I have written, lovingly, about my love of Fela Kuti (the man, his music, the myth), and you can see that HERE.
(If you aren’t familiar with this legend, get a solid introduction HERE.)
But today I want to call your attention to some amazing interviews that I stumbled upon (and I want to give a proper h/t to whomever provided the link, likely @ Facebook, but I’ve forgotten). Most importantly, props to Arthur Magazine for compiling this info, and for having a cool site. Check them out HERE.
First up, the late, great Lester Bowie talks about his time in Nigeria with the great man, HERE.
I’d always wanted to go to Africa. The Art Ensemble of Chicago had been trying to get to Africa for years. So after one of our European tours, I had enough money for a one-way ticket to Nigeria and I think I had a hundred dollars. I didn’t know anybody there, no idea about anything. The hotel in Lagos where I was ended up staying at, the restaurant’s waiter found out I didn’t know anyone, and he says, “Well what you need to do is go see Fela.” And I told him I ain’t never heard of this Fela before. And he said, “Well just get in a taxi cab and say, ‘Take me to Fela.’ Everybody knows where Fela is.”
I stayed as an honored guest, so I was treated with the same respect as Fela was treated with. He said, “I’ll show you how to be an African man. You want to be an African bandleader? I’ll show you what it’s about.” And he showed me what it was about! They’d bring us food. Nobody else could eat until we finished. Which I wasn’t used to, but I just played it off like, you know, ‘Cool with me too!’ [laughter] He showed me about all the wives. He had eight wives at that time. At that same time, I was believing I should have more than one wife. At the time I was getting divorced, I was between marriages. I thought the best thing for me to do was have a couple of wives. But after I stayed with Fela for that time, I saw that one was better! [laughs]
Basically, I always believed art is functional. It’s not just something you put in museums, it’s better for it to be used for something functional: educational usage, therapeutic usage. But it should be USED. Music should be used, not just as entertainment. I’m not saying it’s NOT entertainment. It’s EVERYTHING. It’s entertainment, it’s religion, it’s a lot of things. That’s what most of what our conversations would be about: the spiritual aspect to the music, what binds all these different types of musics together.
That’s why we say “great Black music.” I think Black music is the only music that can be subdivided down into ten subdivisions, and each division is like world astounding-type music, you know what I mean?
Next up, the ridiculously prolific and all-time badass Bill Laswell. Check it HERE.
[When he got out of jail,] Fela did a press tour in the States. He was at the Gramercy Hotel in New York. I went there and he was sitting around his room wearing a shirt and some underwear and sitting in a lotus position on the couch, a bunch of people coming in and out, and we spoke for a few minutes. He was kind of amazed that I would come because he had said that he didn’t like what I had done.
Here’s Laswell’s work:
Here’s the original:
And finally, the incomparable and always entertaining Ginger Baker, totally uncensored, HERE.
How did that work out?
It was terrible, I got fired every night, they threw eggs and bottles at me and told me to fuck off cuz I was a white man.
What do you think?!? No, of course it was FUCKING ALRIGHT! OTHERWISE I WOULDN’T HAVE DONE IT!
(Just read the whole thing.)
Want more? Good.