Juju maestro, Sunday Adegeye, popularly known as King Sunny Ade, speaks with Peter Dada about his personal life, music, and style, among others. Read excerpt from the interview....
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What is the secret behind your youthful look at 73?
I have been asked this question several times and I always say it is by the grace of God. I also believe that my fans made me look like this because they engage me with shows, and on the stage, I dance and jump around. That is a form of exercise on its own. I will also say I have been lucky, so I thank God. My mother also had a unique stature. I neither smoke nor drink.
Why didn’t you use your real name?
I didn’t do that because they would know it was me at home, so I shortened Sunday to Sunny and Adegeye to Ade.
Since you have children from different women, does that confirm your belief in polygamy?
I am a polygamist, there is no doubt about that but I don’t like talking about it and I have never mentioned it in any of my records. But I thank God for my home, I have been able to keep my home, I have never seen my children arguing or fighting, I have been able to unite them. As I said, I have never got a child outside without coming to my house for christening. I have never married a woman without having the consent of her parents. So I have a united family, all my children love me and I thank God for that, it is not my making.
People perceived you and Chief Ebenezer Obey as rivals who always attacked each other with songs. Why were you always fighting?
It was the fans that believed we were always fighting. Obey and I had been friends since we began our bands and we are still friends till date. He started his band a year before me. Also, we pretended to be fighting in order for our fans to enjoy our music. Then, we used to play at night clubs, and where he was playing wasn’t far from where I played. I recall that the fans would go and disrupt his band, and later come to disturb us too. One day, I went to his (Obey) house to meet him behind closed doors.
I asked him how we could manage the situation, and he also asked for my suggestion. We both agreed to change the date of our performances at the club. He chose Thursdays while I maintained Wednesdays. Later, we also pretended to our seniors that we had a misunderstanding, so I invited Pa IK Dairo, Haruna Ishola, Adeolu Akinsanya and two others, to help settle the rift. For a long time, to avoid clashes of our fans, if I had a show, I would ask if Ebenezer Obey was going to be there. If they said yes, I wouldn’t go; and that was the same thing he did too. Our elders then told us there should be no more fight between us, and we should make records to appease our fans.
So, when I sang, he replied too. As the two of us were holding the meeting in his house, we just heard a bang on the door and somebody (Olabisi Ajala) was shouting that so the two of us were friends, yet we were pretending otherwise.
We didn’t open the door but we had already agreed on how we would be doing things from then on. I have to thank God for his (Obey) life because he later got a call from God and became a cleric. The bottom line is that we have always been friends. We later advised young musicians that they don’t need to fight or destroy one another’s shows because of unnecessary rivalry.