The mysterious and reclusive Nigerian synthesizer whiz, who has died aged 70, seems to have existed out of time and in a world of his own imagination. For someone like Sixto Rodriguez, subject of the documentary Searching for Sugarman , belated cult stardom was both a vindication and a second chance. But for Onyeabor, growing interest in the music he released during the 70s and 80s cut little ice. Requiring neither money nor attention, he declined to promote Who is William Onyeabor? It says a great deal about his popularity with musicians that the mutating supergroup that toured in his place featured the likes of David Byrne, Damon Albarn, Blood Orange and Hot Chip.
Thanks to fans like these, Onyeabor achieved the almost impossible: he experienced a successful comeback with his enigma intact, and without lifting a finger. For decades all that was known for sure was that between and , he released nine albums of bewilderingly inventive synthesized afrobeat on his own Wilfilms label. Beyond that there were only rumours.
Had he really studied cinematography in Moscow? Or law at Oxford? Did the film for which his debut Crashes in Love was allegedly the soundtrack even exist? How on earth had a DIY auteur in a small Nigerian town made records so unique and forward-looking that they could slot into house music DJ sets decades later?
Metacritic described the album as receiving "Universal acclaim" with Pitchfork citing it as one of the "best reissues" and NPR listing it as one of the best albums of Information ranged about Onyeabor with the only confirmed information being that he had self-released eight albums between and before disavowing music for Christianity.
On Metacritic , Who is William Onyeabor? The album lead the nominations at the A2IM Libera Awards , a not-for-profit trade organization representing the independent music business. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. William Onyeabor. Retrieved June 5, December 10, William Onyeabor composed and self-released nine albums of synth-funk from before his conversion to Christianity. Courtesy of the artist hide caption. William Onyeabor , the electro-funk musician beloved to DJs and crate diggers, died Monday following a brief illness at his home in Enugu, Nigeria.
He was Onyeabor was something like Nigeria's answer to Parliament-Funkadelic , churning out space-age disco-funk in the s and '80s with synths and drum machines. But nobody knew who William Onyeabor was, or at least nobody knew his real story.
After a conversion to Christianity in the mids, he turned his back on music and then history gets murky — some say he went to film school in Soviet Russia, others say he studied law in London.