LOS ANGELES, May 19 (UPI) -- Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe, whose tune "Osondi Owendi" was the most popular record ever in Nigeria, has died in Waterbury, Conn., of lung failure at 71.
The Nigerian native was known as a titan of the popular African music genre called highlife, and as widely regarded as the "Doctor of Hypertention" because of the soothing effects of his music, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.
"In Nigeria he's loved not only by one ethnic group but by all the ethnic groups," said Nnamdi Moweta, Osadebe's manager and the host of Radio Afrodicia on KPFK-FM, Los Angeles. "When you live in a country like Nigeria ... people go through a lot to survive, and we look for avenues to soothe this daily pain that we go through. His music played a very important role."
Osadebe may not have created highlife music, but he did reinvent it by adding the merengue and rumba, said Moweta.
Also, Osadebe was a countryman through and through.
"A country without music is a dead nation," Osadebe told the Sun. "Nigerian musicians are great people, and musically Nigeria is great. The unfortunate thing is that we are not accorded the recognition due to us."