Sonny Okosun

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Sonny Okosun (January 1, 1947 in Enugu, Nigeria[1] – May 24, 2008 in Washington DC) was a musician from Nigeria, from the old Bendel State, now Edo State in southern Nigeria. He was from the Esan ethnic group. He named his band Ozziddi after a renowned Ijaw river god. His surname is sometimes spelled Okosuns and his first name Sunny. He was one of the leading Nigerian musicians from the late 1970s to mid 1980s.[2]

His first band, The Postmen, was formed in Enugu in 1965.[1] In 1969 he joined Melody Maestros, a band led by Victor Uwaifo.[3] From 1972 to 1974 he led a group known as Paperback Limited and then formed a new band, Ozziddi.[3][4] From then on, he released several albums either with Ozziddi or solo.[4]

His 1977 song "Fire in Soweto" became a major international hit.[4] He was featured on the anti-apartheid album Sun City, and his song "Highlife" was on the soundtrack of the 1986 film Something Wild.[2] His mainstream success started to fade in the late 1980s, but he continued his career as a gospel musician under the name Evangelist Sonny Okosun.[4]

He died aged 61 of colon cancer on 24 May 2008 at Howard University Hospital, Washington DC.[5] His musical styles included reggae, highlife, Afro-funk, and gospel, among others.[4] He made music in a number of languages, including Esan, Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, and English.[6]


  1. ^ a b Oti, Sonny (2009). Highlife Music in West Africa. African Books Collective. p. 28. ISBN 978-8422-08-X. 
  2. ^ a b The Independent, 24 June 2008: Sonny Okosun obituary
  3. ^ a b MSN Music
  4. ^ a b c d e Discography of Sonny Okosun
  5. ^ World Music Central, 28 May 2008
  6. ^ Leadership, 26 May 2008: Music Icon, Sonny Okosun, Dies At 61