There are few musicians in the world who have left behind as great of a legacy as Fela Kuti. Born Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti in Abeokuta, Nigeria on October 15, 1938, Fela went on to become one of the most famous musicians and cultural icons in Africa.
Fela Kuti grew up in a family of activists and musicians. His mother, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, was a feminist and fought against British colonialism, while his father was a minister and music composer. Fela was sent to London in 1958 to study medicine but ended up pursuing music instead. He spent time in various bands and eventually decided to focus on his own music.
By the late 1960s, Fela had formed his own group, which he called Koola Lobitos. They played a fusion of highlife, jazz, and funk music. Fela’s music was heavily influenced by African rhythms and political messages. In 1969, he traveled to the United States, where he was introduced to the Black Power movement and met musician Sandra Isidore, who greatly influenced his political activism.
Throughout the 1970s, Fela’s music and political activism became intertwined. He renamed his band to Africa 70 and started to create a genre he called “Afrobeat,” which combined traditional African rhythms with funk and jazz. Fela’s songs often criticized the Nigerian government and its corruption, leading to frequent arrests and clashes with authorities.
Fela’s discography includes over 70 albums, with some of his most famous works being “Zombie,” “Expensive Shit,” and “Gentleman.” He was also known for his elaborate live shows, which often lasted for hours and included political speeches and performances by his dancers, called the “Queens.”
Fela was married to 27 women at the same time, some of whom were his dancers and band members. He had a total of 39 children. Fela was known for his unconventional lifestyle, which included smoking marijuana, practicing polygamy, and not wearing clothes on stage. He passed away on August 2, 1997, at the age of 58, due to complications from AIDS.
Fela Kuti’s net worth is estimated to be around $20 million in US dollars, ₦7.6 billion in Nigerian Naira, C$26.6 million in Canadian dollars, GH₵108.7 million in Ghanaian Cedi, KSh2.2 billion in Kenyan shillings, R285.2 million in South African rand, USh73.9 billion in Ugandan shillings, and ₹1.5 billion in Indian rupees. His influence on African music and culture is immeasurable, and his music continues to inspire generations of musicians and fans around the world.
|Fela Fela Fela||1965|
|The ’69 Los Angeles Sessions||1969|
|Shuffering and Shmiling||1978|
|Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense||1986|
If you’re interested in listening to Fela’s music, you can find his discography and other popular African musicians on Boomplay. You can also follow his legacy on his official Facebook and Twitter accounts.