Born Oluwashina Akanbi Peters, the music maestro invented Afro-juju brand in the late 1980s after years of tutelage and false starts. The immensely popular… 1989 release ‘Ace’ shot him into the limelight and placed him in the pantheon of music greats. In this interview, with Hazeez Balogun he recalls his long and torturous road to success.
“Shina Peters prides himself as the creator of the Juju hybrid, ‘Afro juju music’, a fact which has since made him unique among his peers. Though he is popular today with his four major albums, Ace, Shinamania, Experience and Dancing Time, many from this generation do not know that Shina Peters was a known musician in the mid- 70’s. Then, he was in a duo called Shina Adewale. He formed the band with a friend and popular vocalist, Segun Adewale. Together, they formed a larger band called, The Superstars International. Shina Peter then was more into instrumentals while Segun was the vocalist. However, SSP revealed that he had his input in all the music composed by the duo. ‘We both sang then. Though I am into instrumentals, we both wrote the songs and composed them together,” he said.
Talking on how he started music, SSP explained that as a child he had been a lover of the guitar. Though his parents were not really in support, he put his destiny into his own hands by taking on music as a profession. I attended Ebenezer African Church School, Ijoko-Ota, Ogun State. For my secondary education, I attended Baptist Boys High School, Olivet Baptist High School, Oyo and St. Peter School, Abeokuta. I had a friend called Sakiru Alashe and up till today, we are still together. His father was the owner of the house that my parents were living in then, and that was where we were brought up. Normally, I stayed at Iju Quarters but I always came to Oshodi on holidays. Sakiru and I were like twin brothers because if my father gave me pocket money for the day, he would also give the same amount to Sakiru, and Sakiru’s mother also did the same. Whenever she was going to buy clothes for Sakiru, she would make sure she bought mine also. Then we had what we called Olushina and his 12 Fantastic Brothers Band. Though, we never used the normal electronic musical equipment, what we did then was to use sticks to make guitar.“Instead of going to school and writing my examinations, I got myself busy with music. They bought mattress, pillows and others for me to go school, but I refused. So, I woke up at 2 a.m one day and I told them I was not going to school; that all I wanted to do was play music. But because of my decision not to go to school, my parents woke up everybody in the house that night including the landlord. They told people ‘Please come and help us beg our son to go to school’. With four of my other friends in that house, 6, MacCarthy Lane. If you go there now, you won’t find the house there again because of the curse I placed on the house. How could a parent wake everybody in the house because his son had decided he wasn’t going to school in order to have time for music? The landlord then said, ‘If you are not going to school, that means you have been cursed from outside and we wouldn’t want you to influence the other children’.
They also poured Schnapps gin as libation, saying they didn’t want that type of thing in the house . They went and called Sakiru; my friend, and told him what I was planning to do. He asked me why I wanted to do that. He said he would become a doctor and he would employ me.“When I left home, I went to Temiogbe Motel, Oshodi. I can remember, a prostitute then called me and I was living with her. She would lay her wrapper on the floor for me to sleep on. For weeks, I was with her. So, it happened that the woman kept her money under the pillow but she forgot it was under the pillow and she now said I took the money. Fortunately for me, one Sergeant Ajagbe who was my father’s friend saw me and told me they had been looking for me at home. In a nutshell, that was how I started going to Mayflower Hotel. After that, I had an accident.”
His life however got a turn-around when he met a the Miliki exponent, Ebenezer Obey. At first, he was a ‘house boy’ to the music legend. “It was before I started going to the hotel that I met Ebenezer Obey. I had gone to him and told him I wanted to play music but he said I should go and bring my parents, so they could stand as suretees. I was always going to his place to take charge of his clothes and shoes. When he was not at home, I always discreetly played his guitar.”
SSP also met a popular musician in the 60s, Prince Adekunle. “He decided that I should be called Prince Adekunle’s son as a publicity stunt. That was how I became Shina Omo Adekunle. It was just a gimmick. So, people started calling me his son and it worked.”
On how Afrojuju started, SSP said: “After my first solo attempt I was not given attention. Then Fuji music started gaining ground. I was almost considering singing Fuji. I just sat down to think about what was in Fuji music that was almost relegating Juju music to the background. I discovered it was the percussion. I listened to disco music, I saw it was the fast tempo. I then mixed them together, and that was how Afro-Juju was born. I wanted to satisfy everybody. So, I mixed the combination of Afrobeat with disco and added some percussion. And thank God, the late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti advised me never to sing in English but in pidgin English-and that is what I’m enjoying till today. I go outside the South West to play, before I even say “make una dance o”, they would have echoed it. So, it was all God’s plan.
Our recording company bought us cars, then money was still good. I had an accident with mine. I now went to meet Oba Dapo Tejuosho, up till today, he is the only Godfather I have had, since my childhood. In fact, if he does not include me in his Will, it will only be by a hair’s breadth (laughs). I told him I had an accident and he gave me money to get another car. I went to BEWAC to get a Range Rover. I was driving one day on the Costain Bridge (Lagos) and the road looked as if it was 50 different routes. I didn’t know where to take, and I had a terrible accident with the vehicle I had just gone to buy, I had not even obtained a number for it. That was the end of it. He then bought me another Lancer. That is why my songs are spiritual. The accident just came like that. And to cap it, my entire house got burnt. Everything got burnt, it was just the clothes on my body that I had left.“I thank people like Oba Dapo Tejuosho, Dr. Olusola Saraki and the late Chief M.K.O Abiola and co. They assisted me, so I’ve always been extremely lucky.
The family man
Though Sir Shina Peters refused to talk about his marital life and family, he admits that he had had many women in his life, as women are those who make a musician succesful .
“I’m not trying to compare myself with Jesus Christ our Saviour. In showbiz, there is no way you are going to be successful without the backing of women. I felt that to make people see me as a sex symbol, I should get married and show that I’m loyal to my wife but at the end of the day, I found out that it was that particular aspect that people used against me. That because I was married to someone does not mean I should not talk to any other person. All other artistes go scot-free on this, but when it is Shina Peters, it becomes a problem.
SSP says that his happiest moment was when he gave birth to his first son, Clinton. “It took us almost 20 years to have a kid. Because of the many stories that flew around then, people even said I was impotent. The trauma nearly killed me. For me, seeing my wife pregnant, taking her out of the country and being there when Clinton was being delivered, I would say this has been the happiest moment in my life.
When Shina Peters was in his prime musically, there were insinuations that he was been disrespectful to other Juju musicians especially to icons like King Sunny Ade and Ebenezer Obey, which he flatly denied. “I have already talked about Evangelist (Dr) Ebenezer Obey. What can you, a house boy, say where your boss is Obey? He is my boss. It’s just unfortunate that Dr. Obey left the stage for me and King Sunny Ade. I don’t see any comparison between King Sunny Ade and me. He is a living legend. All the respect in the world I give to him. So, anytime, any day, they will forever be living legends and my idols’.
Advice for the upcoming musician
“Please, don’t go into music because you want to be rich or because you want fame. Music is something that you should have a flair for. Many of these boys today go into the studio expecting to come out rich. It does not work that way. The passion has to be there first.