May 22, 2018




By Oris Aigbokhaevbolo

Six years after his death, music maestro Steve Rhodes is remembered at a memorial in his honour.

A section of the Rhodes exhibition
A section of the exhibition

The memorial, consisting of a photo exhibition and holding at Freedom Park, Lagos, was declared open May 29, by Professor Wole Soyinka. Recalling meeting with Rhodes at a church service, the Nobel laureate referred to himself as a ‘church lapsarian,’ saying his favourite encounter with Steve Rhodes was during the 2003 COJA Games.

Soyinka at Steve Rhodes memorial
Professor Soyinka gave opening speech at the memorial

Noting that May 29 is the nation’s Democracy Day, Professor Soyinka said “Unlike certain names on the centenary list, we know the contributions of today’s honoree.”


Among items on display were scanned newspaper clippings—from 1991 to 2006, from profiles by journalists Benson Idonije to Steve Ayorinde, and from the defunct publication African Concorde to the extant Guardian—which adorned the walls, speaking of the very rich and public life of the late music impresario.

Newspaper Clippings
Newspaper cutouts on display

Also on display are a list of members of Steve Rhodes Voices, a group of young musicians led by Rhodes from 1971 to 2001.

Steve Rhodes Voices

The list contains several recognizable names, including Dejumo Lewis of the Village Headmaster series from 1971; actress Joke Silva from 1974; and late actors Enebeli Elebuwa and Francis Agu from 1982 and 1988 respectively.


Photos of SteveRhodes  receiving honours
Awards for Steve
Lagbaja and Ali Baba as Yinka Davies looks on
Ali Baba added a comic verse to Lagaja’s Skentele Skontolo

The exhibition provides some surprises, one of which is that Steve Rhodes, as a child, along with his elder sisters attended Queen’s College, known mainly as an all-girls institution. Gloria, his eldest sister, however said at the opening that it wasn’t entirely strange at the time as a few other boys also attended the school.

Photo from Steve's childhood
On display, scenes from Steve’s childhood

Singer Yinka Davies performed as visitors entered to see photos and memorabilia from Rhodes’ life, and later spoke about her relationship with the musician, saying: “Steve Rhodes found me really. But I was never in the band because I couldn’t stay still.”

Gloria and Olga, Steve's elder sisters
Gloria and Olga, Steve’s elder sisters

She continued, “We had a cat and mouse relationship, and I loved daddy. Yet I had to be away from him because he was mean while working. But he was a softie outside of the music. You could stroll with him and not be bored.”

Section of the exhibition
Steve’s jacket hanging at the exhibition

Musician Lagbaja also visited the exhibition and sang a duet with Ms Davies, the duo giving a rousing rendition of Lagbaja’s Skentele Skontolo. Comedian Ali Baba joined in and added a comic improvisation to the performance, as Professor JP Clark, renowned poet, watched.

JP Clark, in orange, at the Steve Rhodes Memorial opening, 2014
JP Clark was in attendance
Rhodes' receipt for Queen's College fees
A Queen’s College document showing fees for the Rhodes siblings


Lagbaja said Steve Rhodes was, for him, a figure representing “quality and the quest for that ever evasive perfection.”

That view of Rhodes’ importance was supported by Ben Ogbeiwi, a judge on Project Fame, who said, “Steve Rhodes was a true definition of an icon whose impact was felt worldwide.”


Soyinka at Rhodes memorial
Soyinka looking at memorabilia on display

The Steve Rhodes Foundation, organisers of the memorial, has hopes of the event becoming a yearly celebration of the life and work of Steve Rhodes. This inaugural edition closes June 5, 2014.

Steve Rhodes died May 29, 2008, at 82, after a career spanning 6 decades.


See more photos from the opening, below.

Photos of Rhodes family
The Rhodes family
Yinka Davies and Benson Idonije
Singer Yinka Davies with journalist Benson Idonije

Visitors at Rhodes memorial

Photos adorning the walls of the venue
Photos from a rich life
Programmes of Steve Rhodes' concerts
Programmes from Steve Rhodes’ concerts
Steve's passport
Steve’s passport, also on display
Lagbaja at the Rhodes memorial
Lagbaja at the memorial
An excited Yinka Davies with Ali Baba and Lagbaja
A visibly excited Yinka Davies with Ali Baba and Lagbaja
Flyer from a Rhodes concert
Flyer from a Rhodes concert
Flyer from a Rhodes concert
Flyer from a Rhodes concert
Flyer from a Rhodes concert
Flyer from a Rhodes concert
Flyer from a Rhodes concert
Flyer from a Rhodes concert


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