How He Became Popular In The 70s
Tatalo Alamu, a highly motivated and stylish talking drummer on set at a ceremony on his instinct perhaps, would display what made his contemporaries admire him as a weird drummer. They usually waxed yellow with envy, whenever they were talking about him, Alamu would momentarily stand as Aguda and Sekere groovy at a party take guests, onlookers attendees and to a dizzling height, he would, in an impressive stunt, throw up his talking drum into the air and simultaneously hold it as the drum fall into his palms.
Immediately, he would start dishing out panegyrics, recalling the heroic deeds and exploits of the family of the man he was praising. Unfailingly, the man would wax emotional stand up, walking with measued steps to the bandstand to appreciate Alamu, spraying currency notes on his head.
Held in awe, the crowd watching, would acknowledge the impressive deliverance of super Aguda of Alamu with thunderous ovation. That was the Ibadan traditional drummer, who ruled the traditional social scene with his Aguda and Sekere band.
Tatala Alamu was an Ibadan popular talking drummer. Alamu who was from an entertainer family of Opopoyeosa Ajalaruru Compound of the largest city in the West African sub-region, grew in a family compand of entertainers. From youth, his parents, despite that his father was a talking drummer too, noted that Alamu had what could be called a queer way of beating drum. Almost all his physique (body) was usually brought to the fore, while doing what he liked best.
In his growing up years, Alamu had a wonderful style of speaking with his drum. He was always elated, gesturing, gesticulating and squinting, frowing and sometimes allowing a broad smile to play on his face as he used the talking drum to sing praise a patron, chief and those who were generous with their deep pockets.
In Ibadan, most talking drummers ply their trade in groups. They usually have, among them, maracas (Sekere) beaters. The maracas beaters who play along side the talking drummers display big gourds that have treads and beads loosely woven around their music instruments. When shaking, the beads against the gourds they release danceable sounds and rythm in response to how the gourds are shaken.
It was the weird style of Alamu talking drumming that attracted the attention and, in fairness to him, admiration of those who were older than him in the group that could rightly be called a band in a loose term. In the past, drummers before the emergence of Tatalo Alamu, Agboluaje and their contemporaries on the social scene, most talking drummers were solo players, who went from house to house of the well-to-do in the city to solicit appreciation in money for coming to sing-praise. They were like mistrels praying and singing praises of patrons for money.
This pattern of talking drumming entertainment was to give way when Tatalo Alamu and a few others brought to life better organised bands to ply their trade. From early 70’s, in emulation of high-life, Juju musicians who had their separate bands, talking drummers too adopted the then new style that had become the vogue. Tatalo Alamu was among the first sets of talking drummers to set up their bands.
Social space bubbled as talking drummers bands thrilled and entertain people at naming ceremony, wedding, house warming or house opening, do you say house commissioning and even burial. Tatalo Alamu, bringing his unique gesture and display into action quickly soared in popularity. Thus, he was in forefront and ahead of others. He was a spectacle to watch and listen to at ceremonies. Celebrities, socialites not to talk of patrons appreciated him as wads of naira notes were usually pasted on his head or literally showered on him.
He became the most patronised talking drummer band in the city. Every celebrity or socialite of the time wanted Tatalo Alamu to play and entertain at their ceremonies. Alamu, thereby became the toast, on the social space.
Alamu did not lose sight of exploiting his popularity to the hilt for economic gain. He started waxing records that sing praised social buffs who could afford to pay for the eulogy.
In what could be tagged the history of taling drumming in Ibadan, the emergence of Tatalo Alamu and his band could rightly be called a revolution or a turning point. The man did not only change the style and pattern of talking drumming in the ancient city, he also brought panache that lifted this style of entertainment among other genres.
Tatalo Alamu, it must be said, was the younger brother of Abasi Obesere; Rapala Fuji star’s father.
This means Obesere is a nephew to Tatalo Alamu, the late great talking drummer.
In the olden days, talking drums and Sekere were musical instruments played for kings, chiefs and warriors.
Mostly, they were played to herald victory at wars.
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