Nigeria’s Highlife Music Legend Victor Olaiya Passes On At Age 89
Nigerian music legend, Victor Olaiya has passed on 13th February 2020 at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital. Olaiya ruled the airwaves in the 1950s and early 1960s with a sound heavily inspired by Ghanaian highlife.
As reported by The Nation, it was the legend’s record label Evergreen Music Company that announced his passing.
“The entire music world wish to announce the death of a Legend of Highlife music, One of the last man standing, the last of the original Dr Victor Abimbola Olaiya OON. We pray that the soul of the Doyen of highlife music finds repose with his creator while wishing the family and entire music community the fortitude to bear this irreplaceable loss.” Evergreen Music Company said as reported by The Nation.
Olaiya was born on December 31, 1930, in Calabar, Cross River State. He was the 20th child of a large family of 24 as he was from an affluent home.
At an early age, he learned to play the Bombardon and the French Horn. In 1951, he passed the school certificate examination and got accepted by Howard University in the United States to study Civil Engineering.
However, Olaiya pursued a career as a musician instead which met the disapproval of his parents.
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He played with the Sammy Akpabot Band and also led and played the trumpet for the Old Lagos City Orchestra. Later he joined the Bobby Benson Jam Session Orchestra.
In 1954 Olaiya formed his own band, The Cool Cats, playing popular highlife music. His band was chosen to play at the state ball when Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom visited Nigeria in 1956.
Also, he played at the State’s Balls when Nigeria became independent in 1960 and when Nigeria became a republic in 1963.
Olaiya renamed his band to the All-Stars Band when they played the 1963 International Jazz Festival in Czechoslovakia. He is survived by his many wives, children, and grandchildren.
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