Friday 5 May 2023

In Summary: "TAXI DRIVER"

Uncle Bobby Benson, was a genius in everything he undertook.

He was a gifted and talented all around entertainer. A musician, singer, composer, multi instrumentalist, actor, and a shrewd and accomplished business man.

He built and owned his own Hotel Bobby, on the major Ikorodu Road, Lagos. Between Fadeyi and Onipanu. Directly opposite the entrance to Igbobi Orthopedic Hospital. Inside Hotel Bobby, he had one of the best Night Club, in Africa then, Caban Bamboo Night Club. His band was the resident band of the night club. He brought in many other bands, even from outside Nigeria to play at Caban Bamboo. He introduced a lot of what was called Floor Shows, during sets or breaks of music bands.

He will have magicians, acrobats, jesters, comedians and many entertaining situations come and perform for the audience. The standard practice by Bobby Benson, was to do a raffle of ticket stubs. Winners are called, they could win anything from a live Goat, Ram, Turkey, a free weekend at one of the suites, in the Hotel, even a plate of food, Chicken a la batata, and Shiskebab!

There was also this cosy enclosure, carved out of Caban Bamboo Night Club, seriously air conditioned with a very romantic ambience, called the Bamboo Room. It is a place that puts you in the mood. The main event of the Bamboo Room, apart from the usual cooling down in a corner with your main squeeze, is the unbeatable, weekly Sunday Night, Disco at the Bamboo Room. That is where you to listen and dance to latest hits all over the world. No matter what part of the world the hits or trends come out, whether UK, or USA, it must get to Lagos within 6 to 10 hours, standard.

You have got to remember that in those days, Nigerian Airways, had fleet and fleet of all categories of commercial planes and jets. The planes were manned by Nigerian pilots and cabin crews, who were trendy and psychedelic. The pilots were mainly up and about young dudes and studs. Same goes for the cabin crews, but they were mixed - males and females!!! I digressed.

Let's get back to Bobby Benson. What ever show you decide to attend at Caban Bamboo, or Bamboo Room, usually starts at about 10:00pm. It will go on till about 5, or 6:00am!

As a successful business man, Bobby Benson, owned the largest music instruments shop in Africa then. It was on the other side of Hotel Bobby. The floor space was so big, today it would be called a Mega Music Shop. Only high quality instruments and equipment were sold at the shop. At the time, Bobby Benson, was the recognized, approved and sole distributor of YAMAHA, products in Nigeria.

Bobby Benson was more known for his hit tunes and he had many of them. I could almost say that every song he recorded, became a Chart Buster! His greatest hit is "TAXI DRIVER"

As was in character with Bobby Benson, there are almost always, a true life story or experience, behind most of his compositions. Either his own personal experience, brother's, family members or friend's. If it happens, Uncle Bobby, will compose the appropriate song for the incident, and the song will make it to the top of the Chart!

In the case of "TAXI DRIVER"  it was his own personal experience, he sang into an all generation hit song!

Bobby Benson, was a lady's man. He could not leave them alone, and they too won't let him be. He has the best of the best, and enjoy flocking around him openly too.

He was a very handsome man, with great sense of humor, showmanship, from a good prestigious Benson family of Elekumeden Oriwu Ikorodu town Lagos. Bobby Benson was a debonair and flamboyant person. So to make his pick and choose was quite easy.

Bobby Benson was also a mortal, like the rest of us. So occasionally, he is not above falling head over heels for some drop dead, vixen or pixies!! You never know whether it is going to a short or long term dalliances. But once those stars flutters, Bobby will not allow any thing to be in the way or hindrance.

That was the situation when the scenario for the song "TAXI DRIVER" was set in motion. Things have been rosy cosy and copasthetic, between Uncle Bobby and Sisi Siju, for many many months. S S, was getting the full Royal treatment from B B!!

Some how Bobby Benson caught wind that Sisi Siju, could be sneaky and edging her bet with a much more younger, trendy transporter, or driver of humans and cargo, of the Airborne type!!!

In his typical meticulous and discreet way. He covertly did his own thorough investigation, not minding what the Olofofos and the Amebos had told him, it was true.

Uncle Bobby, after his due diligence that cannot be controverted, literally drew the Curtain on the affair.

The culprit, turned out to be a driver, under Kofi Blankson's Authority. What I cannot tell you was if he was certified for DC 9, Fokker, Boeing.

You can be sure that this brazen, audacious Cannaby Street, attire wearing, psychedelic high must have been black listed from ever coming to any of Club or Room at Hotel Bobby. A persona non grata at that happening place of that era.

Rather than glamorize the Nigerian Airways pilot, and Sisi Siju,. Uncle Bobby Benson, downgraded the pilot to just an ordinary " TAXI DRIVER "

Let us stay the course and see how the correct appellation would have affected the music.

🎶If you marry Airways Pilot, I don't care............ 🎵

Disclosure: Uncle Bobby Benson, was a close and good family friend of my parents and family. They frequented each other regularly. They bantered and teased each other.

Bobby Benson, was a strict, disciplined and principled person. His memory and legacy lives on.

He was a pioneer of Highlife Music, in Nigeria. He tutored and mentored a lot of men, giving them the chance to play in his band to gain experience. In that regard he succeeded immensely, in producing outstanding and big time band leaders. To start naming them will take forever. Until he breath his last in an untimely way, he was still mentoring future band leaders.

To be continued........

By Yinka Alakija

Alakay. Alaska.

26th April 2023.

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