peters.  I greeted him warmly, offered him a seat and we discussed.  I never quarreled with Pick Peters or any other musician.  Never!  Could I have quarreled with a man I had not met?
KSA's work 'Ogun' where he praised-sing his former boss, Chief Bolarinwa Abioro
 Ebenezer Obey and I…
The case of Chief Ebenezer Obey was even more stunning.  He is more of an elder brother than a fellow musician and I usually went to him for advice.  Yet, many concluded that we were enemies and read meanings into our songs.  If I sang, it was so because we emerged at the same time and people thought we should be bitter rivals.  Record dealers probably helped in perpetrating the imaginary feud because sales usually shot up when fans were expecting their favorites’ response to alleged attack in a rival’s record. While feuds between artistes were rampant in those days, Obey and I were never involved.  This may be difficult to believe, as it was for some people who were close to both of us.  More about this later


“I explained that the people encouraging them to quit did not have jobs to offer them and that if they wanted to work in the US, they should return to Nigeria first and come back to look for employment opportunities since they still had valid visas.  Lastly, I said if their plans did not work out, they could return to my band.
But the guys were far too gone in their plan to live in America.  I wished them luck.  Their plans did not work and they returned to join Sir Shina Peters, who later sacked them”.
KSA being signed by management of African Songs Ltd and Chief Bolarinwa Abioro
The Easy Motion War with Fatai Rolling Dollars…
What could pass for a disagreement with an artiste happened a few years ago, when Pa Fatai Rolling Dollar accused me of using his material without permission.  Rollin Dollar is old enough to be my father and the matter has been resolved.  But I am saying it categorically that the song in question does not belong to Fatai Rolling Dollar, but to J.O. Araba (of blessed memory) When I sang the song, members of Araba family came to me and explained everything to me.  I used one of the songs in my albums abroad, but I could not locate them at that time until they contacted me.  I even mentioned it in one of my radio interviews when I was the President, Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), that we should know every musician’s family in case there is a need to contact them.  For example, there was a time we were looking for the picture of Cardinal Rex Lawson for five years and nobody could come up with one. The only picture they had was the one on the sleeve of the album he recorded with Phillips Music.  Eventually, it was his son who provided us with a picture.


I did not respond to Rolling Dollar, but the family of J.O Araba did.  That is how the matter was laid to rest. My lawyers and J.O. Araba’s family have since met and drawn up a settlement agreement for using that song.
KSA with Chief Bolarinwa Abioro on their first trip to London in 1971 before their mutual crisis began
‘The 1985 Japanese earthquake’…
Tokyo, Japan, 1985:  Ten years after my band was rocked by defection arising from the contractual crisis with African Songs Limited, I suffered a similar fate.  It was a massive crisis that threatened the existence of the band.  We were invited to Japan for a charity concert in aid of the victims of the famine in Ethiopia.  The Japanese government was responsible for our transportation.  To this end, a total of 30 tickets were issued to the band.  But the band was travelling with only 26 members, so there were four extra tickets.  Of the extra tickets, I gave one to my brother because he was an electrical appliance dealer in Benin.  I also gave one to my neighbor, Mr. Odebunmi and one to another friend.  We travelled to Tokyo through London, where we left some of our equipment for repairs.  But no sooner had we got to Tokyo than my band members started acting funny.

The change in attitude arose from a rumor which began before we left for Japan.  It was rumored that Panasonic, manufacturers of electronics which sponsored the band on the tour, had promised to give 200 video recorders 100 television sets to the band.  I told the band that the story was untrue.  They apparently did not believe me, particularly because my brother was with us.  They thought his purpose for travelling was to collect the video recorders and television sets for sale in his shop back home.

We played successfully on the tour.  A day before we were to leave Japan for Nigeria, via London, an amount of money was paid to us. I showed everyone the money, telling them it was an unexpected bonus.  I reminded them that we needed to take our equipment in London back to Nigeria.  We took the equipment to London as part of our luggage and the agreement was that we would also take them back to Nigeria as luggage.  For this reason, I suggested that we should split the money into two, set aside one half as payment for instrument repairs and the other half to be shared among ourselves.  They agreed with the suggestion.  However, they changed on the way and decided that we should share all the money and set nothing aside.  Some of them even told me that they were going to spend a few days in London with their friends.

I said that was fine, but reminded them that we had been booked for a show the following week.  With almost everyone wishing to remain in London, it was clear that nobody wanted to bring the instruments back to Nigeria.  The instruments in London were our best instruments.  I suggested that we should contribute money to bring down the instruments, but they refused and insisted that the money should be shared.  We shared the money equally because we were on tour.  In Nigeria, I got more than my band members because the band played with my instruments and used my vehicles to take them around.  Despite their insistence on remaining in London, I still thought they were joking until they made me realize that they had their passports with them.
KSA with his band boys at Trafalgar Square in London
I left London in anger and returned home.  The implication was that the instruments remained in London and still do up till now.  I bought new instruments and decided to reorganize the band.  That was why I renamed it King Sunny Ade and His New African Beats.  Four months after, those who stayed back in London heard that I had reorganized the band and they started sending people to beg me to reabsorb them.  Some sent their wives and I said if they wanted re-absorption, those in London should bring back our equipments.  I also said that I wanted to know their reasons for seeking re-absorption.  I ignored all the pleas on their behalf, explaining that I told them that the rumor they reacted to was unfounded.  I added that I gave them the names of the agents and managers who got us to play in Japan in case they wanted to confirm if television sets and video recorders should have been given to the band.
KSA...Found both a friend and a foe in Chief Bolarinwa  Abioro
For that reason, I said whoever wanted to come back must write an application, stating what exactly he wanted.  The problem then, and now, is that when you go on tour, many people tell these boys that the terms of their engagement should be better like what happens overseas.  With these sweet talks, the boys come to you to demand a change in their terms of employment.  Some of them told me that they wanted new contracts and I said if that was the case, they should meet their managers to write a proposal to that effect.  Alternatively, I asked them to draw up an agreement.  One of them, Ademola Adepoju, told me that his white girlfriend who was a musician told him that she was under an hourly contract.  I asked him if he wanted the agreement to begin while we were on tour or in Lagos.  He said both.  I advised him to go and sleep over it.  He eventually brought a proposal to me in London.  The drummer, Moses Akanbi, also said he wanted a new salary immediately we returned home.
KSA...The boy is the father of the man
When I bought new instruments, I invited professionals from overseas to help put them in shape.  As much as I could, I tried to keep the matter away from the public.  However, the matter got to the public domain and into the newspapers when people came to my shows and did not see them because those who returned with me rarely came for shows.  Some of them re-applied to the band. But their letters were more of letters of apology than applications. They were reabsorbed, but not on formal contracts, as we did not need any contracts because that would require so many terms that would remove the informality that created something close to a bond in a family.
KSA...The Father of Modern Juju Music
Lessons from the School of Baba Sala…
My usual practice was to advise anyone who wanted to leave the band to think very well before taking a decision.  I learnt this from Moses Olaiya.  On a tour of the U.S, Segun Ilori and Niyi Falaye came to me and demanded that I returned their passports to them because they had decided not to return to Nigeria.  I advised them against it and asked if they wanted to set up their own band or quit music outright.  Whatever it was, I explained that they should give me adequate notice so that I could shop for replacements.  I explained that the people encouraging them to quit did not have jobs to offer them and that if they wanted to work in the US, they should return to Nigeria first and come back to look for employment opportunities since they still had valid visas.  Lastly, I said if their plans did not work out, they could return to my band.
One of KSA's works for Chief Bolarinwa Abioro's African Songs Ltd Record Label
But the guys were far too gone in their plan to live in America.  I wished them luck.  Their plans did not work and they returned to join Sir Shina Peters, who later sacked them.  Segun returned to the band, but he messed up again and was kicked out in 1992.

If all the crises were related to music or business, 1991 came with a difference.  That year, I suffered a serious health crisis that it was even speculated that I was dead.  While I thank God that I did not die, I can also say that I was a shot away from that.

(Excerpts from the book; KSA: My Life, My Music by King Sunny Ade. Read ‘My famed war with Emperor Pick Peters & Others’ tomorrow on this blog)

Gbenga Dan Asabe

Africa's Number One Celebrity Encounter Blog

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