Africa: Nigerian popular music of yesteryears


OFEGE-A schoolboy band, made up of students of St. Gregory’s College, Obalende, Lagos, Nigeria, stormed onto the Nigerian music scene in 1973 with an earth-shattering album.

Its main song was an introductory tune with the title: “Nobody Fails.” The group’s key members were Melvin (lead vocals), Meme (drums), Paul Alade (Bass Guitar) and Olumide (Guitar).

Their skills and cohesiveness were surprisingly at par with those of many professional groups of the time (although the great Beckley Jones of the BLO fame would play the solo as guest artiste on the hits “Nobody Fails,” “Try and Love,” and a few others, on the invitation of the Producer, the legendary Odion Iruoje).

The greatest and pleasant shock OFEGE unleashed worldwide however was that its first album sold 250,000 copies—becoming the first album ever to hit that mark in Nigeria! The group thus excelled over such big names like Fela Kuti, King Sunny Ade, Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey and many other big names in the industry in record sales.

OFEGE would go on to release other notable albums, including what some described as their valedictory ‘gift’ to their fans titled: “The Last of the Origins,” (with such hits as “It Ain’t Easy,” “Whizzy Ilabo,” etc. on other albums), but the moment the members of the group graduated from high school, the band also graduated into oblivion—but its record-breaking achievement would remain for more than 20 years before it would be surpassed by the duo of Prince Nico Mbarga (album “Sweet Mother”) and Bunny Mack (“Let Me Love You”) whose albums each sold in excess of 450,000 copies.

Listen to this track and note the guitar in the intro, the bass riff, the drums, percussions, solo by #Beckley Jones and …of course, savour the velvety voice of Melvin as he croons.

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