BREAKING LOOSE: The only band that has stood the test of time is Afrigo Band. Their secret is probably one they have not shared with other singing groups and bands. Carolyne B Atangaza found out some of the things that lead to their break ups. Is it greed, sex, money?
Numerous bands have popped up with great music and spectacular performances only to dissolve unceremoniously. Bands such as Kads Band, Eagles Production, Blu3, Dream Girls, Wafagio, Obsessions, to mention but a few, all disbanded leaving behind nostalgia, broken hearts and more questions than answers.
Apart from rumours and speculation of internal strife reported in gossip pages, these bands almost never release official statements to explain to their legions of fans why they quit. Even long after the bands dissolved, most musicians refuse to commit themselves to a particular reason why they quit. However, they chose to comment unanimously and generally in helping us try to understand why this problem persists. Money, greed, sex and witchcraft topped the various reasons why bands break up.
Money, greed, power
Ronald Mayinja, one of the former founders and directors of the Eagles Production said although individual bands might have unique problems, when viewed generally they all boil down to money, greed and power struggles.
“Everybody wants to prove that they are bigger than the other at some point. I don’t want to discuss much about Eagles Production because there is no future in the past, but if things had been good, I would not have left because I do not believe in separation,” the singer adds. Eagles Production started in 1998 and quickly became a fan favourite because its music tackled the very issues that people face in their daily lives. The band won numerous awards including band of the year at the then reputable PAM awards.
By 2011, there were rumours of the band being torn apart by favouritism, especially while allocating album launch dates. Apparently, the directors gave themselves the more festive holidays, relegating the rest of the artistes to the dry months. By 2013, it was obvious that the centre couldn’t hold anymore and the band split into two groups; Golden Band and Kream Productions.
Remember the Obsessions? They started out as a dance group back in 1999 and matured into an award winning band scoring the prestigious regional Kisima Award and two PAM awards among other accolades. However, even this impressive evolutionary progression could not keep the group from falling apart in 2012. Ronnie Mulindwa, the group’s director, refrained from giving details of the group’s demise but commented generally on the things that have led to the breakup of various prominent bands.
“A lot of things cause break ups but money, sex and ego top the list,” says Mulindwa.
Echoing Mayinja’s observation, Mulindwa also alludes to power struggles in bands:
“For the boys, fame gets to their heads and they decide to break away to create their own groups, and the girls fall for lies from men who promise to launch their solo careers in return for sexual favours,” adds Mulindwa.
Renowned music promoter and critic Eddie Sendi, elaborated further how greed, sex and money have felled many bands and cut short many promising careers.
“There is a lot of greed for money among our artistes; they forget that to have a successful career in the music industry takes time, patience and dedication. Now you find this girl who is paid Shs20,000 to perform being lured by men who promise her money for sex. A man will call her on the very night she is supposed to perform and offer her Shs100,000 for a good time with him at say some hotel in Rubaga. She will obviously cut the gig and make money the easy way. This by the way is not only limited to the girls, I know very many boys who are “married” to loaded women who dictate on their careers, and usually not for the better,” Sendi explains.
Another former band member, who preferred anonymity, cautioned against judging musicians for leaving bands or groups in search of solo or other careers.
“Making ends meet as a musician can be stressful, but making it surrounded by a group of equally or more talented people than you, who are not interested in your growth at all, is even more stressful. Sometimes it makes sense to struggle on your own and when you fail, you are satisfied knowing that you did all you could,” she said.
Another consistent reason band breakups are said to be rampant was lack of focus and commitment to their craft.
“To understand why one quits, you have to know the motivation for their joining the band in the first place. Most of those who quit were not necessarily looking to pursue successful careers in music; they were there simply in it for the fame and money. They do not have a real strategy for building a successful music career. So they jump on every bandwagon that comes along as long as it promises to satisfy their pursuit of money and fame,” an artiste explained.
And then there is that other problem rampant in music circles that is always only whispered but is real; witchcraft. Countless stories have been published about artistes visiting shrines, sacrificing people, going under water in search of successful careers. Most musicians, upon finding this dark side of the industry cease to believe in their own talent and become increasingly dependent on foreign powers, which creates a disequilibrium.
“If you go to a witchdoctor and he tells you that there is a fellow band member blocking your success, you know how they (witchdoctors) tend to be vague, you will become suspicious of everyone and either start doing things to sabotage them in return, or simply leave the group. Our artistes are still very much in the African traditional society and unless this changes, we are going to see more promising careers cut short,” Sendi cautions.
The Ugandan music industry is very lucrative and has very many possibilities for talented people but unless these musicians stop biting off their noses to spite their faces, their potential might never become a profitable, successful reality.