Fatai Rolling Dollar dies: Nigeria's Jonathan pays tribute

  • 13 June 2013
  • From the section Africa
Fatai Olayiwola Olagunju, known as Fatai Rolling Dollar in Lagos, Nigeria, on 25 August 2011

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan has paid tribute to veteran highlife musician Fatai Rolling Dollar who died on Wednesday.

The guitarist and singer had "enthralled his teeming followers" during a career of more than 64 years, Mr Jonathan said.

Fatai was best known for his song, They Cannot Match Us, which criticised younger generations.

The exact cause of Fatai's death, or his age, is not known.

He died after more than 10 days in a coma, and was aged either 85 or 87, Nigeria's This Day newspaper reports.

But he was still touring the US tour just a few weeks ago.

In highlife's golden era in the 1950s and 1960s, Fatai, whose real name was Fatai Olagunju, was a nationally celebrated performer.

But he then disappeared from the music scene for about 25 years and battled poverty in Lagos before making a comeback in the past decade.

Musician Ade Bantu told the BBC that Fatai had lost none of his talent and was still entertaining on stage.

"You are talking about a gentlemen in his 80s still performing and recording and playing very well - he was like a metronome."


Mr Jonathan believed the vacuum Fatai's death has created in the Nigerian entertainment industry will be hard to fill, his statement said.

In the 1950s, Fatai is said to have revolutionized the agidigbo or thumb piano - which he then moved onto the guitar.

The BBC's Will Ross in Lagos says the musician was influenced by Ghana's highlife scene, as well as calypso from the Caribbean.

His music was a great influence on other Nigerian musicians, including Fela Kuti.

In an interview with AFP new agency more than a year ago, Fatai bemoaned the hip-hop music that now dominates in Nigeria.

He said "a good musician should know how to play any instrument", showing his irritation with artists he accused of sometimes being "lazy" and simply seeking "easy money", AFP reports.

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