Prince Adekunle, Juju Musician legend who trained Sir Shina Peters,Looks back

Prince Adekunle, Juju Musician legend who trained Sir Shina Peters,Looks back

Prince Adekunle,the juju music veteran and legend.
General Prince Adekunle was a part of the thriving and exciting juju music dominance in Nigeria in the 70s and 80s.Adekunle was next in line to Ebenezer Obey and Sunny Ade.He had many hits like Give us this day,Awodi nfo ferere,You tell me that you love me baby,Garri Oloyo,Omo niyi omo ni de and many many more.Prince Adekunle was also the boss to Shina Peters and Segun Adewale before they left his band in 1977.
Prince Adekunle looks  back on his career as well as the drug burst in America that saw him spend two years in jail for a crime he claimed to know nothing about...enjoy the interview by Tayo Adelaja.

With his trademark dark shades, the iconic musician of late 60s to early 80s, General Prince Adekunle,Juju musician  reclines in a deep seat in his tastefully furnished living room at his
residence. Now in his 70s, he cut the picture of what he was and now is – a retired successful musician now working in the vineyard of the Lord.
Still striking with a regal bearing, the leader of the Supersonic Sounds, a juju band, which once ruled the music waves like a colossus is aging gracefully and seems to be enjoying it. Born Josiah Adeyinka Adekunle, he is from the Oke Ona royal family of Abeokuta, Ogun State. As he sits, crosses and recrosses his legs, the maestro gazes into the past and brings back reminiscences.
Once in a while, he smiles. At times, his face squeezes in a frown as he struggles to contain his emotions as he tells his own story. Somewhere in the background flows the latest work of the now ordained pastor of The Word Bible Church, Ajelogo Mile 12. It is titled Adekunle @ 70. It was in commemoration of his turning 70 in 2012.

He celebrated his becoming a septuagenarian with the launching of the twotrack album. The first track of the album is Adekunle @ 70 while the second track is Ogbaraojoti O Fewoileola. The two track album is full gospel juju but blended with the old flavour which he is reputed for.
Image result for prince adekunle and shina peters
Prince Adekunle today as he looks...
Prince Adekunle mentored great juju musicians like Sir Shina Peters, Segun Adewale and Dayo Kujore among others. But his mien hardly betrays the man that was so famous in the juju circle. You can hardly mention four to five popular juju musicians in those days without his name coming up.
As this sharp but soft-spoken man communes with this reporter, one can but only marvel at his peaceful mien which shows a man without affluence but contented with life.
The beginning
His musical career started as a drummer in the 50’s at Ogbe Methodist School, Abeokuta. He was a member of the School Choir as a drummer and vocalist. The skill was further honed at the Church of the Lord, Somolu headed by the popular Prophet S.L. Kogberegbe. He was a prominent member of the choir in the church as a drummer.

Then, he did not know that he was going to become a professional musician and that career would bring him fame. Prince Adekunle was born on October 22, 1942. He started struggling to wax records from 1965 and it was not until 1968 that fortune smiled on him. At that time, Ebenezer Obey (another popular juju musician) was making his first trip to London.
Prince Adekunle said: “He was like a mentor to me and he knew me, so I approached him for his musical instruments. I asked for his musical instruments because since he would be travelling in 1968, I was sure that he was going to buy new musical instruments from the UK. I implored him to give me the instruments he was using so as to boost my musical career.
He consented but for a few weeks before he was to leave for UK, there was a hiccup and he couldn’t travel as scheduled. At that time, I now waxed a record in his praise.
It was my first record and it was an instant hit, the title of the record is Give us this day our daily bread. People thought it was Obey that was singing, so they bought the record. When they found out it was Prince Adekunle, they didn’t mind because they enjoyed the rhythm and the strong lyrics of the music.”

When Obey came back from London, he fulfilled his pledge when he gave me musical instruments to boost my career. Prince Adekunle and Supersonic Sound started with his immediate sibling, now late- Kolapo Adekunle (who died on 12 March, 1985), Late Oluwole Yellow (died in early 2000), Late Adekoya Richard (died on 19 June, 1998), Shina Peters joined later. Speaking further, he said: “I had a Danfo which I used in packing musical instrument for my shows; I had a fatal accident with the bus at Bolade in Oshodi.
I was taken to London for treatment in 1971. It was after the accident that Shina Peters joined my band and that was late 1971. When I travelled for treatment, I met a promoter in UK-UNICO that arranged that I should come on playing tour of Europe in 1972.”
The accident of Prince Adekunle became a blessing in disguise as he met not only a promoter that assisted his band to make their first Europe tour, but the tour was largely a big success. During the tour, he waxed a record, London timowayi o ma dele, lola Oluwa mi ma dele layo o, that was released in 1972. Literarily translated as, “We are in London and by the special grace of God, we will arrive safely at our various homes in peace and joy”. We waxed the record while in the UK, but Ibukun OrisunIye, our record label and promoter in Nigeria released the record before our arrival in Nigeria.

That record as at that time sold hundreds of thousands. From that trip, I was able to buy a new car, new instrument and commenced the building of my house. Prince Adekunle spoke glowingly of that trip, “We toured Europe. We were well received and our fans base grew. I was able to buy new instrument, buy a new car and start the building of my house in Lagos.
I got invited for other playing tours in 1974 and 1976. When we arrived from that playing tour, a large crowd was at the then International Airport, now the Local Airport to welcome us back from our trip. The police had a tough time controlling the crowd of friends, family and fans that waited hours at the airport for our arrival.” Prince Adekunle became a General of Music in UK in 1974 when he was given
an award, General of Music, and Shina Peters was awarded, Sir. Prince Adekunle acknowledging voodoo in Juju and other local music of those days declared, “I am aware of the fact that a lot of musicians and other professionals visited herbalists, occultists and others they believed could help them to attain the height they longed for, but as for me, I’ve learnt in my younger days that such things do not work for me.

There were cases that I was goaded by my band boys into using fetish things, but it did not work for me. At times, they would tell me that I should have been greater than the way I was but because I refused to move like others.
At that time, I always remembered that contentment in the Lord is paramount. I am contented being a Christian. Godliness with contentment is a great gain.
Probably, I might have been dead if I had been deeply involved in fetish things and voodoo. My belief is that for those musicians that mounted the stage and died, it was the wish of the Lord.
Many at that time came with tales of how they spit blood and had other attacks and mishap, but I didn’t have any because I firmly believed and still believe in God and never visited any herbalist then and now.
I am not contending that such did not exist but I was brought up to believe in the power of prayer and that helped me a lot in my career.” On Shina Peters “I was taken to London for treatment in 1971. It was after the accident that Shina Peters joined my band and that was late 1971.

“Shina Peters is a talented musician, and he has been playing before he joined my band. He came to my band at the age of 12. Segun Adewale, Dayo Kujore, Arigidi and Sunday Benson joined the band in 1974,” Adekunle said. He noted that Shina is a gifted instrumentalist. Yet, a devastating blow was dealt to the band when Ibunkun OrisunIye, M. Ola Kazzim that was handling his sales, promotion and label lured 15 of his band members away.
Speaking further, he said, “My promoter, marketer and distributor, M. Ola Kazeem whose label my records were being waxed had a misunderstanding with me. I went to register my company so that I could have my label and do my recording at a later date. It was sort of a retirement plan, but he wasn’t pleased.
He thought that despite all he did for me when I had accident and his investment on me, I had the temerity and effrontery to want to break away from him, and so he lured 15 of my band members away with the promise to buy those that left instruments and cars.
Prominent among them are Sir Shina Peters, Segun Adewale, Dayo Kujore, Arigidi and others. He bought Volkswagen Beetle for Shina, Segun and Arigidi and other cars for the rest of the band boys that left then.”the defecting band boys went on to form the group,Sir Shina Adewale and his Super stars international.

It was devastating and painful, but Prince Adekunle moved on to Sanu-Olu Records where he recorded six albums. Notable among them are Asatidode, adiye wonu ago lo, and a record for Pa S.B.J. Oshoffa. Yet, he was glad that the departure of Shina and others led to their fame in the industry.
“At a later date, Shina Peters and Se-gun Adewale left M. Ola Kazzim and they went to court, but the matter was resolved eventually. I wrote him about my royalty in 1997, and we mutually agreed on my benefits. He agreed to payment of my royalty on quarterly basis which he has been doing till date.
We have buried the hatchet and now work with each other harmoniously. Prince recalled that his son called his attention to his song, Awodi nfofere, olounfem’Oluwa, being remixed by Ruggedman.
“Though before he re-mixed the song he didn’t seek my permission, he came later with Gbenga Adeyinka and some other friends to plead and apologise,” Prince Adekunle said.
“Since I am not God, I told him that the matter is in court, I forgave him. He prostrated with those that came with him and profusely apologised. I prayed for him and the others. I was given N25,000.00 with clothes and food items.

Two weeks later, he bought a big generator for me.” How he became a man of God “In 1991, I attended a revival through the invitation of my sister in Ketu. At the revival, Pastor J.B. Kumoluyi was the minister. I sought for his audience after the revival message.
He prayed for me and I completely surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. Before I surrendered my life, things were extremely difficult, but changes happened immediately after. Shortly after, I travelled to USA to see my child.
Surprisingly, I was warmly welcomed by a lot of Nigerians and had to play at many occasions during my stay there. I came home with new musical instruments as well as about $15,000. My experience after giving my life to Christ has been a wonderful one.”

So why did you get into drug trafficking?
I’ve said I would not talk about the drug issue again because I did not traffic in drugs. What else did I want that I did not have then? I was doing well, I had cars, houses, children and my career was going on well, why should I traffic in drugs? I have explained it several times, but I will explain once again. I was going to America for my eye treatment when it happened. I was on the plane when a friend and fan recognised me and embraced me and we travelled together. When we landed in America, I had only one luggage, while this friend had three. I offered to help him carry one but unfortunately, I didn’t know the luggage contained drugs. Prior to that time, I never knew what they called cocaine or heroin because I never engaged in such a lifestyle. When we disembarked and in the queue for checking, he said he wanted to be cleared as quickly as possible and he beat everyone on the line without suspecting that he was up to a game plan.  He had been arrested but I did not know.

 When it was my turn to be checked, I was asked to account for the second bag I was carrying and I said it did not belong to me; that I only assisted him to carry one out of the three he was carrying. When I was asked to identify him, I looked around but he was no more in sight and when they asked me for his name, I did not know it either. When they said they wanted to check my bag, I said they could go ahead. They checked it and they found nothing except my clothes and records. But when they said they would have to force open the second one, I insisted that the owner should be around the corner but they told me that I would have to bear responsibility for whatever they found inside the luggage. Unfortunately, they found a powdery substance inside it and when they asked me what it was, I said I didn’t know because the bag did not belong to me. They said, ‘What are you saying Mr. Man? You carried a bag and you are telling stories.’ When I said I was not the owner, they said I should phone the owner to come forward to claim it but I was helpless. I didn’t know his name and his phone number. Then he had been arrested but I did not know. That was how I was hooked. 

I was arrested and according to the worth of the drugs found in the bag, I could earn 10 years imprisonment. I started praying and fasting as the case started and we were going to the court for almost two years. As God would have it, on the day the judges wanted to deliver verdict, the owner of the bag and myself were brought to the same court. I did not even know him again because it was getting to almost two years and as the judge told me that I should go and serve for 10 years, the man raised an objection through his lawyer. He said he was sorry for the travails of an innocent person who had just been sent to prison for 10 years. He owned up that he was the owner of the luggage found with me that contained the drugs. So, the judge asked me whether I had anything to say, I said I had written everything in my statement that I was not the owner of the bag. And when he sent for the file, the man’s statement corroborated with my written statement. The judge said I was forgiven but that by rule, anyone who had anything to do with such consignment was liable as well as the owner. The judge said, ‘Your statement was right and God is with you. I should have set you free, but because the owner of the bag is your friend, you will have to go and serve two years.’ I was happy and felt vindicated because I had considered suicide when I looked at the prospect of serving a 10-year jail term in a foreign land for an offence I knew nothing about. I felt that suicide would be a better option than the shame of going back to Nigeria after a long jail term but God was with me. Since I had almost finished the term, I was deported to Nigeria.

So what happened when you arrived at home?
I was taken to Kirikiri where I spent 12 months. Nobody listened to my story that I was only unlucky to suffer for another person’s offence. The authorities said I had tarnished the image of the country in a foreign land. I went to the Appeal Court and was set free later. I did not traffic in drugs but I was only very unfortunate to suffer innocently. The eye treatment that I went for, I couldn’t do it again but I thank God that I survived the travails. I thank God that since 1992 when I came back home, I’ve been living in peace with my family.
So if you were asked to mention the only regret you have in life, what would you mention?

The only regret is the drug problem in America. But in retrospect too, what happened to me in America happened because of a reason. If I was not arrested, I probably would have died.
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