Wale Thompson is a popular name in the Juju music industry. He became very popular for his Juju- Afro-pop fusion, Lalale Friday and he has since then taken his music business beyond the shores of Nigeria.
He has had his high and low moments but he never gives up, Many didn’t know that he was the son of another popular musician.
Last week Thursday, this handsome and talented musician dropped another album. It was launched at the City People Event Center in Gbagada, Lagos.
Before the event started, he had an exclusive interview with the City People team led by the Publisher, Dr SEYE KEHINDE, DAMILARE SALAMI and the Head of Photography Unit, FEMI ADELEKE.
In the interview, he opened up on his life, career and family. Below are excerpts, enjoy.
Congratulations on your new album. We’d like you to tell us what the album contains and how you came about it.
The new album is titled My Destiny. I thought about so many things I went through while I was coming up as a musician, even as a band boy who has played with different artistes and up till now, I am still relevant in the industry. I quite agree that my destiny can never be changed. I know I have a long way to go, God still has good plans for me and I have a very good prospect. These are what inspired one of the songs in the album titled My Destiny.
You’ve been in the music industry for how long?
Professionally, I would say since 1979.
And how has it been since then?
It has been great; it has been awesome with some ups and downs. I started with my father as a guitarist and I left his band to join other bands before starting my own. So I have had enough experiences and enough challenges. Different bands have formed different opinions about me, some felt threatened when they saw the way I played the guitar but when you are focused and you know what you are doing, you will not allow all that to distract you or swing you away from what you are meant to do or achieve,
Since ’79, how many albums have you dropped?
I have dropped My Time, Juju Collection, My Logo, Play On, No Rival and My Destiny. That’s making six albums in all.
Which will you call the most successful album today?
Well, to be honest, the album that shot me to the limelight was the second album, Juju Collection. But I love all of my works simply because I always don’t rush to the studio to produce my work. I take my time to criticize my work, sometimes after I might have finished recording and we are about to start mass production, I would just spot something I don’t like and we will return to the studio to start recording all over again and that has happened about three times. So, all my albums are good but the Juju Collection shot me into the limelight.
Is that the one you had ‘Lalale Friday’ in it?
At the time you were doing it, did you have the premonition that it will be very successful?
Honestly, in the album, there was a particular track that myself, my team and some of my fans thought would be the hit because anytime I play it, it always attracts massive dancers and acceptability but along the line, I sang ‘Lalale Friday’ and I never thought that it would blow me up the way it did. Along the line, I met Keke Ogungbe in the year 2000 because I released the album on my record label in 1999. I remember when City People were having their anniversary at Oregun, there, I met Mayor Akinpelu and he told me that he has listened to the album and that it was very good. He said he would be angry with me if I didn’t give it adequate publicity. I told him point-blank that there was no money, I struggled to do this all by myself, and there was no support from anywhere. He asked if I have spoken with Kenis Music, I told him that they don’t like contemporary music, they are only keen about Afro Pop. In fact, I had been to their office but I couldn’t get anyone to talk to. He gave me an appointment for the following Saturday at Ajao Estate and that was it. He made the meeting with Kenis Music happen and I got a contract. Then, Keke advised that for it to be easier for them to promote, I’ll need to sing some of those songs on the hip-hop beat which I agreed with. I embraced the idea because I had done something similar in 1996 but I couldn’t release the album. It was titled ‘obsession’ and it had a blend of hip-hop and Juju flavour. I gave the album to some record labels but they delayed its release. After a while, I felt the music I was playing was better than what I had in the album so I just left it unreleased. I featured Remedies after Kenis Music made us do a collabo, we had a blend of Juju and Afro-Pop and Lalale Friday was widely accepted everywhere. It was a stepping stone for me to get to where I am today.
So what happened after the release of that song? What were you up to?
Yeah, I was busy playing everywhere, doing concerts and shows and becoming more acceptable to my fans all over the world. I travelled to Germany in 2000 and the UK came back to Nigeria and was playing all over the place. I was getting more shows and busy playing every day until 2002 when I had an accident. I believe that it was the heavy schedules that caused the accident because we were busy playing every day but thank God I’m alive today to tell the story.
Can you tell us about the accident? Where did it take place, was it in Lagos or where?
It was along the Lagos-Ibadan expressway. I don’t like talking about the scene because we lost two people in the accident and every time I remember, it’s like opening a fresh wound.
But how do you see the Juju music industry now? Because it appeared that there was a time Juju suffered a setback and hip-hop, Fuji picked up and it’s like it’s been difficult for the Juju musicians to take it back from the Hip-Hop and Fuji guys.
Well, let’s just be honest with ourselves, no genre of music will dominate forever. Secondly, any genre of music that is getting support from the media, from the marketers and promoters will surely get an upper hand. And that’s what I believed happened to hip-hop and fuji music. Most Juju musicians are just struggling by themselves to promote their music and that has made Juju music have that kind of setback. People like King Sunny Ade, Chief Ebenezer Obey, Sir Shina Peters, myself Wale Thompson, Yinka Best, Mega 99, Yinka Ayefele and others are doing all we could do to keep hoisting the flag of Juju music.
Tell us about the influence of your Dad on you and your music. How did it all start? Where were you born and what was growing up like?
I was born in Ijebu-Igbo, Ijapara precisely. I was the first child of the family and my Dad showed me so much love. Seeing my dad rehearse with his band gives me a lot of joy. He was a Juju musician too. He played alongside Chief Ebenezer Obey, King Sunny Ade, and a few others. To be honest, the very first day he gave me the guitar to try my hands on it, I saw it as a rare privilege because if he wasn’t a musician, he wouldn’t have probably gotten that guitar for me. He wouldn’t have shown me how to play it.
Could you remember the year?
That was in 1978 and by 1979; I had already become a professional guitarist.
Was your dad a guitarist also?
Yes, he plays the guitar and he sings so well too.
What was his name?
Is he the same Popular Jingo that people used to talk about at that time?
So what was the story around him then? Because I can remember I heard the gist.
The gist came in different ways.
What was the correct gist?
I don’t even know because I asked my dad if he said it and he told me that it was the person that was interviewed him that was trying to mimic him and that there was no way he could have said it in the public. I just told him that the rumours are beyond denial, he should just go ahead and claim it because it could probably be the way God has planned to make him famous.
Talking about how he influenced me, seeing him play music and the way he did had a great impact on me. The way he relates with his fans, people around him and even his band members have shaped the way I play my music. Even up till now, some of his band members still hang around him and they still go out together,
How old is he now?
He is 79 going to 80.
What’s his real name and the name of the band?
His real name is David Agbolade Anwo and the name of his band is the popular Jingo and the Dynamic Royal Band.
Let me take you back a little. How did you bounce back after the accident?
After I came back from the UK, I was told to go and record another album that I titled Play-On. In the album, there is a track that I called Old Skool that was launched for me by City People Magazine at the White House in Lagos. With the noise from that album launch and the love people have for me and the old school track, I was able to find my energy back and it has kept me in the business till date.
Talking about the kind of Juju music that you play; when you saw the challenge that came with the new guys on the scene, the change and the taste, how did you respond?
Fair enough, the new musicians on the scene or let me say the Afro-Pop musicians will still pick one or two things from my own Lalale Friday. I can’t deviate from my own brand of Juju music. Although in the new album that just dropped, I have two Afro-Pop songs, but the people that know me from way back are still here and I can’t disappoint them. So whenever they call on me, I will keep playing the brand of Juju that I have been identified with for them and whenever I see the young generation too, I play the kind of music they want for them. That is why I call myself the bridge between the old and the new generation.
Looking at the life of a proper musician, how are you able to balance the fame, your family and career?
It is just the grace of God because I won’t tell you that I am a saint, I am the best or righteous. I just do my things the way God has created me. I don’t want to copy other people, I don’t want to follow the steps of others, I just want to be myself, the Wale Thompson that people know. I am privileged to have a good family, a good wife, good siblings and parents; it’s just the grace of God.
What would you say is the regret you have in life?
I will still refer you to my new album, My Destiny. I will never have regret because what is meant to be will be and what will never be, will never be. Since I was born till date, all that has happened to me are destined to be and those that didn’t happen are not meant to be, so I don’t have any regret.
Many Don’t Know My Dad Is The Famous Popular Jingo – Master Guitarist & Singer, WALE THOMPSON was last modified: June 22nd, 2021 by