SAMMY NEEDLE IS DEAD!
THE Nigerian music industry has lost its third member in one week.
Even while Sonny Okosuns body is still lying in the mortuary, with practitioners weeping and wailing, another calamity has befallen the community of music-makers
Sammie Needle, a singer, producer and label owner died early this morning at an undisclosed hospital in Lagos.
Needle, who has been running his label SNRC (Sammy Nedle Rhythm and culture) for over a decade, had been ill since last week, and was taking treatment as an out-patient from a hospital close to his home in Ogba, Lagos. A source close to him told me family members are unsure of the exact diagnosis, but that the singer found it difficult to urinate or excrete.
‘He was rushed to the hospital again this morning’, the source said.
It is uncertain where he died exactly, but my source quoted Bluecross hospital, in Ogba, as one of the clinics the late singer received treatment.
No family member could confirm the sad incident as i write. Sammy’s widow Murna, a broadcaster who once worked with NTA, was, understandably, not picking her calls, while Sammy’s mobile phone hs been switched off. The deceased’s aged parents reside in Edo state; but it is uncertain if they have heard the news of thier son’s death.
Needle’s death, coming at a time when the industry is still mourning the passing of veteran practitioners like Sonny Okosuns and Jossy Olajoyegbe, has thrown the entire industry into confusion, with many expressing deep concern and fear. The whole industry, usually full of pomp, glamour and fanfare, has been enveloped in sorrow and most practitioners have remained inconsolable.
Needle’s former partner Eddy Remedy was shocked to hear about the death. ‘Someone just told me now. It’s a sad thing. I’m performing somewhere now. I’ll head for his house once I leave here’, he told us on phone on Thursday. Eddy lived with Sammy for a while in 2007 after his marriage with KSB packed up. Eddy’s new album was to be released by Needle’s SNRC before they parted ways under controversial circumstances.
Before his death, Needle himself was working on a new album – his first in years. The album project was reportedly being overseen by his label and Atunda records. One of the tracks on the album, as he told me a few months back, was a tribute song to the late Stella Obasanjo, wife of Nigeria’s former head of state who died in 2006. Titled ‘iya wa ti lo’ the song pays tribute to Stella, who died during a tummy-tuck operation. Sammy’s album project was also being supported by Onari Duke, former first lady of Cross rivers state. The late singer was particularly close to the Dukes, and during their tenure as the state’s first family, Sammy and his band performed for them severally – even though he was originally from Edo state.
Born Samuel Odeh, he was a rare vocalist and performer who impressed critics early and established a name for himself when many of his contemporaries were still struggling. He formed his company SNRC in the mid-nineties, got an office in Oshopey Plaza (on Allen Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos) and recruited a first-class team to nurture his career and business. He got his big break when he performed for the Abachas at one of their son’s wedding.
But his career soon nose-dived after his music failed to gain commercial acceptance, and one of his most brilliant associates Soji Dehinde left him. Soji Dehinde himself died few years later.
Sammy stayed underground for many years, battling a fading image, a failing career and facing an uncertain future. But he was no quitter and he told all who cared to listen that he was going to bounce back.
It was only recently that he started putting pieces of his career together, setting up an elaborate studio in his home, and beginning to romance the mainstream again. Few months back, he got another mini spot in the limelight when he got a slot to perform at the burial of the father of ThisDay chairman Nduka Obaigbena. Soon, he was buying a new SUV and romancing the press again.
Married for several years, to Murna Odeh, Sammy batteld hard to save his marriage from crumbling. And it is to the couple’s credit that, in spite of many potholes and pitfalls, their union was standing until he breathed his last. His wife was reportedly by his bedside when he gave up the ghost. Unfortunately, the couple had no child of their own. Murna suffered a miscarriage a few years back, and it is uncertain if she was ever pregnant again after that.