Fela Kuti’s unique Album covers


Have you ever wondered who was behind Fela’s wonderful album covers? Well his name is Lemi Gheriokwu and he was responsible for 27 of Fela’s album covers between 1974 and 1993. Here are some of our favourite Fela album covers.

1.) No agreement

This was for the album No agreement. Remember it?

2.) Ikoyi Blindness
This album cover reminds us of what Onye Nkuzi says on Twitter about people in Lagos not being aware of Nigeria’s real problems. You can follow Onye Nkuzi on Twitter @cchukudebelu.

3.) JJD (Johnny Just Drop)
Johnny Just Drop aka Johnny Just Come refers to someone who is fresh in town. Usually used to described people who have just “arrived”. If this song was released today it would be called IJGB (I Just Got Back).

4.) BONN (Beast of No Nation)
B.O.N.N was released in 1989 and was much anticipated. The art work shows Thatcher, Reagan and Botha. As well as President Buhari and his second in command, the late General Idiagbon.

5.) Original Suffer Head
This one is self explanatory right? Sometimes it feels as though we are the real “original suffer heads” of this world. “Water, Lightie, Foodu, Housee” seems to be the daily complaint of the average Nigerian.

6.) Upside Down
One of the few people to feature on a Fela song. Her name? Sandra Isadore. One of Fela’s early works, you hear the music evolving here.

Fela during a rehearsal before the “rehearsal”.

fela sax
This is a brilliant picture of the man at work, probably a rehearsal before the “rehearsal” in his living room. We assume this to be his living room as Fela only allowed a select few into his room (26 of them or more or more).

A bit about the man
Let’s take a break from the covers and talk about the man. Fela was an unusual human being. Born for a purpose it seems. Genres evolve over time and involve numerous musicians adding their own ingredients into the broth that becomes the genre. Afrobeat was Fela’s recipe, though inspired by Jazz, Funk and probably Juju music (You don’t believe? Then add “2nd base to King Sunny Ade’s “Ja funmi” and you will get the Juju music influence) it was his to own, this was both a blessing and a somewhat curse for the genre.. Unfortunately few have been able to follow in his footsteps and replicate some of his success other than his sons Femi Kuti and Seun Kuti. Ok back to the album covers.

7.) Alagbon Close
Fela isn’t yet the complete package in this song. This song is about the CID office at Alagbon close in Ikoyi and Nigerian police brutality.

And here is a short interview with the man himself, Lemi Gheriokwu





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