Toks Ilorin

Musician • Teacher • Promoter of African Music

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I started playing guitar in secondary school. We had a guitar teacher who came in once a week to give us individual lessons. His name was Mr. Baulch and he only played classical guitar. I thought that was a bit limited at first, but I learnt to play a lot of the guitar repertoire over the next couple of years. The teacher even took me to a segovia concert and I got segovia's autograph.

When I left school I kept on writing songs and played a lot of my stuff to earn a living. I eventually got asked out of the blue to sing on a track called "Closer to the Truth " by a musician called Alan Eastwood. Then a great bass player called George Oban asked me to play on a couple of tracks on his album on Island Records . I remember one of the tracks was called "Ethiopian Rhapsody".

I did a lot of travelling, and spent time in Africa and Europe. I studied music at a University in London and in Sweden. I'm not sure what good it did for me, but I'm sure it didn't do me any harm. For a long time I was into the african guitar style and when I lived in Abidjan in the Ivory Coast I got to know a guitarist called Vata Mambassa who is almost a legend. He came originally from Congo Kinshasa, the true home of African guitar virtuosity. He really inspired me. I spent some quality time in Sweden and fairly long periods in the Sahara , in towns like El Golea, Guardaia, Ain Salah and Tamanrassett, and in the Sahel region.

Music brings you into contact with so many different people. I wrote a book of called "Essential African Guitar Studies", which I hope to release in the near future.