I was born on August 26, 1928, at Adetunji compound, Popoyemoja, Ibadan, to the family of Olayiwola and AlhajaSuwebatAdetunji. My father was a tailor. I am the first born of my parents’ 17 children. My father had five wives with my mother as his first wife. The story of my parents was interesting. Four years separated their ages and they both died within four years. My father died in 1989 while my mother died in 1993.
I have no educational certificate and I never attended any school, but I attended lesson classes. My job experience with some white men gave me the opportunity to learn their language by relationship.
I trained as a tailor under Mr DisuAladeIgbalajobi from Ijaye. I sew both English and Yoruba dresses. My tailoring business boomed because I displayed expertise in the profession. I had four sewing machines and employed four journeymen who worked on shifts. I have been living in Lagos since 1949, the same year I met Prince Femi KehindeOsinowo, who is still around till today.
FROM TAILORING TO ENTERTAINMENT IMPRESARIO
This is a phase in my life that I will never forget. One day, I went with the late BadejoOkusanya on a business trip to Agarawu, Lagos. He used to trade in lock keys and padlocks. After the business of the day, he told me to look for a .porter that would assist us in carrying the goods. I said porter ke? (Why porter). I told him the load was not heavier than what I could carry. So I carried it on my head to his shop at number five, Orogiri Street, Lagos. When we got there, he called one of his staff who was younger to me and asked him, ‘Who is older between you and Saliu? He answered, “Saliu is older.” He again asked him, “The other time we went to Lagos to purchase some items who carried it to the office,” and the worker answered that it was “a porter.”
Then, he told him that “Saliu would be successful in life because of his humility: The rest is history now. Thereafter. he gave me some record discs to be playing for my customers so that they would not be in hurry to leave my workshop. While entertaining my customers with the discs, some of them expressed interest in getting copies and I obliged them in exchange for money, since I was not prepared to give them free because Badejo gave them to me for a purpose. So, within few days, I had sold all the record discs and took the money to Badejo in order to convince him that I actually sold them. When I got to him with the proceeds, he made a startling revelation, saying “Thank God. This same business that I started with your father in 1940, but which he said he could not continue because he was ‘not comfortable with living in Lagos is what you’re venturing into now.” He then counted the money and ordered his apprentice to give
me four and a half shillings as royalty on each record I sold. I used to sell one record for two pounds, 10 and 15 shillings. That was how I came into record disc sales and the business boomed. Thereafter I built a rack to hang the records in my tailoring workshop. But when I was having conflicting interests in both trades, I left tailoring and embraced record disc sale.
JOURNEY INTO THE WORLD OF RECORDS PROMOTION
The first Nigerian to have a record label, the late BadejoOkusanya, who owns Badejo Sound Studio, baptised me into the world of music business. He was my boss because he was responsible for my eventual transformation from tailoring business to the music industry.
I started OmoAje records precisely in 1957 at number 2, Oke Popo, by Oya compound in Lagos. After leaving Oke Popo, I bought a building at Number 14, Ibomo Street. The house was constructed with roofing sheets, with two rooms and a parlour.
Unfortunately, the house was consumed by fire, but God blessed me and I erected a two-storey building on the site, using all the rooms on the ground floor as workshop, while we had four flats upstairs. We lived in one flat and used another one as office, while we rented out the remaining two. From there, God continued to bless me. As at today, I own lots of houses at different locations in Lagos and Ibadan. By the grace of God I have been able to work and ensure that various musicians wax records. The list includes: Lefty Salami Balogun, who was a former drummer; DaudaEpoAkara, TataloAremu, AmudaAgboluaje, King WasiuAyinde Marshal, JimohAyinlaAnikura, OmoKekereAmoo, JaiyegbadeAlao and many others I can’t remember now.
FROM OMO AJE TO 8ABALAJE RECORDS
My father bears 8abalaje, so I christened my own company OmoAje records while he was alive. Whenhe died, I changed to Babalaje being the head ofthe family.
I became Mogaji of Adetunji family in 1976, three years after I was first called to do so. I can recollect that the late BalogunOlubadan, High Chief SulaimanOmiyale, pressured me to become the Mogaji of my family, but I refused because of my business. But he persisted and educated me that being a chief in
Ibadan will have no negative impact on my business. I didn’t yield to his pressure until three years after when I succumbed. Since 1976, I have continued to progress steadily on the Balogun chieftaincy line, climbing the 23 steps according to the tradition of Ibadan chieftaincy, till Allah granted me the grace to become Olubadan today.
Today, I owe my success in life to two people. The first person is BadejoOkusanya, who introduced me to record discs sale and assisted me to become successful in the business. The second person is the late BalogunOlubadan, High Chief SulaimanOmiyale, who persuaded me to become the Mogaji of my family in 1976 during the reign of Olubadan, Oba GbadamosiAdebimpe (1976 – 1977) of Odinjo, Ibadan. If not for his persistence, who knows, I might not have taken that bold step to become the Mogaji of my family. So, these are the two people God used to take me to where I am today. I was decorated as JagunmoluBalogun in 1978 by Olubadan, Oba Daniel TayoAkinbiyi (1977 – 1982) at Elekuro, Ibadan. For 40 years, I was elevated from one step to the other until I finally reached the pinnacle of the Balogun line, which qualified me to become the 41st Olubadan today following the passage of Olubadan, Oba Samuel OdulanaOdugade I (2007 – 2016) on January 19, this year.