Highlife Music Legend; Victor Olaiya Dies At 89

Nigeria’s highlife music legend Victor Olaiya has died at the age of 89.

A trumpeter, Olaiya ruled the airwaves in the 1950s and early 1960s with a sound heavily inspired by Ghanaian highlife.

As reported by Pulse, it was the legend’s record label Evergreen Music Company. that announced his passing.

“The entire music world wish to announce the death of a Legend of Highlife music, One of the last man standing, the last of the original Dr Victor Abimbola Olaiya OON,” Evergreen Music Company said as reported by Pulse.

“We pray that the soul of the Doyen of highlife music finds repose with his creator while wishing the family and entire music community the fortitude to bear this irreplaceable loss.”

The cause of his death has not been confirmed.

Olaiya was born on December, 31, 1930, in Calabar, Cross River State. The 20th child of a family of 24, he was from a wealthy home.

At an early age, he learned to play the Bombardon and the French Horn. After leaving school he moved to Lagos where he passed the school certificate examination in 1951 and was accepted by Howard University in the United States to study Civil Engineering.

Olaiya instead, pursued a career as a musician to the disapproval of his parents.

He played with the Sammy Akpabot Band, led and played the trumpet for the Old Lagos City Orchestra and joined the Bobby Benson Jam Session Orchestra.

In 1954 Olaiya formed his band, the Cool Cats, playing popular highlife music. His band was chosen to play at the state ball when Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom visited Nigeria in 1956, and later to play at the state balls when Nigeria became independent in 1960 and when Nigeria became a republic in 1963.

Olaiya renamed his band to the All-Stars Band when they played the 1963 International Jazz Festival in Czechoslovakia.

He is survived by many wives, children, and grandchildren.

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