Baba of Highlife music, Fatai Olayiwola Olagunju better known as Fatai Rolling Dollars passed on this morning after a brief ailment at Ahmadiya Hospital in Abule-Egba, Lagos. He was 85.
Rolling Dollars who has waxed dozens of highlife classic is quite typical of the Nigerian can do spirit. He rose to fame quite early in life only to return to penury. It was at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, where he worked as a gateman that the likes of the former Editor Sunday Guardian, Mr. Jahman Anikulapo and Toyin Akinosho breathed life in him as well as many among his contemporaries with the weekly gig styled Elders Forum, which took place every Sunday at Ojez then at Iwaya, Onike. It was from the show that the highlife maestro retrieved his lost magic and lunched himself once more as a wealthy and responsible musician. Till date he remains the only musician to have made such a miraculous comeback in big form. Since then there was no looking back for baba, who is old but young in orientation and lifestyle.
He has featured in a number of commercials, de-Deon blood tonic. His greatest hit before his death was the track, Won Kere Si Number Wa. He equally proved himself a very agile individual when he fathered children even in his 80s. Born July 22nd 1926, he is survived by three wives and sixteen children.
Expressing his shock at the news of the death of Rolling Dollar, Chairman Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), Chief Tony Okoroji said he was given a hint by a mutual friend, Mr. Niyi Ojemakinde that Pa Fatai Rolling Dollar was in hospital.
“ I had so badly wanted to go and see him but there was just no time. He was a legend, a fantastic person with a very positive attitude to life who treated everyone with courtesy. I believe that his attitude to life was responsible for the long life he lived and that should be a lesson for all us. He was committed to the unity of the Nigerian music industry and never missed any meeting of COSON. He will be missed by a lot of people whom he inspired. COSON will ensure that Fatai Rolling Dollar is immortalized’
Speaking on the sad event, Mr. Chinedu Chukwuji, General Manager, COSON said the octogenarian’s exit is indeed a very sad one for our rapidly growing music industry. He said “It is indeed very sad to hear of the death of Pa Fatai Rolling Dollars whom as you well know is a frontline member of COSON and a major stakeholder in our music industry. It is a sad moment for the industry and we say may his soul rest in peace.”
“The death of Pa Rolling Dollar is more painful at this point in the history of the development our industry that is fatherly counsel and wealth of experience would be needed. He has been a great source of encouragement to so many of us especially the younger artistes that if you remain focused on your game, it will pay off at the end of the day and one other thing he epitomizes is that good music and good stage craftmanship will always excel. You will recall that his hit tract, “Won Keresi” was one of the songs nominated at the just held COSON Song Awards for the 10 best songs of the 60s. That explains the quality of the composition. Again may his soul rest in peace”
His illness began after his American tour was confined him to the bed after he complained of pains in his legs. He was also reported to have been in a coma; a news that was vehemently denied; with family members confirming that he was recuperating.
Pa. Fatai Olayiwola Olagunju aka Fatai Rolling Dollar was born on the 22nd July 1926 to the family of late Chief Olagunju in Ede, Osun State. He started his musical career in 1953 and has trained many professional musicians, such as Evangelist Ebenezer Obey, late Dr. Orlando Owoh, Bob Aladeniyi amongst others. He was one of the oldest musician still playing active music at the age of 86. He is one of the pioneers of the Juju music genre in Nigeria.