Etubom Rex Williams
Grandfather of Highlife Music
Etubom Rex Williams has earned his membership of the pantheon of legends of highlife music in Nigeria. This strong virtuoso trumpeter with a robust and compelling near tonal perfection stands as one of the most outstanding musicians of his era. Standing shoulder to shoulders with the likes of Dr Victor Olaiya, Bobby Benson, E.C Arinze, older generation of highlife maestros and those of his own generation like Eddy Okonta, Orlando Owoh, Eric Akaeze, Etubom Rex Williams was easily the greatest musician of his time from the area now known as Akwa Ibom State.
He was born in Etinan, in Akwa Ibom State in the 1930s. His father was a teacher and the founder of the Salvation Army in his town. He started out in music in the 1950s, playing in the Salvation Army Band. It was through the Salvation Army Band that he learnt to play the trumpet and the proper structure of music. It was at Enugu, where he was working in a radio station, that he met the great musician, E.T Mensah. That meeting changed his life and career.
Etubom Williams resigned his radio employment and went to Lagos to start a career in music. In 1960, he joined the band of Sir Victor Olaiya as the band leader, where he met Victor Uwaifo, who was playing in the band. He performed with music legend, Louis Armstrong when he toured Nigeria in 1961. At the outbreak of the civil war, Etubom Williams fled to the East from his base at Kainji, where he had a contract playing for the contractor building the Kainji dam. He then started playing at Onitsha in 1967 with the Army Band. When the war got to Onitsha, he moved back to Etinan, from where he moved to Calabar.
Etubom Rex Williams the Akwa Ibom legend of highlife music left many wave-making titles including, “Juliana”, “Kudara Ererimbot” and many others. His music is usually laced with great messages preaching good over evil. His music is all about love, peace and happiness. Highlife music lovers still relish great songs such as “Satan ke mbiet owo”, Ubok aka inua” and “Let us be happy” even now.
Akwa Ibom Celebrates a maestro.