#SunnyOnSunday: 50 Amazing Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About King Sunny Ade

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Veteran Juju music maestro, King Sunny Ade, was officially unveiled as the first Nigerian to join the Hard Rock Cafe Lagos Music Memorabilia Collection on Wednesday, November 30th at an induction ceremony in Lagos.

READ: King Sunny Ade To Be Inducted Into Hard Rock Cafe Lagos Music Memorabilia Collection

The “once in a life time” event was brokered by talent agency and event management company, Temple Management Company, who are also putting together another high-powered concert for KSA tagged Sunny On Sunday, scheduled for today December 11th at Federal Palace Hotel, Lagos.

The Sunny on Sunday concert is to celebrate the King’s 70th birthday and 50years of brilliantly good music of the legend performing as an artist and a global icon.

As Nigerians celebrate Sunny on Sunday – Celebration of 50 Years on Stage –  we decided to bring to you 50 amazing facts you probably didn’t know about the legend King Sunny Ade (KSA).

King Sunny Ade, the legend and master of the guitar in action
King Sunny Ade, the legend and master of the guitar in action via google.com

1. King Sunny Ade was birthed Sunday Adeniyi on September 22, 1946 to a Nigerian royal family in Ondo, therefore making him an “Omoba” of the Yoruba people.

2. He recently celebrated his 70th birthday in grand style.

3. His father was a church organ player, while his mother was a petty trader.

4. With two Grammy nominations to his belt, King Sunny Ade is easily one of the most influential artistes ever in Nigeria.

5. Popularly called KSA, he is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and a pioneer of modern world music.

6. He led the exposure of his genre of music on the global stage, while remaining King of the Juju music tradition.

7. The fusion King is among a select group of the world’s greatest artistes whose musical instruments have been preserved in the hallowed Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Phoenix, Arizona, United States of America.

8. Ade, who graced his presence at a grammar school in Ondo state, embarked on a trip to Lagos, under the pretext of acquiring academic erudition at the University of Lagos.

9. In Lagos, he launched his musical career with Moses Olaiya’s Federal Rhythm Dandies, a highlife band.

10. In 1967, he left the group to form a new band, The Green Spots, which changed its name several times, first to African Beats and then to Golden Mercury.

11. In 1982, following his several, outstanding stage acts, which were characterized by a deft dancing steps coupled with his mastery of the guitar, his prominence garnered profound momentum in Europe and North America.

12. His next album, Synchro System in 1983, an equally successful album, earned him his first Grammy Award nomination in the folk/ethnic music category.

King Sunny Ade performs on stage with Onyeka Onwenu
King Sunny Ade performs on stage with Onyeka Onwenu

13. KSA released another album, “Odu”, a collection of ancient Nigerian songs, in 1998; the album was nominated for a second Grammy Award, thus making him the first African to be nominated twice for a Grammy.

14. Sunny Ade’s brief recordings with Island Records opened the floodgates for other world music artists like Senegalese Youssou N’Dour, Mali’s Salif Keita and many others.

15. He later employed an American manager, Andrew Frankel, who negotiated another three album record deal with the Mesa record label (a division of Paradise Group) in America.

16. The lengend’s music constitutes a record of the oral tradition of his people for posterity.

17. He is arguably placed in same class as guitar musicians like Santana, following his mastery of the talking drum – an instrument indigenous to his Yoruba roots, the guitar and his peculiar application to jùjú music.

18. A time came when the prominence of Juju Music and Synchro System clearly indicated that Ade was going to live up to billing as “the African Bob Marley”.

19. Sunny Ade is responsible for the introduction of the pedal steel guitar to Nigerian pop music.

20. He also introduced the use of synthesizers, clavinet, vibraphone, tenor guitar into the jùjú music repertoire such as dub and wah-wah guitar licks.

21. King Sunny Ade has collaborated with major artists such as Manu Dibango (Wakafrika) and Stevie Wonder (played harmonica in Aura), as well as Wasiu Alabi Pasuma and Bola Abimbola.

22. In the 1980s, his music featured in the 1983 film Breathless, starring Richard Gere, and the 1986 comedy One More Saturday Night.

23. KSA also acted in a Hollywood movie – in Robert Altman’s 1987 comedy O.C. and Stiggs.

24. Ade and his African Beats have been featured in three films — Juju Music in 1988, Live at Montreux in 1990, and Roots of Rhythm in 1997.

King Sunny Ade standing with some of his adorable wives
King Sunny Ade standing with some of his adorable wives

25. He is believed to have about seven ‘official’ wives, with further insinuations that he has other wives who can be referred to as ‘unofficial’.

26. Sunny Ade was appointed a visiting professor of music at the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife.

27. KSA was inducted into the Afropop Hall of Fame, at the Brooklyn African Festival in the United States.

28. King Sunny Ade dedicated the award to the recently deceased Michael Jackson.

29. Apart from being called KSA he is fondly known as “The Chairman” or “Minister of Enjoyment” in Nigeria.

30. Sunny Ade, who is running multiple companies in several industries, in the mid-’90s, created a non-profit organisation called the King Sunny Adé Foundation, an organization that includes a performing arts centre, a state of the art recording studio, and housing for young musicians and performers on a five acre tract donated by the Lagos state government.

31. It is believed that the money realised from his early albums was used to launch an oil firm, a mining company, a nightclub, a film and video production company, a PR firm, and a record label specializing in recordings by African artists.

32. Cheques showed that an estimated 700 people are employed by KSA’s companies.

33. He is also working with the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria.

34. In the late ’80s, KSA released a classic ‘love song’ called ‘Wait For Me’ featuring the evergreen Nigerian musical icon, Onyeka Onwenu.

Listen to our playlist: King Sunny Ade

35. The chemistry between the duo stirred controversies as fans and the media paired them up to be lovers as a result of the song, its lyrics and the video – an insinuation he later addressed over 30 years after the release of the song.

36. The musician Lagbaja is one of the very many musicians whom Sunny Ade’s music has inspired.

37. In 2008, his contributions to world music was recognised; as he was given an award for his outstanding contribution to world music at the International Reggae and World Music Awards held at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York.

38. KSA was recently inducted into the Hard Rock hall of fame.

39. During the induction, he donated some personal things to the Hard Rock’s world-famous memorabilia collection.

King Sunny Ade
King Sunny Ade handing his guitar over to Sanjay Mathani (CEO Hard Rock Cafe Lagos)

40. The vintage Fender Guitar the juju maestro donated to the Hard Rock’s world-famous memorabilia collection on November 30, happened to be the first guitar he used for his first major hit.

41. The personal items donated by KSA will join more than 81,000 pieces of music memorabilia that Hard Rock has acquired over its 45-year history.

42. In 1996, Ade formed a supergroup, the Way Forward, featuring top-notch Nigerian musicians.

43. KSA was listed in The 100 Most Influential Musicians of All Time – By Britannica Educational Publishing

44. He was in the vanguard of the development and international of juju music.

45. Prior to Ade’s formation of the African Beats, one of his most notable predecessors, I.K. Dairo, had already modified juju through the incorporation of Yoruba “talking” drums – which replicate the tones of Yoruba Language.

46. During an exclusive chat with Premium Times in October 2016, Ade made public a list of Nigerian artistes he would love to collaborate with, and top on the list was Wizkid.

47. He also said he would love to work with 9ice, Darey Art Alade and many other Nigerian artists.

48. He also helped in the creation of PMAN (Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria).

49. KSA launched his Radio Station in Ondo town.

50. Hate or like him, King Sunny Ade, has beyond doubt, proven to be one of the brightest and most accomplished musicians of the modern era – a master of his unique brand of proficient creativity.

King Sunny Ade
SunnyOnSunday Event Today


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