Ten Things To Know About The Late Highlife Musician, Orlando Julius

7 months ago

Many Nigerians were left saddened when, on Friday, they woke up to the news that Orlando Julius Aremu Olusanya Ekemode, professionally known as Orlando Julius or Orlando Julius Ekemode, had died.

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He was a Nigerian saxophonist, singer, bandleader, and songwriter closely associated with afrobeat music.

Here are ten things to know about the late Orlando Julius

1. Julius was born in 1943 in Ikole, Nigeria to a merchant family during British colonialism.

2. He is a native of Ijebu Ijesha in Osun State, Nigeria

3. Julius’ first musical teacher was his mother, who would sing and dance while he played drums.

4. He went to St. Peter’s Anglican School in Ikole and played in the school band. In 1957, after dropping out of school and the death of his father, he left for Ibadan to pursue a career as a musician.

5. He worked at a bakery while playing the drums or flute with juju and konkoma bands.

6. He spent time trying to connect with highlife musician Jazz Romero, doing chores for him hoping to garner enough favor for music lessons.

7. He was invited by Romero to play with his band at a hotel in Ondo, learning his first chords on the instrument that he would become best known for, the saxophone.

8. He stepped in as bandleader when Romero got into a conflict with a nightclub owner and walked out on a gig.

9. Back in Ibadan, Julius joined Rex Williams’ highlife band. In lieu of formal lessons, he consumed as much music as possible, buying records of any horn-based music he could, but especially the highlife music out of Ghana which had become popular in Nigeria.

10. Robin Denselow of The Guardian wrote that Julius is “one of the heroes of Nigerian music”, a “master of the simple, stomping riff” with a significant influence on afrobeat music.

The Singer died at the age of 79years.

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