Fela Kuti - Roforofo Fight

Fela Kuti - Roforofo Fight - Editions Makossa Int. EM2717 (1975)

This was a African guy with an attitude, strong beliefs and wild life style, but you just got to love him! I'm discovering new titles from him all the time. The day after I received his 'Fela in Concert' DVD in the post (from a show in Paris in 1981) I went in July this year (2010) to a Soul Weekender at the Ramada Hotel in Oldbury quite near to where I live in Birmingham.

The highlight of this two-day Modern Soul weekender where the 40 dj's gave time to raise cash for MacMillan Cancer Support for me was hearing 'Roforofo Fight' for the first time spun by the always wacky Gavin Page, he even had the cheek to drop 'the Snake' in amongst the purists in the same set. Mind you the World Cup had been serious competition earlier in the evening with a TV turned on near the dance floor!

I just remember though being knocked out by it, I've never heard a trumpet, tenor & baritone saxophone played in tight formation like this before, it was just amazing, the loudness on the dance floor drumming at your chest - wow.

The version that time was the LP mix that lasts for 16 minutes but Gavin just gave us a few bars from a 12" single. My mate Ian (bless him,) who was also quite impressed went over to ask the dj, to find out what it was and the rest is history. It seams that Roforofo Fight was an album only track on it's first release in Nigeria in 1972, from the album of the same title with a gatefold sleeve but later came out as a single in the US in 1975, even the sleeve is an explosion of colour. The 12" versions I think are all boot-leg releases as far as I can make out and from the 1990's & beyond.

Fela Kuti - Basic Facts:
Fela Kuti was born on October 15, 1938 in Abeokuta, Nigeria, to parents who were political activists. His mother was a feminist and anti-colonialist, and his father was active in the Nigerian teachers' union. Fela Kuti died in 1997 of AIDS.

Fela Kuti's Early Musical Career:
In 1958, Fela Kuti moved to London, where he began studying music. He soon formed a group called Koola Lobitos, which was later renamed Nigeria 70. They played a kind of music which Fela named "Afrobeat", which was American jazz, pop and funk blended with West African highlife music.

Fela Kuti's Sound:
Fela Kuti was a gifted multi-instrumentalist, playing, among other things, saxophone, keyboards, trumpet, drums and guitar. He was also a talented singer and a highly energetic live performer. His lengthy songs (most were over 10 minutes long) were backed up by a consistent groove of drums and bass, a style which heavily influenced the genre of hip-hop.

Fela Kuti's Personal Life:
In 1961, Fela Kuti married Remilekun Taylor. They had three children, Femi, Yeni and Sola. Femi Kuti went on to become a well-known Afrobeat musician in his own right. Later in his life, Fela would become a strong believer in polygamy, and married dozens of women.

Fela Kuti's Political Activism:
Fela Kuti was a major activist for Pan-Africanism and anti-colonialism, and because of his socialist beliefs, had many run-ins with the authorities of several African countries. His struggles made him a veritable icon of the Black Power movement. Fela Kuti attempted to run for Nigerian President several times, but was never allowed to.

Fela Kuti's Death:
Fela Kuti died of complications from AIDS in 1997 in Lagos, Nigeria. His illness was, and is, kept very private by his family members, so no further verifiable information is known about his experience with that disease. [Bio facts from about.com/ Photo's: Top 7' single, DVD cover, Nigerian LP, Single sleeve.]

Fela Kuti discography:http://biochem.chem.nagoya-u.ac.jp/~endo/EAFela.html

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