Celestine Ukwu

b. Celestine Obiakor, 1940, Efik, Nigeria, d. 1979, Onitsha, Nigeria. Guitarist and vocalist Ukwu was on the verge of national breakthrough (with his band the Music Royals) when the Nigerian civil war brought touring and recording to a virtual standstill. He re-emerged in 1970 with Philospher’s Stone, playing a relaxed and sensuous form of highlife which, incongruously but effectively, used pedal steel guitar in its arrangements (a novelty later adopted by fellow Nigerian and juju star King Sunny Ade). His biggest hit was the single ‘Money Palaver’ in 1976, from Igede Fantasia.

Ukwu’s untimely death later that year ensured that his potential was never fully realized.

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