It was a painful day on November 16, 1971 when the iconic Akure music maestro, Wale Glorious, kissed the world goodbye at a tender age of 29. This year makes it 50 years that the founder of Ayesoro Spots Band died. Elder Oluwole Elekumo was a close associate of the Akure music legend and Wale’s last band boy still alive out of twelve band boys who worked with the mufti icon. He spoke with Tunde Ayedoju in an exclusive interview about the life of the late musician. Excepts:
You were a friend of Wale Glorious for many years, how would you describe him?
I was an apprentice under Wale Glorious, not his friend. He was fair in complexion like me, not tall. He kept beard. He was a juju musician of note in the then Ondo state and Nigeria at large. I was under him as a band member with others until that faithful day that he died. We were about 12 in number in that band. We the singers and instrumentalists on the stage were nine: eight of us, while Wale Glorious himself was the ninth person. We used to perform during weekends, Friday to Sunday, unless there was going to be an emergency performance.
We have heard series of stories about his death. What actually led to his death?
We knew that what killed him was worm in the chest. His death was a surprise to us all. We all knew he was ill, seeking medical attention but we didn’t know he was going to die at that time.
In those years of apprenticeship, what did you love about Wale Glorious, and what did you not like about him?
I loved him so much. There was nothing he did that I didn’t like till he died. Even when there were quarrels, we easily settled them. He could hardly get angry or quarrel with anybody, and even whenever he was angry, the anger would subside easily. Of course, everybody cannot like you as an individual, but those who loved Wale Glorious were more than those who did not like him.
Wale Glorious was a star during his life time, attested to by Chief Ebenezer Obey, King Sunny Ade and I.K. Dairo.
Will you say he was poisoned as many said when he died?
No, he was not poisoned and he could not have been poisoned, because he was not the type that ate carelessly. Most of the time, I was there with him whenever he was eating. He would not eat in anybody’s house. Even in our parties, if we were served food, he would not eat it. If at all he was going to eat anything in our parties, he would ask for only meat and I would be the one to go and give it to him. We the band members were the ones who ate at parties.
At age 29, Wale Glorious already had three wives. What really attracted women to him during his life time?
It’s because he was an instrumentalist. Women can be very fond of instrumentalists, drivers and meat sellers.
The man Wale Glorious died 50 years ago. Do you think Akure people have really immortalised him?
They tried to immortalise him. By November 16, this year, it would have been 50 years that he died. Some people have taken steps to ensure that his name is immortalised. God will grant us success.
What can Akure people do to immortalise him?
What you are doing is part of it. Some other people are also interested in taking similar steps and have approached me.
After the death of Wale Glorious, music died in Akure and its environs. How can his music be revived?
What we are doing now is one of the ways to achieve that. I used to have records of songs we did together back then, but several people have come to collect those records. I will have to get them back from such people.
Why has it been difficult for sons of musicians to succeed them?
Music is a gift. There are children of musicians who cannot sing and there are people who know how to sing very well, yet their parents were not musicians. That is the reason. Among the children of Wale Glorious some have tried to follow his footsteps. If they continue, God will grant them success.
Is it true that Olu Olatunbosun, one of the band boys of Wale Glorious, co-established the band?
No. Olu Olatunbosun was a band boy to Wale Glorious, just like me but he is now late. I am the only member of the band still alive.