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Juju maestro , Sunday Adegeye, popularly known as King Sunny Ade , speaks about his personal life, music, and style, among others
What is the secret behind your youthful look at 73 ?
I have been asked this question several times and I always say it is by the grace of God .
I also believe that my fans made me look like this because they engage me with shows , and on the stage , I dance and jump around .
That is a form of exercise on its own .
I will also say I have been lucky, so I thank God .
My mother also had a unique stature. I neither smoke nor drink.
People believe that musicians often get intoxicated by taking alcohol or drugs before their performances .
What do you take to be so energetic on stage ?
It is difficult for me to explain but I don’ t drug to perform on stage .
It comes naturally to me .
How did you begin your journey into the music industry?
I was told by my mother that I was born on September 22 , 1946 , in Ondo town, but I grew up and schooled in Osogbo (Osun State).
I went to African School, Methodist School, and I also did a bit of my college at St Benedict , and St Charles (all in Osogbo) but I didn’ t finish there because I loved music so much .
I ran away to meet Moses Olaiya , popularly called Baba Sala.
He was a musician but many people didn ’ t know he was one – he played the guitars , accordion and other instruments.
At the time Mose Olaiya diverted from music to theatre , did you join them ?
He did not divert , he only formed another group called Moses Olaiya Travelling Theatre .
He loved theatre but he was not part of them.
The theatre group was a separate department while we, the musicians, were on our own .
Pa Olaiya was the leader of the band, while one of his wives and his brother were handling the theatre .
I had actually spent about three years with them before the formation of the theatre group .
But I was the first to be transferred to the theatre group to handle the music side of it because I played the percussions and other instruments .
I could also dance , so we were the ones that did the opening scenes.
At the time you were there , was your mother not looking for you ?
It was so funny , and I pray none of my children would do that.
I often sent messages to her through drivers in the motor park because she was popular in Osogbo.
She was a caterer and used to cater to about 600 people in a day .
So , I sent a message to her that I was then a student of the University of Lagos , and according to the messenger , my mother jumped up (with joy ) but said that she wanted to hear my voice .
She said since I left home during the holidays , I should also return home during the holidays .
It was not like now when one could just pick up the phone and call the school to confirm .
I often say I’ m one of the luckiest persons.
When did you start your own band ?
I started my band in 1966.
Can you compare music then and now ?
You cannot compare the music of a particular time with another because music keeps evolving .
Music is seasonal .
The future will become current while the current will become the past .
However , at that time , all of us had a passion for music , although it was difficult to do music if your family didn’ t permit you .
The only Nigerian families that allowed their children to do music were those outside the shores of the country.
Then, it was difficult to tell my family ; even my sisters and brothers didn’ t know I had become a musician .
When your mother eventually knew that you were into music , how did she react ?
I later went home to explain myself because I felt I had committed a sin .
I begged God to allow them to forgive me .
So , I went home , very well dressed and with the little money I had.
I was the youngest in the band then, so I had no wife or responsibilities .
Whenever I got money , I saved it . While with the band, I was an errand boy for everybody since I was the youngest .
Whenever we ordered for food , the extra was always mine.
How many years did you spend with Baba Sala ’ s band ?
I was there for about four years.
Who were your contemporaries when you started your band ?
Back then, Baba Sala worked with the Lagos Town Council as a sanitary inspector .
So , it was whenever he had the time that he would join us as the leader of the band, except weekends when he was fully with us .
He had a very good friend then called Chief Tunde Amuwo .
He was so popular and owned a band called , Tunde Amuwo and His High Society Band .
He was the one that usually played for the Action Group in those days .
But when another government took over from the Action Group , his instruments were just idle .
He then called me and said he had instruments at home which he would like to give to me for me to start a band.
But I told him Baba Sala was like a father to me and I couldn ’ t bite the fingers that fed me .
However , some months later , Baba Sala called me and said a friend of his wanted to give me some instruments .
He went on to say opportunities were meant to be grabbed, that I should take the offer and if after nine months , I didn’ t find it easy , I could come back to his band.
I will never forget that day because I was close to tears .
I eventually didn’ t know what to do , and I became sick.
Later, I called one of my roommates, who was also a musician but didn’ t play with our group ( because I didn’ t want to touch the group at all) .
We went to Western Coliseum in Apongbon area of Lagos to check the instruments .
They were exactly like the ones Baba Sala, IK Dairo , Roy Chicago had.
I then decided to give it a try since I had nine months ’ grace. Within me , I decided that even before the expiration of the nine months , I would go back to Baba Sala because I didn ’ t want to lose the band. But today , I have yet to go back .
It took us a month to get a name for the band and members to join.
We eventually called it the High Society Band led by Sunny Ade .
By that time , I could not call my name in full .
Why didn’ t you use your real name?
I didn’ t do that because they would know it was me at home , so I shortened Sunday to Sunny and Adegeye to Ade .
How lucrative was the music business then ?
Back then, everybody that played instruments was passionate about it . It was only the big stars such as IK Dairo , Ayinde Bakare , Tunde Nightingale , Tunde Kings , and JO Araba , that were making money then.
I really didn’ t know how musicians made money then because I was not making money .
However , we were happy because we did the job with passion.
People perceived you and Chief Ebenezer Obey as rivals who always attacked each other with songs .
Why were you always fighting ?
It was the fans that believed we were always fighting .
Obey and I had been friends since we began our bands and we are still friends till date .
He started his band a year before me . Also , we pretended to be fighting in order for our fans to enjoy our music .
Then, we used to play at night clubs , and where he was playing wasn’ t far from where I played.
I recall that the fans would go and
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