William Onyeabor

William Onyeabor



William Onyeabor (29 March 1946 – 16 January 2017) was a funk musician from Nigeria.[1]

Onyeabor's songs are often heavily rhythmic and synthesized, occasionally epic in scope, with lyrics decrying war and sung by both Onyeabor himself and female backing vocalists. In the 2010s years a number of his songs have appeared on various compilations, most often his biggest hit, "Better Change Your Mind", which has appeared on Africa 100, World Psychedelic Classics 3: Love's a Real Thing - The Funky Fuzzy Sounds of West Africa,[2][3] and Nigeria 70: The Definitive Story of 1970's Funky Lagos,[4] through labels such as Luaka Bop.

Onyeabor was born into a poor family, but became financially successful enough to travel to Europe to study record manufacturing.[5] Some biographies claim that he studied cinematography in Russia, returning to Nigeria in the 1970s to start his own Wilfilms music label and to set up a recording and production studio. He was later crowned a High Chief in Enugu, where he lived as a businessman working on government contracts and running his own semolina flour mill. [6][5] His business successes saw him named West African Industrialist of the Year in 1987.[5] According to the Luaka Bop record label, Onyeabor "self-released eight albums between 1977 and 1985 and then became a born-again Christian, refusing to ever speak about himself or his music again." The label reports that through attempting to speak with Onyeabor himself, and by talking to people who seem to have firsthand knowledge, it has been trying to construct an accurate biography of him for the past 18 months, without success.[7]

In 2014, the music website Noisey, affiliated to Vice magazine, released a 31-minute documentary entitled Fantastic Man that documents Onyeabor's history and legacy as well as Noisey's attempt to track him down for an interview.[8] 2014 also saw a touring supergroup called the Atomic Bomb! Band come together to play Onyeabor's music at a series of concerts and festivals around the world. The group includes David Byrne (of Talking Heads), Money Mark (of the Beastie Boys),[9] Damon Albarn (of Blur and Gorillaz), Dev Hynes (aka Blood Orange and Lightspeed Champion),[5] Alexis Taylor (of Hot Chip), Charles Lloyd and Amadou and Mariam.[10] Other admirers of Onyeabor's work include Dan Snaith, Four Tet and Tune-Yards.[5]

In December 2014, William Onyeabor made his first radio appearance on the Lauren Laverne Show on BBC 6 Music, where he stated "I only create music that will help the world," whilst also admitting that he has never played live, and announcing that he had plans to release new material.[11]

William Onyeabor died aged 70, peacefully, on January 16 2017, and leaves four children and four grandchildren.[12]



Crashes in Love
Crashes in Love is an album by musical artist William Onyeabor, released on December 16, 2016.
Crashes In Love
Crashes In Love is an album by musical artist William Onyeabor, released on December 16, 2016.
Atomic Bomb
Atomic Bomb is an album by musical artist William Onyeabor, released on December 16, 2016.
Body & Soul
Body & Soul is an album by musical artist William Onyeabor, released on December 16, 2016.

Photos - William Onyeabor50

Popular Albums13

Album Appearances & References2

Popular Songs5

You May Also Be Interested In12


Spotify - Albums & Singles21


Spotify - Appears On1


Spotify - Top Tracks10


News Articles17

Enigmatic Synth Funk Hero, William Onyeabor, Dead at 70
  –  January 18, 2017
Nigerian man of mystery, William Onyeabor, passed away at his home in Enugu, Nigeria Monday night. He was 70 years old. Following his final release, Anything You Sow, Onyeabor removed himself from the public eye and became notorious for dodging ...
Remembering Nigerian Funk Musician William Onyeabor
  –  January 18, 2017
On Monday, January 16th, the Luaka Bop label announced the passing of Nigerian funk musician William Onyeabor. At 70 years old, Onyeabor passed in his sleep after suffering a brief illness at his home in Enugu, Nigeria. In the ’70s, Onyeabor managed to ...
William Onyeabor, Nigerian Funk Musician, Dead at 70
  –  January 18, 2017
William Onyeabor, the Nigerian funk artist who, after self-releasing a wellspring of albums from 1977 to 1985, achieved worldwide acclaim nearly 30 years after he permanently left the music industry, died Monday following a brief illness in his home in ...
R.I.P. William Onyeabor: 5 Reasons His Legend Will Live On
  –  January 18, 2017
Nigerian synth-funk pioneer William Onyeabor passed away on Monday at the age of 70. The record label Luaka Bop, who released 2013’s Who is William Onyeabor? compilation, broke the news in an announcement stating that Onyeabor “died peacefully in ...
William Onyeabor, Nigerian funk music pioneer, RIP
  –  January 18, 2017
I remember Uchenna writing on his blog about attempts to talk to and license stuff from Onyeabor, and how difficult and disheartening it was, he basically gave up (I think he was going to do it on his own Comb & Razor Sound label). It was never clear to me ...
Legendary Nigerian funk musician William Onyeabor dies at age 70
  –  January 18, 2017
William Onyeabor, a synth funk musician dies at the age of 70. The musician, according to The Luaka Bop label died in his sleep on Monday January 16, 2017. Onyeabor began his career in 1977, where he composed, and self-released nine albums of electronic ...
Nigerian electro-funk pioneer William Onyeabor dies
  –  January 18, 2017
Enigmatic Nigerian electro-funk musician William Onyeabor died in his sleep this week, his record label Luaka Bop announced on Wednesday. Onyeabor, a Nigerian star who exploded onto the international stage late in his career, was 70 when he died at his ...
Shocking!! Great Nigerian Funk Pioneer William Onyeabor Has Died At Age 70
  –  January 18, 2017
Nigerian funk pioneer William Onyeabor has died at age 70. The death of the electronic-funk performer was confirmed by David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label, which released a compilation of the enigmatic synth player’s music in 2013, World Psychedelic Classics ...
William Onyeabor, cult Nigerian musician, has died aged 70
  –  January 18, 2017
The enigmatic electro-funk pioneer, who released nine albums between 1977 and 1985 before distancing himself from music, has died peacefully at home The Nigerian artist died on 16 January, according to a statement released by David Byrne’s record label ...
William Onyeabor, Mysterious Funk Musician, Dies At 70
  –  January 18, 2017
William Onyeabor, the electro-funk musician beloved to DJs and crate diggers, died Monday following a brief illness at his home in Enugu, Nigeria. He was 70. Onyeabor was something like Nigeria's answer to Parliament-Funkadelic, churning out space-age ...
The Legend of Cult Funk Musician William Onyeabor, Who Died This Week at Age 70
  –  January 18, 2017
As far as cultishly adored funk musicians from Africa go, William Onyeabor has been slightly undersold. The barest biography is this: Onyeabor was born on March 26, 1946. He died at 70, following a short illness, on Jan. 16, 2017. During his life, he self ...
Iconic Nigerian Musician William Onyeabor Has Died
  –  January 18, 2017
News broke earlier this morning that legendary Nigerian musician William Onyeabor has passed away. According to Nigerian site Naji, the "Atomic Bomb" singer died on Monday the 16th of January at his home in Enugu, Nigeria. They report his son Charles as ...
Legendary Nigerian Musician, William Onyeabor Dies At 72
  –  January 18, 2017
'I only create music that will help the world' . The late music icon is survived by 4 children and 4 grand-children. There are conflicting reports about his age but he was born between the years 1945 and 1946.
William Onyeabor has died aged 70
  –  January 18, 2017
Nigerian legend William Onyeabor has died aged 70, a spokesperson has confirmed on Facebook. The influential musician passed away at his home in Enugu, Nigeria following a short illness. Read a biography of Onyeabor on Luaka Bop's site. Despite remaining ...
Nigerian Music Legend, William Onyeabor ‘Fantastic Man’ Is Dead
  –  January 18, 2017
Legendary singer, William Onyeabor, who was famous in the 1970s and ‘80s with his futuristic, synth-heavy electronic music has died. The singer was the toast of Nigerians with his smash hit singles, ‘When the going is smooth and good’ and ...
William Onyeabor, enigmatic Nigerian synth-funk pioneer, dies aged 70
  –  January 18, 2017
Luaka Bop pay tribute to “an extraordinary artist, businessman and visionary”. William Onyeabor, the enigmatic Nigerian musician whose groundbreaking ‘70s synth-funk albums achieved global acclaim after being rediscovered and reissued in 2013, has ...
LIB exclusive: Legendary Nigerian musician, William Onyeabor dies at 72
  –  January 18, 2017
Legendary Nigerian musician, William Onyeabor famously known for his song ‘When the going is smooth and good’ has died. His first son, Charles who is currently in Italy confirmed his death exclusively to LIB saying, ‘yea, my dad is dead. He died ...

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