At a ripe age of 81, Olayiwola Olagunju, popularly known as Fatai Rolling Dollar has every cause to celebrate since his career took a turn for better when the late Steve Rhodes rediscovered him and rescued his career from total extinction.
With several awards in his kitty and many foreign trips to his credit the octagenarian is currently on tour of London and America. Rolling Dollar tells http://www.nigeriafilms.com that life begins at 80.
You turned 81 recently, how did you feel?
It was with mixed feelings. I was happy and at the same time sad. I was happy because God spared my life. I was sad because I never knew that I could attain that age despite my life travails. But God answered my prayers and now I can smile.
I didn’t celebrate it here in Nigeria but would be celebrating in London. Already some people abroad have booked me for entertainment in London and America. I also want some Nigerian artistes such as King Sunny Ade, Pasuma Wonder and others to rally round me. There is a plan to visit British Broadcasting Corporation and some other radio stations. I will forever be grateful to my fans that organised the shows for me. I missed a show on Octoberb16 because of Felabration.
Acknowledging God in your life do you believe in luck?
I believe in luck and the power of God. His grace has helped me over the years and it will still keep me for decades to come. For me, my life begins at 76 when my misfortune was turned to fortune. The late Uncle Steve Rhodes re-discovered me and brought me out from the shackles of poverty. I didn’t know that God could still remember me until Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu gave me a two-bedroom apartment and my life never remained the same. I have been to London, Belgium, Holland, Morocco etc. If God doesn’t take me away from this world, I will still be around for the next decade.
You said life begins at 76 when do you intend to retire?
Yes life begins at 76 and at 81 I am still rolling on. It is only God that will retire me. I don’t have any other job than music. I am still very healthy and all over the world I’m still the only living legend playing on stage. I don’t have money but I thank God I’m in good health.
You have been doing a lot of advertisement endorsement lately…
This isn’t the first time I would be doing that. As far back as 1957/58, I was doing jingles for Sungas, Alabukun, Yamaha, and Maltex. I did a lot before the tonic advert I am doing lately. And if you are talking about riches I am a very poor man. I have name but I don’t have money. I was living in one room apartment at Mushin Olorunsogo with 10 children before Asiwaju Tinubu; former Governor of Lagos State gave me this flat at New Millennium Estate in Agege. I went to play at Radio Lagos and Eko FM. I just told him what was paining me and he gave me the apartment. Governor Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State bought me a generating set. I don’t have a car and still move around with my footwagen. I have a project now that I am working on in Ikorodu that is likely to cost me millions Naira. I am trying to build a house and a recording studio.
What happened to all the money from your overseas trips?
The project will cost me about 6.5 million naira. That is where I have been investing my money. I have a studio that I am doing where you can record advert jingles and music etc. I am not doing it for now but for the future generation. I know some people would say that this baba has money but he doesn’t want to but a car. I don’t have money and there is nobody to help, nobody to sponsor but I believe God will do the best for me.
Fatai Rolling Dollars always wears jewelry, is that a part of you as a showman?
It doesn’t have anything to do with my profession as a musician or being a Lagosian. I have been accustomed to it since when I was young. In my time, you have to be very neat before your girlfriend can have a second look at you. You must be very neat. I didn’t marry with money but with fashion. If you look at my dressing you would notice I am always in jeans because I worked with the Americans. Jeans is for business but in a different way.
At your age you are still procreating…
It is a blessing from God which nobody can challenge. Some of my contemporaries are blind, some are no longer working but here I am hale and healthy. I thank Almighty Allah that created me and directed my path to the right channel. It is very rare to see my age mate still rearing kids. They make me happy when I see them most especially the smallest. It shows that God hasn’t stopped me from producing good babies. If you want to be a man with happiness and joy, you should keep to orthodox medicine.
We didn’t use white medicine in my time. It has worked for me and it is still working. Another thing is that when you look at musicians, you cannot separate them from women because no music, no women. When you are playing music and it is only men that are dancing, you won’t enjoy it. Once a woman takes to the center stage the whole thing becomes classical. When you have money in your pocket, you can’t spend it without women.
Any plan to marry more women?
If God permits me to do so.
Even with your beautiful wife?
It doesn’t matter. I am a musician and also a Muslim. And my religion permits me to marry more if you can love them equally and take care of them. If God permits me to marry more I will marry. I am still alive, agile and kicking.
You have been through tick and thin, do you ever think you will make it in life again?
I never knew I would rise again or even go to a white man’s country in my life. I was already an old man when I entered plane in 2004 at 76. Since then I have travelled widely. I was in Rabat in Morocco. From there, I went to Casablanca and Spain. I returned to Nigeria and later embarked on another journey. I travelled to London, Paris, Holland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and America playing music. It is amazing the God’s hand in my life. I didn’t know I could still do that in my life because I have lost hope totally.
By the time I rose again from the shackles of poverty, the first album I did in 2001 was titled Papa Rise Again. After that, I did Won Kere si Number. There was a track I did in Morocco called Ori Wa Dara. Whatever that happens to me I can see the blessings of God. And out of the musicians we have around the world, I dodn’t know of any who attained my age and still active. So, I am the oldest living legend. So God has been good to me.
As you embark on another international tour what are your fans expectation?
They will enjoy me more. My new album will soon be released by the special grace of God.
Considering your travails, what lesson has this life taught you?
If I begin to talk about life we can be here for the next five weeks because have seen quite a lot. It was a trial of life. But I have patience and hope and above all, I have God. During that time, I was hopeful that one day God would intervene in my situation. It taught me a lot of lessons that if you are going through trials, be patient and be cool. When you put a hot water down from fire, no matter its hotness, after sometime it will be cool. And if you can persevere as a human being you would realize that tough time doesn’t last.