CMU Approved

Approved: William Onyeabor

By | Published on Wednesday 7 January 2015

William Onyeabor

The internet has got itself in a right old state over the finding of a newly-uploaded song/YouTube video by ‘lost’ Nigerian popstar and “elusive mystery man of music” William Onyeabor, who hasn’t released anything in years; nay, decades. The Bible-inspired song, titled ‘Many Mansions’, first surfaced on YouTube in Sept 2014, but has apparently escaped wider notice until now.

As is investigated in Noisey’s excellent short film of 2014, ‘Fantastic Man’, Onyeabor became a big synth-pop-making deal in his native Nigeria in the 1970s and 1980s. Having disappeared off – becoming a born-again Christian and wealthy industrialist – following the release of his last LP in 1985, he has only rarely been seen or heard from since.

Onyeabor’s work re-entered the spotlight in 2013, ‘Searching For Sugar Man’-style, when David Byrne’s world label Luaka Bop re-released a pair of his records. Then, in a very recent and extremely rare radio chat with BBC 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne, Onyeabor said that he had new material in the pipeline, which really was a thrill.

So, take from all that what you will. While everyone got very excited by the ‘Many Mansions’ clip, which certainly features a modern-looking Onyeabor, the celebrations were cut short when the video was hit with a takedown notice from The Orchard. Which at least seems to verify its legitimacy.

As you can’t watch that video, here instead is ‘Atomic Bomb’ from Luaka Pop compilation ‘Who Is William Onyeabor?’: