If it weren’t for Don’t Stay Up Too Late’s thoughtful (and poetic) 100 Great Singles of the 1960s (That Haven’t Been Played to Death on Oldies Radio), I might never have learned of “Africa’s Guitar King” – Sir Victor Uwaifo – and the heavenly sounds he conjured on his 1966 single, “Guitar Boy“:
According to Uwaifo’s own website, “Guitar Boy” is a song that was directly inspired by the bandleader’s encounter one night at a Lagos beach bar with a mermaid — hence, the guitar’s “aqueous” sound. As Jusi I Love helpfully explains, the mermaid (who the singer calls mami wata) told him, “Guitar boy, if you see mami wata, never never you run away”. This larger-than-life tale has also been immortalized with a “sculptural representation of the mermaid and his guitar, constructed in a pool at Uwaifo’s Revelation Tourist Palazzo in Benin City.” Don’t Stay Up Late would commemorate the singer and song thusly:
Could “Guitar Boy” have been the inspiration for Jimi Hendrix’s epic 1968 composition, “1983 (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)“?
Uwaifo’s biography also informs us that, as a result of the popularity of his songs, a Ghanaian fabric was nicknamed “Joromi” (a song based on the story of a legendary hero in Benin history, as well as the name of Uwaifo’s own style of Highlife music), while “Guitar Boy” was used as a code name for a military coup in Ghana in the 1970s.
Uwaifo invented this double-neck “magic guitar” with 18 strings that can Be “rotated 360 degrees at the speed of sound”
Comb & Razor provides very interesting biographical details and music history here.