Early life and career
Olaiya was born on 31 December 1930, in Calabar, Cross River State, the 20th child of a family of 24. His parents, Alfred Omolona Olaiya and Bathsheba Owolabi Motajo, came from Ijesha-Ishu in Ekiti State. Olaiya came from a very rich family. His father’s house called Ilọijọs Bar stood on 2 Bamgbose Street, Lagos Island, until it was demolished on September 11, 2016. At an early age he learned to play the Bombardon and the French Horn. After leaving school he moved to Lagos, where he passed the school certificate examination in 1951 and was accepted by Howard University, US, to study civil engineering. Olaiya instead pursued a career as a musician, to the disapproval of his parents. He played with the Sammy Akpabot Band, was leader and trumpeter for the Old Lagos City Orchestra and joined the Bobby Benson Jam Session Orchestra.
In 1954 Olaiya formed his own band, the Cool Cats, playing popular highlife music. His band was chosen to play at the state ball when Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom visited Nigeria in 1956, and later to play at the state balls when Nigeria became independent in 1960 and when Nigeria became a republic in 1963. On the latter occasion, Olaiya shared the stage with the American jazz musician Louis Armstrong. During the Nigerian Civil War of 1967–70, Olaiya was given the rank of a lieutenant colonel (honorary) in the Nigerian army and his band played for the troops at various locations. The Cool Cats later travelled to the Congo to perform for United Nations troops.
Olaiya married many wives. He has children and grandchildren. One of his daughters, Moji Olaiya, was an actress who died in Canada on the 17th of May 2017 just two months after giving birth to her second child. He sings with his son Bayode Olaiya.
Olaiya’s music bridges between Ghanaian highlife and what would become Afrobeat.
His musical style was influenced by James Brown, with horn parts harmonised in Brown’s style, as opposed to the mostly unison lines of Afrobeat. The music includes the swinging percussion of Tony Allen, but not the syncopated style that Allen later pioneered.
In July 2013, Victor Olaiya released a music video remix of Baby Jowo(Baby Mi Da)with 2face idibia and was received with much acclaim.
A partial list of albums:
|Late 1950s/Early 1960s||Victor Olaiya & his Cool Cats||Odale Ore b/w Mofe Muyon||10″ 78||Badejo’s Sound Studios BBA 150|
|1960s?||Various Artists||Catchy Rhythms from Nigeria – Vol. 2||10″ LP||Philips West Africa [Lagos] P 13401|
|1961||Dr. Victor Olaiya & his All Stars||Olaiya’s Victories||10″ LP||Philips [Netherlands] 13403|
|Early 1960s||Various Artists||Catchy Rhythms From Nigeria – Vol. 3||(10″ LP||Philips West Africa [Lagos] 13404|
|1960s||Victor Olaiya & his Cool Cats||Afro-Rhythm Parade Vol. 2||7″ EP||Philips [Netherlands] 420001|
|1960s?||Victor Olaiya & his All Stars||Oruku Tiniditindi / Iye Jemila||7″ 45||Philips [Lagos] 303 015|
|1960s||Victor Olaiya & his All Stars||Pambotoriboto b/w Moonlight Highlife||7″ 45||Philips [Lagos] 382357|
|1960s||Victor Olaiya & his All Stars||Feso J’aiye / Asian Udo||7″ 45||Philips [Lagos] 382 397|
|1960s||Victor Olaiya & his All Stars||Kosowo Lode b/w Ewelewekuewele||7″ 45||Philips [Lagos] 382739|
|1960s||Victor Olaiya & his All Stars||Afro-Rhythm Parade Vol. 7||7″ EP||Philips [Lagos] 420014|
|Late 1960s?||Various Artists||West Africa’s Big Sound||7″ EP||Philips [Lagos] 420023 PE|
|1982||Dr. Victor Olaiya||In the Sixties||LP||Polydor [Lagos] POLP 066|
|1982||Dr. Victor Olaiya||Highlife Reincaration||LP||Polydor [Lagos] POLP 073|
|1983||Dr. Victor Olaiya||Ilu Le O (Country Hard 0!)||LP||Polydor [Lagos] POLP 096|
|1983||Various Artists||African Music||LP||Vertigo [Netherlands] 814 480-1|
|1983||E.T. Mensah & Dr. Victor Olaiya||Highlife Giants of Africa Vol. 1||LP||Polydor [Lagos] POLP 102|
|1986||Dr. Victor Olaiya||Papingo Davalaya||LP||Polydor [Lagos] POLP 156|
|2001?||Dr. Victor Olaiya||The Best of Dr. Victor Olaiya – 3 Decades of Highlife||CD||Premier Music [Lagos] KMCD003|
|2003?||Dr. Victor Abimbola Olaiya||Highlife in The 80’s –
The Best of Dr. Victor Olaiya
Vol. 2 – Evil Genius of Highlife
|CD||Premier Music [Lagos] KMCD007|
|2002?||Various Artists||High Life Kings Vol. 1||CD||Premier Music [Lagos] KMCD 01|
|2002?||Various Artists||High Life Kings Vol. 2||CD||Premier Music [Lagos] KMCD 02|
|2003||Various Artists||The Rough Guide to Highlife||CD||World Music Network [UK]|
|2003?||Various Artists||The Kings of Highlife||CD||Wrasse Records [UK] WRASS 097|
|2005||Victor Olaiya & his International All Stars
/ St. Augustine
|Let Yourself Go/There Was a Time / Papa de Love||7″45||Soundway Records [UK] SNDW 7002|
|2009||Victor Olaiya’s All Stars Soul International||Victor Olaiya’s All Stars Soul International||CD||Vampisoul [Spain] VAMPI 107)|
|2012||Various Artists||The Rough Guide To Psychedelic Africa||CD||World Music Network [UK] RGNET 1270|
- H. Olufela Davies (1964). The Victor Olaiya Story. Sankey Print Works.
- “Victor Olaiya’s All Stars Soul International”. Paris DJs. Retrieved 3 November 2009.
- “Highlife Godfather Victor Olaiya celebrates 80 years in grand style as Nigeria showbiz all greats re-emerge in solidarity”. EMNNEWS ONLINE. 19 January 2011.
- Richard Eghaghe. “Victor Olaiya: 50 years of ingenious highlife on stage”. Daily Independent. Retrieved 3 November 2009.
- “Update on the Demolition of Olaiya House”. 2016-09-18. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
- “Demolishing History”. 2016-09-25. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
- “Victor Olaiya: Fela Learnt The Trumpet in My Band”. This Day. 24 April 2004. Retrieved 3 November 2009.
- “My father does not like acting — Moji, Victor Olaiya’s daughter”. The Punch. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
- David Ryshpan. “Victor Olaiya, All Star Soul International”. Exclaim!. Retrieved 3 November 2009.
- John Collins (1985). Musicmakers of West Africa. Lynne Rienner Publishers. p. 113. ISBN 0-89410-075-0.
- “Dr. Victor Olaiya – Baby Mi Da (Baby Jowo) remix ft 2Face Idibia (Official Video)”. YouTube.
- “Discography of Victor Olaiya”. John Beadle. Retrieved 3 November 2009.
- “Dr. Victor Olaiya – Ai Ga Na / Omolanke (audio)”. YouTube. Retrieved 3 November 2009.
- “Dr. Victor Olaiya – Omo Pupa / Owo Ko Ni’fe (Audio)”. YouTube. Retrieved 3 November 2009.