Nigeria’s music industry was again hit over the weekend by the death of one of its veterans, Berkley Jones Ike.
The legendary Nigerian guitarist was a member of BLO, a popular musical group of the 70s and early ’80s.
He reportedly died at Asaba, Delta State where he went for a job. He would have turned 72 in a few weeks time.
Berkley first appeared on the Nigerian music scene in the mid-1960s, as the drummer in the Port Harcourt-based teen pop group The Figures.
In 1970, at the end of the Nigerian civil war, he signed on as lead guitarist in the rock n’ soul band The Funkees, where his adventurous guitar lines got him noticed by talent scouts who instantly whisked him off to Lagos and installed him in the high profile rock group, The Clusters.
The Clusters soon morphed into the Afro Collection under the leadership of Tee Mac Iseli, and then into SALT under Ginger Baker. Eventually the group splintered, giving birth to Nigeria’s first afro-rock power trio BLO – Berkley Jones Ike, Laolu Akins, and Mike Gbenga Odumosu.
BLO was one of Nigeria’s most respected and influential rock groups throughout the seventies.
They recorded some afro-rock songs such as Preacher Man and Native Doctor.
Berkley quit the music business in the early eighties and moved into interior designs and architecture up till his death.