Nigeria mourns a music icon, one of Nigeria’s Oldest musicians Pa Fatai Rolling Dollar, as he passed away yesterday after a brief illness. This special report gives you details of the life of the music maestro and death.
HOW THE MYSTERIOUS AILMENT STARTED: The mysterious illness that finally claimed the life of the octogenarian started while on his trip to for a concert which was scheduled to hold in top American cities, namely, New York, Maryland, New Jersey and Texas. However, the concert only held in Maryland and New York according to sources. Narrating his ordeal while on his sick bed at Ahmadiya Hospital Abule Egba, Rolling Dollar stated, “I went on stage and performed. When I finished performing and went to sit down, my body was no longer normal. I told somebody to take me to the car and put on the heater. It was about 3.00 a.m. and that was where I started feeling the pain in my leg. It was very cold in America then”, he explained. However some people, who spoke to our correspondent in Lagos, noted that Baba Dollar like they call him, exposed his body to so much cold while in the Obama country. ‘As you know Baba is old, but believes he is still very much strong. He exposed himself to cold and I believe that was the genesis of his problem, because he was shivering while he was taken to the car” our source narrated.
WHY HE COULDN’T PAY HIS HOSPITAL BILL/MOVE TO A BETTER HOSPITAL Not many could comprehend the reason why a paltry sum of 29 thousand naira kept him for so long in Ahmadiya hospital considering his believed close relationship to former Lagos Governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Though, some good Samaritans rallied round and sorted the hospital bill notwithstanding, it is believed that such a small amount shouldn’t be an issue for a legend like him. The saddest part of the whole story is that the show where he developed the complications that finally led to his death, was not paid for. E-Mag was informed that the promoter of the show was allegedly duped by a Nigerian Fuji Musician, Sulaimon Adio Oladele Oyeneye popularly known as Atawewe, who went awol with the promoter’s money, which explains why he wasn’t paid for the concert. Here’s how he captured it on his hospital bed. “The shows were to hold in New York, Maryland, New Jersey and Texas but only New York and Maryland held. New York went bad and I was not even paid for the show there. This is because trouble broke out and some people made away with the money, including, Atawewe, a Nigerian Fuji musician that performed at the event, duping even the promoter, Mr. Samson Raji.”
Meanwhile, an insider who spoke to us maintained that lack of funds actually led to his death. According to the insider, ‘his family members rallied round to get some money so as to move him to a better hospital, but to no avail. They even tried to get across to Asiwaju, whom he claimed loves him so much, but it didn’t work out, as they were said to have lost his contact. Rolling Dollar himself affirmed to this, when he said, ‘Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a good man and my friend, he loves me so much, but I have lost his contact, I can’t get across to him to render any assistance’.
ROLLING DOLLAR THE HERO The prolific musician and composer of mega hit song, Won Kere si number wa, has been applauded in different quarters. Apart from his magic finger on the base guitar, many believe he managed to wait till a special day like June 12 to bow out heroic. A quote from Femi Salawu, a Nigerian Journalist, who plies his trade with Entertainment Express Newspaper, which he is the assistant editor, reads. “An Hero waited till an heroic day, June 12 to bow out at 85…#Fatai Rolling Dollar #Legend #NigerianHero”.
…AND HE LOVES WOMEN At his age, one would ordinarily believe his libido should have ceased, but if you are among those having that believe, you may be living in the dark, as he is said to be full of life, energetic on bed and verily, verily strong, according to one of his younger lover who spoke to this reporter a few years ago. Rolling Dollar once said, I’m still very active on bed and very strong. I prefers younger ladies to their older counterparts and subsequently he credited his undying libido to Margot-infested-concussions, which is called Agbo in Yoruba language. He was survived by three wives a German inclusive and 16 children.
AND YOYO BITTERS FAILED HIM: Before his death, he was an ambassador to herbal medicine, Yoyo bitters. When he was unveiled as the brand ambassador, research showed that the sales of the herbal concoction rose to a high level. Especially because the advertorial, pictures Yoyo bitters as what was responsible for his staying strong even at 80+. Yoyo bitters became an essential commodity and recorded huge sales, as both young and old scampered to get a bottle and have a taste of healthy living. However, that did not prevent him from answering the clarion call, when death came knocking at the age of 85.
HOW HE FINALLY DIED Don’t forget that following his return from the American trip, he headed for the hospital and had been on and off the hospital since then. He was rushed to Marritol Hospital, Sam Sonibare Street, off Lawanson Road, Surulere by his wife following some complications he suffered last night, and he finally bowed out to death at the early hours of, Wednesday, June 12, 2013.
HOW HE GOT THE NAME, ROLLING DOLLAR: He was born in Ede in 1928 to the family of Late Chief Olagunju. His music break came in 1953 when he collaborated with master guitarist, J.O. Araba and tenor sax, Ishola Willie Payne to play at the exclusive Island Club in Lagos. Their Afro Skittle Band,adopted Ghanaian palm wine music to Yoruba highlife sounds, a fusion that deeply influenced up-and-coming artists like Fela Kuti,Sunny Ade and Ebenezer Obey (whom he taught to play the guitar). In the early days of independence, the Afro Skittles recorded several 78-rpm vinyl songs for Philips, spurning hits like Ranka Dede and Ogba oya ya. Rolling Dollars however disappeared from the music scene for about twenty-five years before making a come-back in 2003. Often described as The Come Back King, Fatai got his famed nickname from his days in Secondary School when he had the ability of rolling silver dollars expertly. Back then, he was always called by his school mates to roll Dollars to choose sides for football teams at leisure periods and that was how the name got stuck till date.
TRIBUTES/HIS BURIAL ARRANGEMENT Kunle Tejuosho, whose label, Jazzhole Records, brought out ‘Won Kere Si Number Wa’ among other albums, confirmed his death. He said the deceased came back from America some weeks ago where he had gone for shows for about three weeks. Tejuosho in his tribute, said: “Baba was a great Musician. He lived life of a music. He was always happy to perform. May be he took too much on. “He was a good guy. He enjoyed his life. He had a second chance which he used very well. “He would be missed because he brought the past alive to the present. He re-lived the music of the 50s. He was a great music historian and a great music custodian.” Yomi Opakunle, his former manager, also confirmed the death. He however said the deceased may be buried today. Rolling Dollar was known for his verve and dexterity on the guitar. His zest for life and energy, even in old age, was also a marvel to all who beheld him while performing. After decades of struggling to make ends meet and musical doldrums, Rolling Dollar got a new lease of life after the French Cultural Centre brought him back into public consciousness. He later got a higher lift through Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, while as Lagos State governor. The late musician was given a house in one of the low cost housing estates in New Oko Oba, Lagos. Juju music legend, Ebenezer Obey was among those trained by the late musician. As a pioneer Juju music player, Rolling Dollar clarified in an interview how juju music derived its name. “It was derived from the tambourine which is one of the key instruments used to play it. When they play it on the street they would shout ‘Ju so ke’. They would then throw the tambourine up and shake it. … shukushuku. That was how juju got its name and not from bad medicine and all that. Even though in Saro land the word was taken to mean bad medicine. But here in Lagos our juju meant music. In juju then, we had the guitar, agidigbo, samba, sekere and at times we used the bottle to give us that clave sound. In fact, white people invented the clave from our bottle sound. That is where they got the idea for it,” he said. He was born on 22 July, 1926, in Ede, Osun State.