Fatai Rolling Dollar’s last moment
konknaijaboy | On 18, Jun 2013
The music industry was thrown into deep mourning on Wednesday as the news broke of the passing away of the oldest Nigerian musician, Pa. Abdulfatai Olayiwola Olagunju popularly known as Fatai Rolling Dollar.
The 86-year-old highlife legend finally succumbed to the cold hands of death after a serious battle with lung cancer. Rolling Dollar had embarked on a tour of the United States in May. According to a source, the Wokere Si Number Wa singer actually did not want to travel because of ill health.
But he had to travel at all cost after learning that the US-based show promoter, Samson Ajibod of Classic International Promotions had already booked a number of shows for him at the Nigerian Carnival in Maryland and New York. However, Rolling Dollar managed to play a few shows before he seriously fell sick and had to be rushed to a hospital in the United States.
TS Weekend further learnt that after the musician was discharged from the hospital he asked for permission to return home so he could treat himself with herbs.
On his arrival in Nigeria two weeks ago, the octogenarian took ill again, his legs became swollen and was rushed to Ahmadiya Hospital, Ijaiye, Lagos by his wife. After spending about five days in the hospital, he was discharged but confined to bed rest and was barred from attending to guests.
But rather than recuperate, a few days later, Fatai Rolling Dollar’s health deteriorated and was rushed to a private hospital in Surulere, Lagos where he finally passed away in the early hours of Wednesday June 12, 2013.
He was buried yesterday amidst fanfare at his home in Ikorodu, Lagos State. Born on July 22, 1926 in Ede, Osun State, Rolling Dollar is survived by wives and many children. Talented singer Fatai Rolling Dollar was a talented singer who inspired many younger musicians and whose footprints would remain indelible for many years to come.
According to Kunle Tejuosho, Lagos-based music promoter whose label, Jazzhole Records, released and popularized the deceased’s hit album, Won Kere Si Number Wa, Rolling Dollar was a great musician who lived the life of a true musician.
“He was always happy to perform. He was a good guy. He enjoyed his life. He had a second chance, which he used very well,” he said. Tejuosho further stated that Rolling Dollar would be missed because he brought the past forward to the present. “He also re-lived the music of the 1950s, aside being a great music historian and a great music custodian.”
In the same manner, Yomi Opakunle, Rolling Dollar’s former manager, paid glowing tributes to his boss, describing him as “a highly creative, humble but restless musician.” Although, widely reputed as a great singer and composer, Rolling Dollar was equally known for his verve and dexterity on the guitar. He was highly respected and admired for his enormous energy, even in old age.
He was particularly noted for being able to modulate his voice in diverse tones and textures to reveal his rare talent as a gifted singer. He was generally a marvel to his fans who loved to watch and dance to his music while performing. Unlike many of his colleagues who went into extinction after enjoying popularity for several years, Rolling Dollar bounced back to reckoning after decades of struggling to make ends meet.
He was said to have worked as a security guard when his musical career suffered a long lull. But Rolling Dollar got a new lease of life after the French Cultural Centre brought him back into public consciousness, sequel to the efforts of veteran music critic and former manager to Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Mr. Benson Idonije. A few years after bouncing back to reckoning, Rolling Dollar later got a higher lift through Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu while he was the governor of Lagos State.
He it was who gave the late musician a house in one of the low cost housing estates in New Oko Oba area of Agege, Lagos.
While reacting to Rolling Dollar’s death, Governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola described the late musician as one of the frontrunners of juju/highlife music and whose death would remain a huge loss to the Nigerian entertainment industry. Aregbesola, in a statement issued by Semiu Okanlawon, Director, Bureau of Communications and Strategy, described the octogenarian highlife maestro who hailed from Ede, Osun State, as testimony in perseverance and hope.
The governor said Rolling Dollar’s life sojourn demonstrated that no time is too late for man to have a breakthrough in life. He added that the star of the old artiste, who trained Ebenezer Obey in his heydays, shone at his old age when nobody ever taught of a musical success for him again after his initial popularity at the beginning of his career.
“The ace musician’s ultimate comeback is a testimony that no time is late in the life of human being. Pa Fatai Rolling Dollar’s story of a meteoric rise to fame is a confirmation that success can come at any time in a man’s life.
“Rolling Dollar was a force to reckon with in highlife music and he would stand tall in the nation’s music hall of fame and counted among musical genii like Cardinal Rex Lawson, Bobby Benson, and Adeolu Akinsanya among others. The nation’s entertainment industry as well as his fans and Nigerians generally will miss the great musician and his exit will create a big vacuum in highlife music.
“The government and people of the State of Osun, where the music legend hailed from, send our heartfelt condolences to the immediate and extended families of the late musician, his band members, fans and the government of Lagos,”
the governor said.