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Highlife Musician, Orlando Julius Dies At 79

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Popular highlife music legend, Orlando Julius has died.

Orlando, died on Thursday, April 15, at the age of 79.

Bimbo Esho, Managing Director of Evergreen Musical Company Limited confirmed the death of the musician who reportedly died in the arm of his wife yesterday night.

Popular as Orlando Julius, his real name is Orlando Julius Aremu Olusanya Ekemode.

Professionally, he was famous as Orlando Julius or Orlando Julius Ekemode while the drum and saxophone were his most popular music instruments.

Late Orlando Julius had his first hit in 1965 with the song “Jagua Nana”, after he applied the name for Jaguar cars to a woman.

According to AllMusic, his 1966 album Super Afro Soul was a “dramatic, highly melodic incorporation of soul, pop, and funk” which “made him a national celebrity in Nigeria” and influenced American music.

In 1973, Hugh Masekela  formed a new group with Julius, including some members of both bands. They recorded the albums The Boy’s Doin’ It and Colonial Man and went on tour, opening for high-profile acts like Herbie HancockThe Pointer Sisters, and Grover Washington Jr. Over time, he met and played with several prominent American musicians like Lamont DozierJames Brown, and The Crusaders.

Despite his influence, he was not well known abroad until Strut re-released Super Afro Soul in 2000. It was followed by his 1972 album Orlando Julius and the Afro Sounders being reissued by Voodoo Funk in 2011. He began touring internationally and, in 2014, went to London to collaborate with The Heliocentrics. In the English music collective’s analog studio in North London, they recorded new music as well as new versions of older tracks. Together they released Jaiyede Afro in 2014, which charted at number 13 on the Billboard World Albums chart.

Despite his influence, he was not well known abroad until Strut re-released Super Afro Soul in 2000. It was followed by his 1972 album Orlando Julius and the Afro Sounders being reissued by Voodoo Funk in 2011. He began touring internationally and, in 2014, went to London to collaborate with The Heliocentrics. In the English music collective’s analog studio in North London, they recorded new music as well as new versions of older tracks. Together they released Jaiyede Afro in 2014, which charted at number 13 on the Billboard World Albums chart.The highlife musician has been described as all sort. Lopa Kothari of BBC Radio called Høm a “legend” and Robin Denselow of The Guardian wrote that he is “one of the heroes of Nigerian music”, a “master of the simple, stomping riff” with a significant influence on afrobeat music. Modern Ghana considered him “the last of Nigeria’s titans in the highlife music genre”. According to AllMusic, “few artists have been more crucial to the invention, development, and popularization of Afro-pop”.

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