Home / Babatunde Olatunji Dead: The Drum Stops

Babatunde Olatunji Dead: The Drum Stops

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The legendary Nigerian drummer has died at 76:

    Babatunde Olatunji, 76, the Nigerian drummer whose 1959 Columbia Records album, “Drums of Passion,” helped introduce African music into the American mainstream, died of complications of diabetes April 6 in Salinas, Calif. He taught at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, Calif., where he was artist in residence.

    Mr. Olatunji, who was well known as a teacher of traditional African drumming, was raised in a fishing and trading village, Ajido. The village’s Yorba traditions of musical communication and storytelling were later reflected in the work of Mr. Olatunji’s touring group of drummers, singers and dancers.

    He came to the United States in 1950 as a scholarship student at Morehouse College in Atlanta and later studied public administration at New York University.

    The ensemble he formed in New York performed initially at civil rights rallies led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and with an orchestra at Radio City Music Hall. It also toured schools.

    “Drums of Passion,” which was a top-selling record in its time, is regarded as one of the first world music albums recorded in the United States. It influenced musicians and helped spark African-jazz fusions in the early 1960s.

    Mr. Olatunji headed his own jazz group for a while and then went on to play with artists such as Mickey Hart, Airto Moreira and Carlos Santana. [Washington Post]

I love African drumming and Olatunji was THE source – he will be missed.

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About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted, Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.
  • OLUSEYI FASUGBA

    I WAS EXCITED TO DISCOVER YOUR WORK ON A NIGERIAN WHO LIVED HIS LIFE PROPAGATING THE NIGERIAN CULTURE IN THE USA. I WILL WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT HIS WORKS,LIFE AND TIMES.THOUGH OLATUNJI IS DEAD BUT I KNOW OF MANY YOUNG AND TALENTED ARTISTS IN NIGERIA TODAY WHO WILL DO AS MUCH AS OLATUNJI DID IN HIS LIFETIME.THE TRADITION AND CULTURE OF THE YORUBAS ARE DEEPLY ROOTED IN THE ARTS AND THE DRUMS PLAY A MAJOR AND SIGNIFICANT ROLE.