Celebrating the King at 69

In commemoration of the juju King’s birthday, Pulse Nigeria highlights the accomplishments of the legend.

King Sunny Ade

Since the 60s, King Sunny Ade has remained a major influence in Nigerian music most especially in the growth of the ‘juju’ music.

In commemoration of the juju King’s birthday, Pulse highlights the musical accomplishments of the legend.

The 60s


King Sunny Ade is not just a singer; he is a composer, songwriter and a multi-instrumentalist. He quit school in 1963 to follow his passion - music. When he began his musical career professionally in the 60s, he first played with Moses Olaiya's highlife band, Federal Rhythm Dandies. In 1967, he set up his own band called the Green Spots.

The 70s

He eventually added new members and instruments to his band. He changed the name of the band to the African Beats. With combination of different instruments including guitars, pedal steel guitars keyboards, talking drums and other percussion instruments, he created his signature juju trend.

In 1974, the bandleader also known as KSA launched his own record label called Sunny Alade records.

By 1975, he had released several albums and even toured the United Kingdom for three months. As at this time he had established Ariya nightclub in Lagos.


The 80s

By the 80s, there was an explosion in Ade’s career. He became a music idol in Nigeria and began to gather a following abroad. He influenced not just music in Nigeria but also in America and Europe.

By 1982 he was signed to Island Records which was once home to the great Bob Marley.  The Ondo-born musician’s “Syncro System” album was nominated in the folk/ethnic music category at the Grammy Awards in 1983. He collaborated with Stevie Wonder on ‘Aura’ and Cameroonian saxophonist Manu Didango on ‘Wakafrika’.

After his signing to Island records, his music made it’s big Hollywood debut. It was featured in "Breathless" starring Richard Gere in 1983 and "One More Saturday Night" starring Robert Altman in 1986. In 1987 he and his band actually made a cameo appearance as themselves in "O.C. & Stiggs".

The 80s also proved to be a both a successful and difficult time for the King. With all the success, he was dropped by his record label and back in Lagos his band split.


This didn’t stop the king from keeping his throne.  He formed a new group called Golden Mecury.

The 90s

He continued his international tours. He released his first US studio recorded album in ten years titled "E dide" in 1995. KSA was nominated for another Grammy in 1998 for his collection of traditional Yoruba songs titled “Odu”.

Present day

King Sunny Ade has over 123 albums to his credit. He chairs the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria. The music legend owns a radio station called ‘M&C FM’.  He band is presently know as 'African Beats' once again.


Happy birthday King Sunny Ade!

Watch this clip of King Sunny Ade & His African Beats performing 'Me le se' below:


Unblock notifications in browser settings.

Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or: