Nollywood Exclusive | 15 December 2014 13:04 CET

Stroke-Ridden Asa, Lagbaja’s Music Teacher Says ‘I Can’t Die Now’ (Exclusive)


Legendary Jazz maestro and music teacher of Nigerian music stars; Asa and Lagbaja, Peter King, is optimistic that he is not going to die despite being down with stroke.

He told in an exclusive interview at his Morogbo, Badagry residence on Tuesday that, “I am not going to die. I am just getting better. I will soon be on my foot again. I am not going to give up. They almost killed me in that mad place they call LUTH (Lagos University Teaching Hospital).”

Peter King, who said that Asa and Lagbaja visited him last year with money and various gifts after a media did a story on him, lambasted LUTH, “That is where they call teaching hospital and they couldn't provide us with water, electricity and fans. It was a crazy place,” he said.

Talking about his sojourn into music, Peter King hinted, “I knew where I was going before I went into music. I wanted to be a mechanic, an automobile engineer. It's because I was fascinated then by the Bedford lorry that looks to me like a small house moving on the streets. But God directed me into music.”

Responding to a question on 'if he had the ability to be a good musician then', he said, “I grew up in a family with the Kokoma Band. My father bought us some traditional musical instruments and drums. Then my father was a civil servant, a prison warden. I didn't know what we were doing then in my family until I got to London. It was there I knew from one Reverend Father Dolphin that what I did at home was ear training. That was how you train the ear to identify music sounds. It is called 'Sofa'.

“I was born in Enugu, but started schooling in Lokoja. I schooled also in Lagos, to Port Harcourt (PH). My going to PH was my longest journey because it took us one week to travel from Lagos to PH by train. It was during a stay with an elder brother in Ibadan that I was introduced into music by a man. Then there was no music industry in Nigeria. That is the reason when people talk of a music industry in Nigeria, I laugh.

“Music industry is not all about waxing records or recording songs in the studio. Music industry is a wide sphere. Even the music school is a wide place too. That is why you see University cannot bring out good music talents. You do not teach people what you do not know. Those who use four years to study music at the University cannot pass test when they come to my music school.

“It is because those who taught them don't even know anything about music. It takes me three months to teach anyone to become a music teacher. It takes dedication to do that. You do not just go into music unless you are gifted. If you are gifted, you must learn it. That was the reason I left for London.

“My brother, who was an army officer, lived three blocks from Central Hotel, Ibadan. That was where Roy Chicago played with his high life band. The guy, who introduced me to music, was just a learned friend of Roy Chicago. He took me to the hotel where these guys dressed like Americans. The hotel was patronised by influential people. Then I was about 18 or 19. He gave me a bottle of Coca-cola. While we drank, I told him I could play the drums except the saxophones and trumpets.

“So, he forced me to go to the band boys where I played with the 'maracas' and 'kongas'. That was how one of the drummers agreed to teach me more about the drums and instruments, especially the jazz band. His name was Sam.

“Those days, music was not valued. Roy was working as a teacher. He does music on part time. Music was just for one's personal enjoyment. Those who do music learn it as apprentice. But there was a limit you can learn. That was why the likes of Victor Olaiya did not know the theoretical side of music. They did not go too far.

“So I left my mechanical apprenticeship workplace with the Public Works Department of the Ministry Of Works where I was also paid as a trainee. Then I did not know there was money in music. After being with Roy for about six months, he came to me one day and said, 'I would be receiving salaries'. Mind you, during those six months training period, I still get up to four pounds; that was more that what I get at the PWD where I was paid two Pounds. He started paying me six Pounds.”

Peter King said he tried in vain to combine music and his mechanical apprenticeship but failed. “Meanwhile, my attempt to combine music with mechanical training was unsuccessful. I could not wake up most of the mornings after hectic nights at the club. That was how I stopped going to the PWD. Not even the promptings of my family made me change my mind. My father was one of those that really accepted my music life. He said he knew I was going to be a musician since I was the leader of the family band.”

On Asa and Lagbaja, “She was here last year. She brought money and lots of food items. That is the same with Lagbaja. They have been good to me since I fell sick,” he said.©

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