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Dr. Sikiru Ayinde Barrister Biography

One of Nigeria's best-known singer/songwriters, Chief Doctor Sikiru Ayinde Barrister (born: Sikiru Ayinde) has played an essential role in the evolution of the music of his homeland. The leader of a 25-piece band, the Supreme Fuji Commanders, and a smaller group, the Africa Musical International Ambassadors, Barrister has continued to be one of the leading purveyors of fuji, an exciting, amplified dance music combining juju, apala, and traditional Yoruban blues that he introduced in the late-'70s. Barrister has been singing most of his life. By the age of ten, he had mastered a complex, Yoruban vocal style that was traditionally performed during the holy month of Ramadan. Although he briefly attended a Muslim school, Yaba Polytechnic, in 1961, financial difficulties prevented him from continuing. Leaving school, he found employment as a stenographer. During the Civil War that swept through Nigeria between 1967 and 1970, he served in the Army. Signed by the Nigeria-based Africa Songs, Ltd. label, Barrister recorded many groundbreaking singles during the 1970s and '80s. With his heartfelt vocals set to a rhythmic mix of talking drums, claves, bells, shekere, drum set, and Hawaiian-style guitar, he laid the foundation for fuji, which he named after Mt. Fuji, the Japanese mountain of love. The style has been described as "juju without the guitars" and a "percussion conversation

Fuji legend, Ayinde Barrister, dies at 62

Tributes have been pouring in for Fuji maestro, Sikiru Ayinde Barrister who died in the early hours of Thursday. The 62 year old musician passed away at 8am Thursday morning at St Mary’s Hospital in London, after a protracted illness. His son Barry Showkey, also a musician, was too distraught to comment when NEXT placed a call to him yesterday.

President of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), Dele Abiodun, said on hearing the news, “This is the saddest day of my life. I was close to him for 30 years. It is very painful.” Abiodun called for the late Barrister to be immortalised,while reflecting that, “he was truly sick, but we hoped he would survive and get out of it.” But it was not meant to be. “God did it as it pleased Him... The industry is in mourning,” said the PMAN President.

Meanwhile, the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) in a statement issued yesterday, praised the ‘Fuji Garbage’ exponent as “a leading creator of the Fuji brand of music, a combination of Juju, Apala and traditional Yoruba Blues, which he introduced in the late 1970s.” The statement further noted that “during his lifetime, Barrister recorded so many groundbreaking hit songs which are reference points for today’s young artistes.” Former PMAN President and Chairman of COSON, Tony Okoroji,said the death of Sikiru Ayinde Barrister is “another big loss of a great songwriter, dedicated musician and a great showman. He will be greatly missed.”

Named Sikiru Ayinde at birth before adding the appellation ‘Barrister’ to his name when his career took off, the late musician began singing early in life. A founding member of PMAN, he attended the Yaba College of Technology in Lagos in 1961 and worked as a stenographer before serving in the Nigerian Army during the Civil War (1967 to 1970).

Barrister’s influence stretched beyond music, as attested by filmmaker Tunde Kelani who told NEXT that his upcoming movie, ‘Ma’ami’, is dedicated to the late singer.Barrister’s duet with Yinka Davies, ‘Owo’, is featured in the film. Kelani revealed that he had wanted Barrister to perform the song live for the filming,

but the musician was unable to do so, due to his condition. His brother substituted for him. “If you see his brother playing it in the film, you won’t know it is not Barrister,” said Kelani. “Definitely, ‘Ma’ami is a tribute to him,” the director concluded.

Along with his great artistic rival, Ayinla Kollington, Barrister did much to popularise Fuji as a viable genre in contemporary Yoruba popular music. At the height of his career, he headed a 25-piece band, The Supreme Fuji Commanders and was credited cut scores of albums, including ‘Barry Special’ (1983, ‘Fuji Vibration’ (1985), ‘Maturity’ and ‘Barry Wonder’ (1987), as well as ‘Fuji Garbage’ and its sequels. He also toured Europe and America many times. In recent years, he released the album, ‘Reality and Questionaire’, in which he talked about his long battle with illness.