William Onyeabor (29 March 1946 – 16 January 2017)

The man named William Onyeaber – or more simply – The J.D. Salinger of Nigerian Afro-Funk has died. After recording a series of eight original albums between 1977-1985 the celebrated and influential musician went on to become a recluse. This hiding is attributed to his becoming a born-again Christian, and thus distancing himself from his previous work.

In his day many rumors followed, rumors that he went to film school in Russia, or that he had studied law at Harvard. What is known is that he had somehow managed enough money to record and produce his albums in a secretive factory on the outskirts of Enugu. What is also know is that Onyeabor was not to be fucked with, and he was not to be tried on this point. (See Documentary Below)

Following this conversion, the Nigerian icon almost entirely refused to talk publicly about his music, which although profoundly influential, he never performed live. In one of the only accounts that remain of the man, Onyeabor was described as spending much of his final years around the television watching sermons delivered by popular Nigerian televangelist T.B. Joshua. To watch Joshua’s preaching gives insight into the fanatical religious atmosphere of Enugu where locals are known to ask one another “Are you born again?”.

As is true of all great legends Onyeabor intrigues by both the known and the unknown, may he rest in funk.

Since I find the idea of describing music entirely stupid, here is a link below. Its worth your time.

And here is a documentary on Onyearbor.

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