During the week, Google celebrated Nigerian highlife musician Oliver De Coque on his 74th posthumous birthday with a Doodle illustrated by Lagos-based artist Ohab TBJ.
Crowned the “Highlife King of Africa,” Oliver De Coque is widely revered as one of the continent’s most prolific recording artists fame for the infusion of the modern West African highlife genre with a Congolese-influenced guitar style and the energetic dance elements of Igbo music he grew up with.
He crafted a unique musical style, which he called Ogene.
Since his first solo release in 1976, De Coque’s music has grown in popularity at home and abroad, as he put out album after album featuring his masterful guitar work and fresh take on African pop–over 70 throughout his lifetime.
Born Oliver Sunday Akanite on 12 April 1947 in the small town of Ezinifite in south eastern Nigeria, De Coque first took up the guitar at the age of 11. He was taught to play the guitar by Piccolo, a Congolese guitarist living in Nigeria. As a teenager, studied the traditional Igbo music of the region and Congolese soukous.
In 1970, at a performance by the popular Sunny Agaga and his Lucky Star Band, De Coque convinced Sunny to let him stand in as their guitarist; he was hired on the spot, providing a massive boost to his young career. Also a skilled player of the Nigerian board game okwe, he became known as “Oliver de ka Okwe,” which he later adapted into his stage name, Oliver de Coque.
In 1994, in recognition of his prodigious music achievement, De Coque was awarded an honorary doctorate in music by the University of New Orleans.
Oliver De Coque died in June 2008 aged 68.