I first saw Olatunji as the opening act at a Grateful Dead new year’s eve concert at the end of 1985. (That night was also the first time I saw the Neville Brothers, which started me on a strange odyssey through the Meters to Jazzfest and James Booker, but that’s another story.) He enraptured the basketball-arena sized crowd, teaching the audience call-and-response chants. He brought a sense of the sacred and the ancient to his sophisticated riddims.
Sue W. forwarded this from another list today:
We’ve just learned that our respected and beloved friend and brother Babatunde Olatunji passed away Sunday, April 6, at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur. We wish that his spirit may forever be rewarded for the good life he led among the people, and may his soul pass into perfect peace forever. Let us resolve to carry forward his love for people, for the earth, and his belief in the healing power of rhythm and music.
Peace and Love to You,
Baba Ken Okulolo and Jackie Wilson
(No, not that Jackie Wilson!)
Say amen somebody.