Rikki Stein, Music Manager
Well, for someone like me that usually moves abroad four or five times a year, mainly to Africa, the lockdown has been an interesting challenge. As an 'ancient one', (I'll be 78 in July which, I'm told, classifies me as 'vulnerable') apart from the occasional stroll I've hardly moved my butt out of the front door for the past ten weeks or so.
Here with my wife and kids (grown-up), we've taken this seriously. My kids, mainly, are super aware of the implications of venturing forth and bringing COVID home to infect their old man.
Let's be clear here. I may be in my 78th year but still have all (or anyway, most) of my marbles. I still smoke my daily spliff, shift my nether parts when listening to my main man, Fela and find myself still up and about at 3.00 am when I do my best work- reply encouragingly to the never-ending stream of music that aspiring artists send me, even when it's iffy. I say things like "I hope you won't mind if I offer you some advice. Perhaps spend less time trying to figure out what you think people want to hear and more time showing us what you have in your belly!" I then go on to say, "keep sending me music!"
My short-term memory is terrible, though. Forever looking for my glasses, which may well, be on top of my head! But I've led an extraordinary life so far and happily recall a fair chunk of it which is just as well as one of the things I've been doing while locked down in writing my memoirs. I'm on chapter four and still in 1968!
Fela is still keeping me busy as well. I was his friend and manager for 15 years and continue to defend and promote his legacy. I'm currently working on Fela vinyl box set No 5. We invite respected artists known to be Fela fans, to select seven albums and explain why. The first was Questlove, the second Ginger Baker, the third Brian Eno, the fourth Erykah Badu and now the fifth that was co-curated by Chris Martin and Femi Kuti. All in a solid box with a booklet containing photos, lyrics, commentaries, and a poster-sized commissioned painting. Coming soon!
All in all, despite feeling pain at the constant and tragic stories with which we're bombarded daily, the admiration for all front-line workers, the comprehension of how many millions of lives are compromised and threatened by an economy in tatters, I nevertheless can't feel guilty about looking at my present circumstance and finding that, despite everything, I'm quite enjoying it. I don't have any choice so might as well!
I was particularly inspired by the UN's Secretary-General, Antonio Gutierrez, saying that if ever there was a time for the world to come together, then surely this is it! What are we waiting for? An invasion from outer space before we come together!
Stay safe, y'all!
Rikki Stein, a veteran British music manager, is the CEO of Kalakuta Sunrise Ltd (Knitting Factory Records Europe) and Head of A&R for Okaymusic. Friend and Manager of Fela Kuti for 15 years, Stein continues to defend and promote his legacy, in close association with The Fela Anikulapo Kuti Estate.
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