Aug 1, 2011

Noise and rhythm

Nicholas Addo-Nettey

With Fela Kuti, the Afrobeat he brought to Berlin. For years he talked with drum workshops for children on water. Now experiencing a comeback Pax Nicholas. A visit to the Mark Brandenburg district.

It was a debacle. The audience booed and bellowed at the Philharmonie in between, as occurred in 1978 with Fela Kuti's band Africa 70 at the Berlin Jazz Festival. Too new, too free, too alien to conservative ears was the Afrobeat, this explosive mix of Afro-American funk, soul, jazz, highlife and other African styles. Even worse for Fela Kuti was that after the concert, eleven of his musicians left the band. It was the end of Africa 70 Among the deserters was next to the Star-drummer Tony Allen and the lesser-known conga player and backing vocalist Nicholas Addo-Nettey. He still lives in Berlin - in a one-room apartment in the prefab buildings of the Mark Brandenburg district.

Background of the exit, the massive state repression faced by Fela and his band were in Nigeria. In most of his songs, he denounced the neo-colonial relations in a provocative openness in Africa and the brutal military regime that ruled in his country. So he became a hero of the masses and the enemy of the rulers.

His musicians often suffered under the Patriarch Fela Kuti. "I will always revere him as my master, but there was a major contradiction: He talked a lot about liberation, but treated us like slaves," says Nicholas Addo-Nettey. The musicians were underpaid and in no way involved in the huge international success of the plates.

Nicholas Addo-Nettey came as a 17-year-old to Lagos, then the center of the African music scene. Born in Accra, Ghana's capital, he had already started as primary school children in gospel choirs and drum groups, his musical career. As a teenager, he was like most of his contemporaries in Ghana crazy according to American soul music. Otis Redding and James Brown were named by his idols. Consequently, he tried himself as a soul singer and was named Pax Nicholas. Curious, he followed the invitation of a fellow musician, who took him to Lagos in 1971 and introduced him there, Fela Kuti.

Nicholas was able to convince the Afrobeat godfather fast as drummers and singers of his abilities and was 70-member Africa. They could not possibly be any better time. Shortly after he was inducted into the band started the recordings for "Shakara," one of Fela Kuti biggest hits, the look, the international music scene for the first time allowed to Lagos. Stars such as BB King, Manu Dibango, Stevie Wonder and James Brown arrived at the "Shrine" club Kuti in Lagos over, to experience the new sound and eccentric live stage shows.

The young Nicholas saw these years of success in a frenzy, what is meant quite literally. "There have been any of us that was not nearly consistently high," he recalled today, laughing at his time in the "Shrine" and the "Kalakuta Republic", a plot of land in Lagos, the Kuti in provocative megalomania for regardless of the Nigerian state had said. There, about a hundred band members and family living under the reign of Weltverbesserers.

The military regime reacted with extreme harshness to the constant challenge to their authority, which stood for Fela Kuti and his "independent republic". During a raid in 1977 was almost the entire estate burned and thrown from a window cutis mother. She died shortly afterwards from the effects. In the same year Kuti and much of his band were arrested. Nicholas also spent nine months in prison, where he was severely beaten.

It was these conditions that Nicholas and the other musicians a year later persuaded to leave Africa 70, Africa's most successful band at this time. While drummer Tony Allen moved to Paris and there is still successful as a musician, as was Nicholas, where he had risen from large Bandjet cutis. He married a Berliner, and had two sons. He is now divorced and talking with percussion workshops for children and smaller musical engagement on water. In 2003 he formed with musicians from West Africa and Germany, the band Ridimtaksi, the course has also prescribed a Afrobeat, but except for a collaboration with the Finnish indie pop star Jimi Tenor in 2004 could still reach no greater public.

In recent years however, there was a happy coincidence. The Funk and Afro Beat DJ Frank Gossner had tracked down in a small record store in the United States a copy of a solo album of Pax Nicholas from 1973, which this time secretly and against Kuti's will with some Africa-70-musicians in the studio Cream drummer Ginger Baker recorded in Lagos was: "Well Teef Teef Know Of De Road". Nicholas says that Kuti reacted very angrily when one of his DJanes hung up the plate and he first heard them so. "Play that again," he reportedly said.

And indeed, "Na Teef" never played on a radio station and disappeared into obscurity for decades. Gossner introduced the extremely rare album to their friends at the New York label Daptone Records, which makes for some years with the soul singer Sharon Jones and the furore house band the sound of Amy Winehouse's hit album "Back To Black" provided. The retro-specialists were enthusiastic and brought a year ago a new edition of the out-lost record.

Since then, the hitherto peaceful life of Mr. Addo has Nettey from the Märkisches district, now back Pax Nicholas wants to be called, changed a lot. His album can be found in every well-stocked record store, old fellow from Africa-70-hours call after years of silence and congratulations, he is in regular contact with Neal Sugarman, one of the two heads of Daptone Records.


The translation was technically supported. Due to this there may be some mistakes in the english version, whereby the orginal version was in German. Everyone interested in the German version, check out the link. But still the english version seems to interesting to hide. Enjoy!!!

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