The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has mourned the passing of legendary musician and art teacher, Prof. Victor Uwaifo, whose death was reported Saturday evening at the age of 80.
The governor, in a statement, expressed shock and sadness over the news of the passing of Prof. Uwaifo, noting that his death was a loss to Edo State, Nigeria and the Black Race.
According to him, “I received the news of the loss of legendary musician and art teacher, Prof. Victor Uwaifo, with shock and sadness.
“He was talented, phenomenal and an illustrious son of Edo State who wowed the world with his array of skills, notably his music talent.
“An all-round artist, Prof. Uwaifo was an enigma, who made music for all, bringing the contemporary Benin culture to the world stage and providing vicarious experience of the peculiarities of our art and culture to a global audience.”
The legendary Sir Uwaifo, was the first Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism in Nigeria.
He was also an academic, earning a First Class in Fine Arts.
Popularly known as the ‘Guitar Boy’, the deceased was also the first professional musician to be awarded the National Merit Honours of Member of the Order of the Niger (MON). He was invited to the State House by four Presidents and Heads of State of Nigeria.
Uwaifo was born in Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria and obtained his secondary school education at the Western Boys’ High School Benin and St Gregory’s College, Lagos, from 1957 to 1961.
He began playing the guitar when he was 12 years old, his earliest popular music influences being Spanish and Latin American music.
While in St Gregory’s College, he played music and was among the leading Lagos high school bandleaders. As a young man, he played in different bands like the late Victor Olaiya, late E.C Arinze, Stephen Osadebe and Fred Coker before forming his band Melody Maestros.
The band released the hit single ‘Joromi’ which became a popular hit and the most sampled song from his vast catalogue of music.
He developed the Akwete rhythm sound and in 1969, launched a new beat called Shadow accompanied by a new dance also called Shadow, a mixture of Akwete and twist.
He was the first among his peers to attain monumental fame when he sold over 1,000 copies of his album, making him the first winner of a gold disc on the internet. He would later win seven other gold discs in the ‘Guitar boy’, ‘Arabade’, ‘Ekassa’ series and ‘Akwete’ music.