Whilst Nigerian-born Afrobeat keyboardist, guitarist, vocalist, composer, bandleader, and journalist., Segun Bucknor may not be a household name like his contemporary Feli Kuti, he was still widely revered and highly popular in Nigeria, Ghana and Benin.
Perhaps this lack of international recognition was due to his relatively brief music career which only spanned over a mere six years – from 1969 to 1975. But the music that Sergun Bucknor and his band created in this short space of time was equally as stirring and, often orientated around Nigerian culture and politics, has since earned him the recognition of being one of the pioneers of Afrobeat. The BBC identified this and have since described his sound as an “interesting slice of Nigerian pop music history and culture!”
Similar to Fela, Bucknor started out playing in the popular highlife style and like Fela, it was a visit to the United States (Bucknor studied arts and music at New York’s Columbia University from 1965 to 1968) that opened his eyes and ears to American soul music. When Bucknor returned to Nigeria in 1968, he was determined to bring this sound to a wider audience. The result was a brand of Afro-Soul that in turn became a proto-type of Afrobeat. With his bands, The Assembly and The Revolution he released a few politically charged tracks, but in 1975 his group disbanded and Bucknor dedicated his time to journalism; for which he specialised in political corruption – tackling the very same issues that fuelled his song-writing (and it was these very strong view points that resulted in numerous threats which also played a major part in his move away from music).
I hope that in sharing this song today I can also share what I consider to be a very prominent and (equally) dynamic musician of this genre. After my initial discovery of Bucknor last year, it was La La La that introduced me his music! Poorman No Get Brother was issued as the b-side and although I can’t seem to find an exact release date to this 45, what I do know is that it was issued in the early 70’s on Polydor Records. At just over five and a half hypnotic minutes, this glorious funk track boasts some very luxuriant guitar licks and sinuous psych-keys; this splendour equalled only by Bucknor’s cutting vocals. Check it out above.
In 2019, Spanish label, Vampi Soul released a record containing “the largest compilation of his music from the early 70s to have been released.” Entitled, Who Say I Tire, the record features 16 Sergun Bucknor tracks (including two versions of La La La!). Check this out here.