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Monday, 27 May, 2002, 09:42 GMT 10:42 UK
The Sunny sounds of Ade
King Sunny Ade
King Sunny Ade was once dubbed "The New Bob Marley"
Born into the royal family of Ondo, Sunday Adeniyi was once crowned King Sunny Ade, chief of Juju music.

At the sound check for a one-off gig at London's Royal Festival Hall, he told BBC World Service of his love for the traditional music of his Yoruba-speaking homeland in western Nigeria.

"Whenever people have a Mardi Gras festival you hear the same type of music."

"This is party music, you want to be part of it and it comes from my home, it all started from Africa," he told The World Today programme.

Rich mix

Juju, or to give it its correct name "ashiko", is what King Sunny calls "happy music". It is made up a mix of shrine music and is the secular traditional mix of western Nigeria.

With no hidden agendas, the vital ingredient in his brand of music is fun.

King Sunny Ade
"This is party music, you want to be part of it"

"I don't preach, I don't like politics," he explained.

"Music is like water - you can add sugar, cola, orange, as long as its water, it's free. But you can't add politics."

King Sunny's varied sound owes much to his unlikely musical influences.

"Jim Reeves, Don Williams, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson," he said.

"When I wanted to change the African violin to something modern, I listened to their country steel guitar, the way it flows and I thought why can't I introduce that? I so much love it."

New Marley

Music, King Sunny claimed, was always his passion. Aged 16, and against his parents' wishes, he went to Lagos to join a band.

"You know, 300 miles from my home and I ended up playing guitar for Moses Olaiya's Rhythm Dandies," he recalled.

After his first hit in 1967 he began to build a business empire round his music, setting up his own record label, opening nightclubs, and releasing up to six records a year.

His followers dubbed him "the chairman". However his first taste of international success came when Island Records signed him and promoted him as "the new Bob Marley".

When asked if the world music title irked him, he replied: "No! You can find any music in my Juju, so call it world music."

See also:

15 Jan 02 | Entertainment
25 Feb 02 | Country profiles
25 Mar 02 | Newsnight
11 Apr 02 | Entertainment
15 Apr 02 | Entertainment
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