Filed under: Zaïre
♬ Save Me
Hailed throughout Africa as “Le Dieu de la Guitar” (“The God of the Guitar”), Nicolas Kasanda wa Mikalay was born on July 7th, 1939 in Mikalayi in the Kasai province of what was then the Belgian Congo.
In 1950, at age 11, Nico was introduced to Opika Studios by his cousin Tino Baroza and older brother Mwamba Déchaud who were session musicians there. At 14, he joined Joseph “Grand Kalle” Kabaselle‘s African Jazz. In 1957 he took up electric guitar and can be heard playing electric guitar on ‘Sophie Ya Yotema,’ recorded in 1960. In 1961 he temporarily split with Kabaselle and formed African Jazz Aile Nico before returning to Kabaselle in 1962 and 1963. Young Nico graduated with honours from high school and went on to college, while keeping his night job as Leopoldville‘s hottest young guitarist. He taught auto mechanics at the Christian Brothers school in N’djili district, Kinshasa, which earned him the nickname ‘Docteur’.
Nico quit teaching and broke away from African Jazz to form L’Orchestra African Fiesta in 1963 with Tabu Ley Rochereau, brother Déchaud, Kwamy, Mujos, Depuissant on conga and bassist Joseph Mwena. The band was joined by Roger’s brother Faugus Izeidi on third guitar, with both Dominique “Willy” Kuntima and Jeef Mingiedi on trumpet. Rochereau split two years later in 1965 to form African Fiesta National.
In 1969, the entire band, except his brother Déchaud, walked out Nico because they felt they weren’t getting their due. The Docteur quickly assembled a new band that included Josky Kiambukuta and Lessa Lassan on vocals. Bopol Mansiamina joined on guitar in 1970 and they kept it together for a few more years.
Success eluded Docteur Nico. He withdrew from the music scene in the mid 1970s following the collapse of his Belgian record label, and made a few final recordings in Togo. He drank heavily, leading to his early death in a Belgium hospital on 22 September 1985.
The two songs here, are credited to Bovick (a.k.a. Bovick Ye Bondo) who was also known to record with Verckys Kiamuangana Mateta’s Orchestre Vévé. He sang on their version of the Shocking Blue song “Venus“.
There is a complete discography for Docteur Nico here.
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