Nigerian man of mystery, William Onyeabor, passed away at his home in Enugu, Nigeria Monday night. He was 70 years old.
News arrives by way of David Byrne‘s record label, Luaka Bop, who released the 2013 compilation, Who is William Onyeabor?. They relay Onyeabor had passed in his sleep peacefully, following a brief bout with illness. Onyeabor will be remembered for his electronics-heavy take on funk and pop, lacing beds of glimmering synthesizers with inescapable melodies across nine studio albums all recorded and released in Enugu between 1977 and 1985 through his Wilfilms Limited record plant.
Following his final release, Anything You Sow, Onyeabor removed himself from the public eye and became notorious for dodging interviews, only fueling the enigmatic air to his legacy. In a rare 2014 interview with BBC, Onyeabor revealed that he’d studied film in Russia, production in Sweden and law in the UK, adding several new depths to an already uncommon backstory. He leaves behind a wife, children and four grandchildren. May he rest easy and may his family receive the peace and support they need in this tragic time.
Head over to OkayAfrica for more on Onyeabor’s everlasting influence in music and well beyond.