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Fatai Rolling Dollar, Nigerian Highlife Veteran, Passes Away

Fatai Olayiwola Olagunju, known as Fatai Rolling Dollar, was born July 22nd, 1926, and passed away June 12th, 2013, just after his first and last US tour. He was a well-known and respected musician in Nigeria in the 1950s and ‘60s, and his songs span many styles, including acoustic highlife, juju, and agidigbo thumb piano music.

As a guitarist, singer and composer, he influenced and performed alongside internationally recognized musicians such as King Sunny Ade and Ebenezer Obey, but he lived most of his long life in poverty and obscurity. However, his career had a resurgence in recent years, thanks to Jazzhole, a local Nigerian label and record store devoted to promoting older styles of Nigerian popular music. Fatai Rolling Dollar spent the last few years of his life touring internationally and performing in Nigeria with the music collective Faaji Agba, which featured other famed musicians of his era including Sina ‘Ayinde’ Bakare, Prince ‘Eji’ Oyewole,  Alaba Pedro and Chief Seni Tejuoso. Along with Pedro and Tejuoso, who recently passed away as well, Rolling Dollar will be missed by highlife music lovers the world over.

Here is the legend performing with Faaji Agba in a beautifully filmed studio performance from 2011:

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