The Rise and Fall of the Nigeria Psychedelic Rock Scene | Nigeria News Today. Your online Nigerian Newspaper f

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The Nigerian rock and psychedelic music scene that had originally started in the 1960s didn’t truly flourish until 1970, when the country's three-year civil war came to an end

But despite developing a significant global following during the time, the era remains a largely forgotten chapter of modern music history outside of the country.


The post-war period gave rise to numerous bands and musicians, with hundreds of albums being released throughout the 1970s. One such band were Nigeria’s first professional pop band, the Hykkers, who, following a period of relative silence when trapped behind rebel lines in Biafra, emerged from the conflict in a haze of psychedelia.

The Hykkers' return was a symbolic one for the Nigerian music industry, but the tone, sound and attitude of the pre-war music scene had changed. The slick good-time dancehall music had been replaced by a rugged, more edgy sound. Soul, funk, blues, rock, jazz and reggae were fused with local rhythms and psychedelic experimentation, and a cult scene was born. The Hykkers eventually split when guitarist Jake Sollo inexplicably destroyed the band's instruments after a gig in 1972. It transpired that he was planning to leave the band and wanted to send a message that they should not continue without him.

After a spell at university, Sollo went on to join the Funkees, who moved to London where they became heavily influenced by the likes of Jimi Hendrix. They performed alongside fellow Nigerian artists such as OFO and the Black Company and Remi Kabaka, who also made an impact on the English scene. Sollo was one of many Nigerian musicians who embraced the sound of Hendrix. And it is a testament to the legacy of the late American pioneer that his influence once reached such obscure places as the bars and clubs of war-torn Nigeria and continues to permeate every corner of pop culture to this day, with an online casino in the UK even having a video slot game dedicated to him.

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But while the bands in London were developing one sound, those back in Nigeria were developing their own. The Fractions were unashamedly influenced by another legendary artist from the USA, James Brown. And it was this funk-heavy soul sound than became the soundtrack to the nightlife of Lagos and other cities during the early 70s.

One artist who gained direct exposure to the American scene was Fela Kuti. The young jazz musician travelled to the USA in 1970 and came back with a sound that gave birth to the Afrobeat movement. He established a nightclub called the Afrika Shrine which became one of the recognised centres of the Nigerian music scene during the 1970s. Such was the influence of Afrobeat that it is no surprise that Kuti himself has gone on to influence a broad spectrum of artists, including contemporary musicians and club DJs.


But all good things come to an end and by the late 1970s, the Nigerian scene started to dissolve, Afrika Shrine burnt to the ground and many groups disbanded. The Afrobeat scene did not disappear altogether but it was never the same again. As the memory of the civil war faded and the country got back to normal, the abstract musical concepts and intangible attitude that had emerged from that horrific episode also began to fade, as the country turned to face the future.

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