Who is William Onyeabor? Nigerian Synth Pioneer Passes Away

William Onyeabor
William Onyeabor

William Onyeabor, one of Nigeria’s most innovative funk musicians has passed away. The Waveform Transmitter pays its respects to a true pioneer of African music.

William Onyeabor, the enigmatic synth funk producer, has sadly passed away on the 16th of January, aged 70.

Onyeabor completely revolutionised the way the African music looked upon and utilised the synth. In this respect, and in respect of his outstanding musicianship and production skills, it can be said that he was a genuine forward-thinker; a man who truly spearheaded the synth funk sound coming out of Africa at the time.

Onyeabor’s career began in 1977 in Nigeria. During his prolific career, he recorded 9 albums, all of which he not only recorded under his own duress but also utilised his self-owned pressing plant to press vinyl records and print the cover art.

Such an important figure was William Onyeabor, that he was granted the ‘Justice of the Peace’ – a title that earned him the name ‘The Chief’.

2013 saw the release of a retrospective album that featured the best of Onyeabor’s work – ‘Who is William Onyeabor?’ The album proved incredibly popular and Onyeabor gained a cult following. In addition to this, the ‘Noisey!’ documentary that chronicled the life of the musician, ‘Fantastic Man’, was released in 2014, and featured interviews with his peers including Femi Kuti.

The team at The Waveform Transmitter would like to offer its deepest condolences to William’s family at this sad time.

Author: Ste Knight

Editor at The Waveform Transmitter. Lover of acid basslines, cavernous kick drums, and dark rooms. Cut his teeth to Surgeon's blistering techno assault at T-Funkshun in Liverpool and hasn't stopped for breath since.

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