Nigerian bandleader, composer and saxophonist Orlando Julius, a.k.a. O.J. Ekemode, is the subject of this installment of Afropop’s “Best of The Beat” series of reprints of features from The Beat magazine. A seminal figure in highlife, Afrobeat and international African music throughout his 60-year career, O.J. established himself and his band in Oakland, California in the ’70s-80s and was an important part of the African music scene that is detailed in the program “Afropop By the Bay.”
As that scene gained in strength and popularity throughout the ’80s, many of the Bay Area bands played Los Angeles frequently. O.J. and his group Nigerian All Stars became renowned for their outstanding stage shows, and he visited my radio program many times. O.J. returned to West Africa for several decades and we didn’t hear much from him, but his career has recently experienced a revival, with reissues of his early albums and new recordings with a London group, the Heliocentrics, and a U.S. tour in the summer of 2015, during which he played in New York and was interviewed by Morgan Greenstreet and photographed by Atane Ofiaja.
One of O.J.’s many greatest hits, the joyous “Jagua Nana” from 1967, never fails to bring people to their feet.