The late Fatai Rolling Dollars
The late Fatai Rolling Dollars

Highlife music veteran, Fatai Rolling Dollar is dead at 85. The octogenarian passed on this morning at Ahmadiyya Hospital in Abule Egba, Lagos, southwest Nigeria. He was rushed to the hospital by his wife about  a week ago.

Kunle Tejuosho, whose label, Jazzhole Records, brought out ‘Won Kere Si Number Wa’ among other albums, confirmed his death. He said the deceased came back from America some weeks ago where he had gone for shows for about three weeks.

Tejuosho in his tribute, said: “Baba was a great Musician. He lived life of a musician. He was always happy to perform. May be he took too much on.

“He was a good guy. He enjoyed his life. He had a second chance which he used very well.

“He would be missed because he brought the past alive to the present. He re-lived the music of the 50s. He was a great music historian and a great music custodian.”

Yomi Opakunle, his former manager, also confirmed the death. He however said the deceased may be buried today.

Rolling Dollar was known for his verve and dexterity on the guitar. His zest for life and energy, even in old age, was also a marvel to all who beheld him while performing.

After decades of struggling to make ends meet and musical doldrums, Rolling Dollar got a new lease of life after the French Cultural Centre brought him back into public consciousness.

He later got a higher lift through Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, while as Lagos State governor.

The late musician was given a house in one of the low cost housing estates in New Oko Oba, Lagos.

Juju music legend, Ebenezer Obey was among those trained by the late musician.

As a pioneer Juju music player, Rolling Dollar clarified in an interview how juju music derived its name.

“It was derived from the tambourine which is one of the key instruments used to play it. When they play it on the street they would shout ‘Ju so ke’. They would then throw the tambourine up and shake it. … shukushuku. That was how juju got its name and not from bad medicine and all that. Even though in Saro land the word was taken to mean bad medicine. But here in Lagos our juju meant music. In juju then, we had the guitar, agidigbo, samba, sekere and at times we used the bottle to give us that clave sound. In fact, white people invented the clave from our bottle sound. That is where they got the idea for it,” he said.

He was born on 22 July, 1926, in Ede, Osun State. He is survived by wives and many children.


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