Sir Victor Uwaifo: The Multi-talented Musical Legend

By Kingsley, Lagos Nigeria.

Nigeria and the African music industry, no doubt has quite a number of veterans and one of them is the multi-talented Guitar maestro, Sir Victor Uwaifo. He is indeed a Jack of Trades!  He is a Sportsman, Fine Artist, Sculptor, Technologist, Innovator, Multi-Instrumentalist, Musician and an Academician! Wow!

Born on the 1st of March 1941 in Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria. A one-time Commissioner for Arts and Culture in Edo State Under the Lucky Igbinedion Government. He had his high school education between 1957 and 1961 at the Western Boys’ High School, Benin, and St Gregory’s College, Lagos. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Fine and Applied Arts (First Class Honors) in 1994 and a Master’s degree in Fine and Applied Arts all obtained from the University of Benin in 1997.

He was inspired by listening to gramophone records of Spanish and Latin American music at a very young age and began playing the guitar at the age of 12, although his parents were not comfortable with him doing music as they wanted him to focus on his studies but he moved on with resilience. While studying he led a number of school bands and even jammed with Victor Olaiya & His All Star Band during the weekends and school holidays. When he left Benin, he continued playing music at St Gregory’s, Lagos where he and Segun Bucknor were among the Lagos High school band leaders.

He studied Graphics at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos between 1961 and 1963 where he emerged as the best graduating student. Upon graduation, he worked at NTA(Nigerian Television Authority) then briefly worked with Stephen Osadebe and Fred Coker.

Guitar Boy Video

His major break, however, came when he signed onto Philips (West Africa) label in 1965. He also formed his own band, “The Melody Maestros” in 1965. They recorded great hits like Siwo-Siwo, Guitar boy, and Joromi. The Melody Maestros released ‘Joromi’ which became a mega hit in Nigeria and Western Africa and became popular in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.

The Melody Maestros band stormed the Japan Expo in 1970, FESTAC 77, the Black Art Festival in Algiers in 1969 and at the African Common Wealth Festival, London in 1973. Sir Victor also toured the United States of America, Japan, Ghana, Abidjan, Europe and the former United Soviet Socialist Republic. Due to Joromi’s popularity, a Ghanaian fabric was nicknamed Joromi, while Guitar Boy was used as a code name for a military coup in Ghana in the 1970s. Joromi is most popular amongst his fans as he showcased his ability to play the guitar with both his feet and his tongue. Now that’s legendary!

Joromi Video

He invented the double neck “Magic Guitar” with 18 strings which he can rotate 360 degrees at the speed of sound. In 1971, he established Joromi Hotel in Benin City and also established a TV and Recording Studio where he produced the famous Victor Uwaifo shows in the late ‘70s and ‘80s.

Sir Victor made history in Africa when he won the first Golden record in Nigeria, West Africa and Africa (presented by Philips, West Africa) for his hit song ‘Joromi’ in 1996. He has over 500 songs, 100 records to his credit and a total of 12 golden records to date.

Whenever the agile 76-year-old is asked about retirement, he reiterates severally that he has no intention of retiring anytime soon, even till the age of 90 or even more. So we should be expecting more great music from the Musical Genius! More Blessings upon Sir Victor Uwaifo.

 

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