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Fela: This Bitch of a Life: The Authorized Biography of Africa's Musical Genius Paperback – 1 Nov 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Omnibus Press (1 Nov. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849386730
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849386739
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 2.1 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 344,658 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Fela was an incredible pioneer. His rhythms and influence have been absorbed into so much of the music around today, and the musical world owes him a debt of gratitude. --Stevie Wonder

About the Author

Carlos Moore is a political scientist and an ethnologist. He is an honorary research fellow at the School for Graduate Studies and Research of the University of the West Indies-Kingston and the author of Pichon: Race and Revolution in Castro's Cuba.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Amazon Customer on 27 Dec. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a good insight into the world of Fela Kuti. It uses stories from those who knew him close up. The book is a good page turner.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 11 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Little coverage of Fela's music, but plenty about his wacky personality and life at the Kalakuta compound 22 Aug. 2011
By Christopher Culver - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
FELA is a biography of the Nigerian musician and political activist Fela Kuti, originally published in 1982. The Cuban ethnologist Carlos Moore spent hours interviewing Fela and produced an overview of Fela's life and values that Fela authorized. Generally the biography proceeds in the first person, a sign that it was transcribed from interviews.

Moore's biography doesn't speak much of Fela's music, but rather Fela's life and times, especially his numerous run-ins with Nigeria's military regime. There is some good coverage of his formative years, namely his early studies in England, his 1960s doldrums, and his trip to the United States that changed everything.

The term "authorized biography" might lead on to expect that sordid and risque details are left out, but Fela was so sexually flamboyant that he insisted Moore cover his relationships with women in depth. The singer believed in free love and would bed any groupie who came to his compound, usually enjoying multiple women a day. A few years before, Fela had infamously married 27 female members of his entourage and he invited Moore to interview the 15 "queens" who now remained with him. While Fela's lack of restraint and misogynism are appalling, one does have to admire the tenacity of these women who stayed with their man through parental disapproval, beatings by police and soldiers and imprisonment.

The 1982 text has been left unchanged, but Moore has added a poignant epilogue that describes Fela's deterioration over the 1980s and 1990s. First, Fela became increasingly paranoid, believing that spirits were talking to him and that close friends were CIA agents out to get him. Some of his longtime associates left him at this point, and his musicianship suffered, though ironically this is when he was in the greatest demand by international music labels. Then, multiple imprisonments, the regime of Sani Abacha and AIDS managed to silence him over his last years. In compiling a Fela discography and reading critical commentary, I had been puzzled by the obscurity of his late career, and Moore's biography explains why Fela's Seventies achievements form the core of his output.

All in all, as a Fela Kuti fan, I found Moore's biography informative and enjoyable. It could have used more discussion of Fela's music (there's nothing here about his relationship with his band members or stylistic evolution), but it was certainly still worthwhile.
11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Get, Good!! 26 May 2009
By Hrw - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of the better biography's I've read about an Afrakan.This book talk's to the people who knew Fela. Who lived in the Kalakuta Republic house. I actually read this book may be twenty years ago, because of my interest in Fela and his music. My original copy got ripped off, and this is a "must have" book to try and understand this great musician and human being. Hrw
Great biography 21 Sept. 2014
By K. Carter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a great biography of a musician and a man who fought so hard for the liberation of Nigerian people. Without this book, we would not have had the play or up-coming movie.
This Bitch of a Life 19 May 2011
By I.S.U - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is good for Africans as well as Fela Kuti fans worldwide, but I wouldn't recommend it to women and homosexuals. This is not to say that Fela had no women and homosexual fans. It's just that the section on both groups are quite shocking. I removed 1 star for women and another star for homosexuals.
Insightful 3 Feb. 2015
By Kayode - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very detailed biography of the greatest African musician of all time!
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