King Sunny Ade, aka KSA, is an award-winning Nigerian singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. He is one of the pioneers of African music around the world.
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King Sunny Ade’s Background
Dr Sunday Adeniyi Adegeye was born into the royal family of Adegeye on the 22nd of September 1946 in Ondo State. He grew up in Osogbo and had his elementary education at the African School, Methodist School, and Saint Charles grammar school before he relocated to Abeokuta, and Lagos in 1962.
His father periodically played the organ in church whenever the organist was unavailable. Sunny Ade’s father died when he was 8years old, so he was raised by his mother.
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As a child, King Sunny Ade always loved music and wanted to be a performer, but no one would let him because he is royalty, and as a prince, you can’t play music, music is played for you. As a result, he always sneaked out to dance and sing along with music bands.
I.K Dairo was a major inspiration to him, he was like a father to him before he passed, and he learnt a lot from him about the music profession. Sunny Ade was also a fan of Brook Benton, Jim Reeves, Grover Washington, BB King, Don Williams, etc.
He is married and blessed with several children and grandchildren.
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King Sunny joined a music band called Idou Woye. It was this group he followed to Abeokuta when they went to play at the installation of a new King. After the show, Prince Sunday told the band leader that he would love to travel to visit his brother in Lagos, so they gave him some money. Afterwards, he relocated to Lagos and joined Moses Olaiye’s band – Federal Rhythm Dandies.
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Sunny Ade left Olaiye’s band to start up his band – Green Spots in 1966. His first hit was in 1969, with the single – Challenge Cup, within 2 weeks, they sold over 500,000 copies of the song. Between 1973 – 1974, he changed the band name to African Beats, because a cigarette company also called Green Spots wanted to use them to promote their product. Once again, he changed the band name to King Sunny Ade and His New African Beats in 1985, because the African Beats broke off.
In 2009, King Sunny Ade was appointed a visiting professor of music at the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife.
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King Sunny Ade’s Stage Performances
In 1982, Sunny Ade’s band embarked on a tour of America and Europe. During the tour, he was known for his dance steps, and guitar playing method modelled after Tunde Nightingale’s style. He chose this method because he wanted to be different from other Juju players.
The New York Times described him as – one of the world’s great bandleaders, Record described him as a breath of fresh air, a positive vibration that will be felt for some time to come, while Trouser Press described him as one of the most captivating and important musical artists anywhere in the world.
After his tour, he released another album – Synchro System in 1983. The album also enjoyed huge success and earned him his first Grammy Award nomination. Hence he became the first Nigerian nominated for a Grammy award. In 2017, he performed again in London, for a musical comeback themed A Night 2 Remember with the Legends alongside Ebenezer Obey.
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1982 – 1987
- Ja Funmi – 1982
- Ma Jaiye Oni – 1982
- Sunny ti de Ariya – 1982
- Mo Beru Agba – 1982
- Eje Nlo Gba Ara Mi – 1982
- 365 is my number/ the message – 1982
- Mo Ti Mo – 1983
- Maajo – 1983
- Penkele – 1983
- E Saiye Re – 1983
- Synchro Feelings/Ilako – 1983
- Tolongo – 1983
- Ase – 1983
- Sweet Banana – 1987
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1995 – 2000
- Orisun Iye – 1995
- E Dide E Mujo – 1995
- Omode O’Mela – 1995
- Eri Okan – 1998
- Aiye Nreti Eleya Mi – 1998
- Kiti Kiti – 1998
- Natuba – 1998
- Easy Motion Tourist – 1998
- Merciful God – 2000
- Ariya – 2000
- Sijuade – 2000
- Appreciation – 2000
- Suku Suku Bam Bam – 2000
- Ko Salapata – 2003
- Afai Bawon – 2003
- Sunny Ti De – 2003
- Adena Ike – 2013
- John Ali – 2013
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King Sunny Ade And Island Records
After the death of Bob Marley in 1982, Marley’s record company – Island Records needed another third world artist to replace him. At the time, Arista Records just signed Fela Kuti, so he wasn’t an option. A producer – Martin Meissonnier introduced King Sunny Adé to Chris Blackwell of Island Records, and this led to the release of his first album (Juju Music) in 1982. In a short while, he gained a huge fan base with this album and was named The African Bob Marley.
King Sunny Ade’s Hollywood Career
At a point in King Sunny’s life, he wanted to switch from music to acting, but that didn’t go down well for him, so he stuck with his music. During his short time as an actor, he featured in a few Hollywood and Nollywood movies. His songs were also used as a soundtrack for two Hollywood movies – Breathless (1983), and One More Saturday Night (1986). One of the movies he featured in was Robert Altman’s comedy movie – O.C. and Stiggs (1987).
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King Sunny Ade’s Endorsements
The Nigerian Minister of Information as at March 2017 – Lai Mohammed, appointed King Sunny Ade as the ambassador for the Change Begins With Me campaign.
King Sunny Ade’s Quotes
“When I started music, I did not know my songs would become evergreen.”
“The moment you hear the music; the music can heal you.”
“I believe that my songs have to do with peace and happiness.”
“No matter where we go, we are still Nigerians, and nobody will take that from us.”
“I love to hold on to the culture.”
“Young ones must have the fear of God in them, they must respect themselves and others, they must respect their profession, they must have the love of God, and obey the laws of the land. They mustn’t be involved in criminal activities that would stain their family name, and society.”
“Punctuality is the soul of business…”
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Awards And Recognitions
- Recipient of the Order of the Federal Republic
- Best Ethnic or Traditional Folk Recording nominee at the Grammy Awards – 1984
- Nominated for the Best World Music Album at the Grammy Awards – 1999
- Award for outstanding contribution to world music at the International Reggae and World Music Awards – 2008
- He was inducted into the Afro-pop Hall of Fame at the Brooklyn African Festival in the United States – 2009
- City People Movie Lifetime Achievement Award – 2014
- King Sunny Ade was inducted into Hard Rock Cafe hall of fame – 2016
- AFRIMA award recipient – 2016
King Sunny Ade’s Net Worth
According to idolnetworth.com, King Sunny Ade is worth $55million.
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King Sunny Ade’s Life Lesson
Every entrepreneur should be tough, strong, and resilient. King Sunny Ade’s family didn’t want him to be a musician, because he’s a prince, but he stood against them and pursued his passion.
Also, be different from others in your industry; stand out, as that would keep you in the game for a long time. King Sunny Ade’s songs are evergreen because he sought to do something different from the normal juju music, and that became his legacy.
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Image Credit: @kingsunnyade70, #kingsunnyade (Instagram)