For the first time in recent times, after the death of great music legend, Fela Kuti, his manager opens up to Nigerian pressmen about late Fela’s influence, his burial and the legacy he left behind.
Recall that Fela Anikulapo Kuti died on 2 August, 1997, at the age of 58, due to Kaposi’s sarcoma infection which was AIDS related.
During his lifetime, the late Afro-beat singer was known for his controversial lifestyle. He was arrested 200 times, contested to become president of Nigeria, was a nudist and married 27 women on the same day. However, his manager, Rikki Stein, saw him as a good friend whose bravery and resolve for change remains unrivaled.
Rikki Stein was not just Fela’s manager, he was referred to as his foremost friend and confidant. In an interview with Pulse Nigeria, Rikki Stein unravels his encounter with the music icon. He talked about how they met, some of his unforgettable moments with the fallen star and the respect Fela’s music has attracted worldwide.
Rikki Stein was Fela’s manager for 15 years and he dedicated those years towards making Fela the greatest African musician of all times. 2016, marks 19 years since Fela’s death and according to Riki Stein, the great Abami Eda still keeps him busy.
Read excerpts from the interview:
“I met Fela first in the back of a Mercedes van, on the M4 Motorway in the UK, lying in the heap of African dancers on our way back from a show. Someboy put on a cassette, and it was sorrow, tears and blood. I had never heard Fela before.
“I went away and did some research, and I found out some more. Then I met somebody, who knew one of the people who was working with him when he was in London on tour. At the time I was working on a rainforest festival, and I wanted to invite artistes from all the rainforest countries of the world to come together, plus people who could talk about the issues of deforestation.
“So I put together a proposal because I wanted Fela to join my board of advisers, and also to come play at the festival. I put a leather-bound proposal together. It was in the winter, and I had a hat, a coat and a scarf, and I knocked on the door, and he said ‘come in’.
“The room was filled with pretty girls, and Fela and his speedos as usual. And I sat down next to him, and I gave him this proposal and he was leafing through the thing, and I was talking into his ear. I can’t remember what I said, but I said something, he spun around and looked at me, and we both started laughing, and we just became friends in that instant.”
Stein also talked about detractors who credit the death of Fela Kuti for the growth of his music, and his influence. “That’s a wicked thing to say,” he said.
Watch full interview below;