Fela's long connection with Los Angeles

fela-and-tom-1986.jpgLA Observed correspondents observed the house a-stompin and a-rockin at Wednesday night's opening night of Fela! at the Ahmanson Theatre. Here's Charles McNulty's Culture Monster review, and an LA Stage Times feature on Sahr Ngaujah, the actor who portrays Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Fela himself was on stage in 1986 when KCRW held its first live music show ever, at the Olympic Auditorium. Tom Schnabel, the station's former music director, explains:

I saw Fela many times. He would let the big band cruise along for a while, saxes blaring, then come out and have an assistant light his joint. He would sing, deliver lectures on colonial mentality, zombies and mental slavery, then break to take the occasional hit off the spliff. One time, performing with his 27 wives all on stage (at the Greek I think, but it could have been the Wadsworth Theatre), his wives were on their knees in short skirts with their bottoms facing the audience, and I noticed–from the second row–that some of them weren’t wearing underwear. Now I’m no peeping Tom, but you don’t forget such moments.

When I interviewed him in 1986 on Morning Becomes Eclectic, he complained that his wives weren’t giving him enough freedom (he married all of them at the same time). I turned the tables on him and asked him if he would give his wives the same freedom he was demanding of them. He uttered “whoaaa”, shook his head. He didn’t like that. He wasn’t wearing his underwear like he often did in interviews at his compound. He did sport the body suit that he wore on stage….he was a small, muscular man, no body fat, all muscle and sinew; he reminded me of Miles Davis, who had a similar body type but had a different sense of sartorial expression.

That's Schnabel with Fela in the 1986 photo above.

Fixed day in first sentence

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