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King Sunny Ade – The Nigerian Who ‘Replaced’ Bob Marley

King Sunny Ade
Image Credit: Banning Eyre

After Bob Marley passed away in 1981, his record company, Island Records, searched the world for undiscovered homegrown talent to transform into an international superstar. Their answer was Nigerian juju singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Sunday Adeniyi Adegeye, popularly known as King Sunny Ade.

Crowned the “King of Juju Music” in the late 1970s by music critics, King Sunny Ade had been a prominent musical force in his native country Nigeria since the mid-1960s, and an international star since the early 1980s when he was signed by Island Records.

King Sunny Ade

Promoting him as ‘the African Bob Marley‘, King Sunny Ade released three albums under the Island Records imprint. The first two albums, Juju Music and Synchro System, were released in 1982 and 1983 respectively, to rousing reviews. The latter even garnered a Grammy nomination, a first for a Nigerian artiste.

The third album, the 1984-released “Aura” did not chart on the Billboard 200, in contrast to Adé’s other Island Records albums. When King Sunny and the label eventually disagreed on his future artistic direction, they parted ways amicably in 1985.

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