Chukwu Rebounds With Days Passing By
Eric Man Chukwu was a part of the entertainment industry of the 70s. Back then he and his band members went round nightclubs and parties in the Lagos metropolis and other cities miming to different rock and R‘n’B songs while also doing scintillating dance steps that made them a sought-after group.
Chukwu has not forgotten those gleeful days. In fact, he draws from them like a merchant draws from his treasury.
The Obiarukwu native in Ndokwa Local Council Area of Delta State wants upcoming artistes to learn from music of yester years from composition to the various artistes that made up the period.
Although little known in spite of four decades’ participation, Chukwu said, “At the time we started music, it was hard to go to the studio to record. Thing were not as easy as they are today.
We wanted to play rock because it was then in vogue in the 60s, 70s down to 80s, but getting the platform to record was the problem.
There were very few recording houses and for those of us just coming up then, we had no space because they never gave us the chance to prove ourselves.
“We had a group called Don’t Rick Group with which we thrilled our audiences, playing rock music and winning prizes in university shows. I later left the group for the Wails Band, the Ndokwa Orchestra and later the Kikato”.
Chukwu did not change his genre of music even when it was apparent that people were more interested in Afrocentric music, especially with the experience of colonialism and the cold war still ragging. The artiste maintained his stand on rock and R’n’B.
He noted, “We just wanted to play rock and R’n’B music because of their jocularity, ecstasy and strength. We never wanted to play Afro music, and because we were not able to put our act together we could not get a record label to sign us on.
Besides, there were very few music labels and the competition for a place was very high. You can imagine, we were only playing for those that were interested in rock music. But despite this, we won different prizes in different university shows”.
Having had his fill in the miming business, he began to do backups and settled for drums for established bands. It was from here he joined Tunji Oyelana band.
As he put it, “I joined Tunji Oyelana brand and did “I Love My Country, I No Go Lie,” with the group. I joined the group through the Wole Soyinka project, while the song was recorded by EMI record label”.
Not satisfied merely sharing platform with the actor, singer, composer and activist, Eric moved to Kuboye band and later did backups for many other artistes before branching out into advertising.
According to him, “When I got into advertisement, I abandoned music bEricecause advert business is big business. It gave me the type of money my backups outings were unable to give me. So I depended on it.
While in advertising, I was doing commercials and jingles, which paid my bills. Though into advertising, you could still see that I was not far from music. Aside from leveraging from it, the knowledge I gathered while doing full music helped me to do my jingles and commercials better”.
However, having had his heart’s content with advertising, the rock music crooner is back into music again. Chukwu said he was not doing his secondary or third missionary journey with the aim of playing Rock’n’Rolls or the old school music of the 60s, 70s and 80s. Rather, he opined that he would be with a band, and to show that he was truly back, he has a single to show for it.
Chukwu said, “I have come back to music. I did not just come back, but have come with a band called Umutu. The band has Muyiwa Kayode as member. We play African jazz and are commonly found at Ikoyi Club, when we are not playing in any party.
Apart from this, I have a CD titled, Days Passing By, to show for my comeback. I finished it in 2013 and would make it hit the market after the elections. It is an eight-track CD with songs like Life Na Jeje, Satide and Forever”.
What informed these tracks? “In those days, Saturday was a day set aside for parties, relaxation and having fun; people looked forward to it. So, the track aims at rekindling the excitement of the past, making people to see the need to take time off to relax. While Life Na Jeje aims at cautioning listeners to take one step at a time, do things in orderly manner. It calls on all music lovers to act within their reach and not do things that are beyond their power because they want to impress people around them”.
Knowing too well that he cannot play rock music more that the Americans, Chukwu and his group have fallen back on African music to showcase their talents and origin but they are doing it with a difference this time around.
“My music is eclectic,” he noted. “It is a fusion of African and urban music. I am original and do not belong to the present school of artistes, who make their money through vulgar lyrics. I sing to educate, enlighten, entertain and calm nerves. Our lyrics are didactic and targeted at directing the society aright”.
In comparing music lyrics from the 70s to the 80s and down to the 90s before Chukwu made a detour to advertising, the African jazz music artiste said: “In those days music lyrics were good. They gave relief, taught moral lessons and made listeners feel good. But with the new school generation, the table has turned; things are no longer what they used to be. We now play music that is prone to violence in attempt to make quick money.
“The new generation of artistes should come to terms with the rudiments of music; they should learn how to play musical instruments rather than just come on stage to mime to their songs. They should learn to make their lyrics good and take away words that insult the sensibility of listeners.
“We are Africans and people of good morals. So our music should reflect that. Today, we have technology helping our music; we should learnt to use it to improve our music and not mass produce nonsense in the name of music”.
While speaking on piracy, the music returnee called on government agencies responsible in handling piracy to be more proactive and make artistes get the reward of their works. According to him, “Piracy is not a new thing in the country and in the industry.
In fact, it has been with us since the 1960s. Government and stakeholders concerned should help to make anti-piracy work and for artistes to reap the rewards of their hard work.”