Fatai Rolling Dollar

The sun set on a star of the Nigerian music scene on Wednesday as juju highlife maestro, Fatai Olagunju, popularly called Rolling Dollar, passed away.

He died at a Lagos hospital at the age of 86.

Although Rolling Dollar was reportedly hospitalised about two weeks ago at the Ahmadiya Hospital in Ijaye, Lagos, a report said he eventually breathed his last at another medical centre in Surulere.

He was said to have been diagnosed with cancer. However, hospital sources said he complained of respiratory complications on Wednesday morning.

One of his associates, Mr. Kunle Tejuosho, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Jazzhole Records, which produced the artiste’s most successful album – Won Kere si Number Wa – recalled that Rolling Dollar did not really go through any protracted illness, as it was only a few weeks ago that he returned from the United States where he had performed.

Tejuosho said, “Baba was a great musician. He lived a life of music. He was always ready to perform.”

A thoroughbred artiste, who was particularly great as a composer, singer, guitarist and dancer, Rolling Dollar was one of the few voices that kept highlife going, after the death of many of his contemporaries, including Adeolu Akinsanya, Bobby Benson, Oliver de Coque and Osita Osadebe.

Meanwhile, Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola has described the death as a huge loss to the country’s entertainment industry.

Aregbesola, in   a statement by the state Director of Bureau of Communications and Strategy, Mr. Semiu Okanlawon, described the octogenarian high-life maestro as a “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 stressed that the artiste, who trained Ebenezer Obey in his heyday, shone at his old age when nobody ever thought of a musical success for him again after his initial popularity in the career.

Aregbesola said, “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 high life music and he would stand tall in the nation’s music hall of fame and counted among musical genius like Cardinal Rex Lawson, Bobby Benson, Adeolu Akinsanya among others.

“The nation’s music and entertainment industry as well as his fans and Nigerians generally will miss the great musician and his exit will create a big vacuum in high life music.

“The government and people of Osun State, 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 Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke, said the death had severed an important link between the old and new generations of musicians in the country.

The minister, in a statement said, “Pa Fatai Rolling Dollar was a copious symbol of authentic creative talent. His exploits as a musician before and after Nigeria’s independence constitute a great legacy and a reference point for musicians, performers, policy makers and researchers. His resurgence on the nation’s music scene with several hits and memorable numbers is a demonstration of the vitality, resilience and authenticity of the Nigerian creative energy.”