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Nigerian Music Legend Dr. Victor Olaiya, Dies Aged 89

Veteran Nigerian musician and trumpeter, Victor Olaiya, has passed on at the age of 89 on Wednesday, February 12, 2020. News of his death was made public by the Managing Director of his music record label, Evergreen Music, Bimbo Esho, on Wednesday.

The entire music world wish to announce the death of a legend of highlife music- one of the last man standing, the last of the originals, Dr Victor Olaiya, OON…We pray that the doyen of highlife music finds repose with the creator while wishing the family  and entire music community the fortitude to bear this irreplaceable loss

Bimbo Esho

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Olaiya passed on at exactly 12 noon on Wednesday at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) after a brief illness to mark what can be tagged the ‘’end of an era,’’ in Nigerian music especially highlife music.

Most of my contemporaries no longer exist. The chances of collaborating with them are cancelled

Victor Olaiya (2013)

Dr. Victor Abimbola Olaiya who hailed from Ekiti State was born in Calabar on December 31, 1930, as the 20th child in a family of 24. At an early age, the deceased learned to play the Bombardon and French Horn, and would abandon the opportunity of studying civil engineering at Howard University, United States, opting to pursue a career in music.

Late Olaiya in his early music years played with the Sammy Akpabot Band, and was also the leader and trumpeter for the Old Lagos City Orchestra, before becoming part of the Bobby Benson Jam Session Orchestra. Cool Cats, Olaiya’s own music band was formed in the year 1964, and two years later (1956), the popular highlife music band was chosen to perform when Queen Elizabeth II visited Nigeria (then a British colony), and four years later at the state ball of Nigeria’s Independence Day on October 1, 1960. He would also perform when Nigeria became a republic in 1963. Olaiya who was confered OON also entertained United Nations troops fighting in the Congo, before renaming his music group ‘’All Stars Band,’’ in 1963 after they had successfully performed at the International Jazz Festival in Czechoslovakia.

Also notable for sharing the stage with popular American jazz musician, Louis Armstrong, Sir Victor Olaiya was popular for making hits like Baby Jowo, Feso J’aiye, Ilu Le O, and Taxi Driver, and was also an inspiration to many Nigerian musicians especially in the world of highlife music where he thrilled the globe with his afrobeats.

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The Nigerian music world has expressed shock at the passing of the music legend as many have trooped to their social media handles to drop condolence messages for his family. Popular Nigerian music act, 2Baba (Innocent Ujah Idibia) who was featured by Victor Olaiya in his 2013 music hit ‘’ Baby Mi Da’’ expressed devastation at the death of the veteran and thanked him for serving as inspiration.

Devastated by the news of the passing of Dr. Victor Olaiya- maestro, mentor, legend. Thanks for the beautiful music. Thanks for the inspiration. Blessed for the honour of sharing a mic and stage with you. Rest in peace baba.



The Nation Online NG

Punch NG


Twitter @official2baba

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Ugo Chinedu

I am a Lion, I love to hit heights that seem impossible so I can motivate others and prove doubters wrong. For me, impossible is nothing. I'm open to learning and I love to read, travel and meet new faces.

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