Victor Olaiya Biography: Age, Wife, Children & Net Worth

Victor Olaiya – Odale Ore

Stage Name: Victor Olaiya
Real Name: Victor Abimbola Olaiya
Occupation: Musician
Date Of Birth/Age: 31 December 1930 – 12 February 2020
State of Origin: Ekiti State
Gender: Male
Nationality: Nigerian
Marital Status: Married
Known for: Odale Ore

Early Life 

Victor Abimbola Olaiya, born on 31 December 1930, in Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria, was the 20th child of Alfred Omolona Olaiya and Bathsheba Owolabi Motajo. Hailing from Ijesha-Ishu in Ekiti State, Olaiya grew up in a family of 24. The family’s opulent residence, Ilọijọs Bar, located at 2 Bamgbose Street, Lagos Island, was a testament to their affluence until its demolition in September 2016.

Career Beginnings

Despite his family’s wealth, Olaiya developed a passion for music at a young age, mastering the bombardon and the French horn. After completing his school certificate examination in 1951 in Lagos, he defied his parents’ wishes for him to pursue civil engineering at Howard University in the US. Instead, he embarked on a musical career, playing with various bands such as the Sammy Akpabot Band and the Old Lagos City Orchestra. He eventually became the leader and trumpeter for the Bobby Benson Jam Session Orchestra.

In 1954, Olaiya founded his own band, the Cool Cats, marking the beginning of his significant contributions to highlife music in Nigeria. His musical journey took him to various heights, including performing at state balls attended by Queen Elizabeth II, as well as during Nigeria’s independence in 1960 and the republic declaration in 1963. Notably, he shared the stage with the legendary American jazz musician, Louis Armstrong.

During the Nigerian Civil War (1967–70), Olaiya, now an honorary lieutenant colonel in the Nigerian army, and his band played for the troops at different locations. They even traveled to the Congo to entertain United Nations troops. Olaiya’s commitment to music extended beyond performing; he ran a business importing and distributing musical instruments and accessories in West Africa and established the renowned Stadium Hotel in Surulere.

Awards and Recognition

Olaiya’s contributions to the Nigerian music scene earned him the second rank (officer) of the national Order of the Niger award. In 1990, he received a fellowship from the Institute of Administrative Management of Nigeria. Additionally, he served as the president of the Nigerian Union of Musicians for a period.

Wife and Kids 

Victor Olaiya’s personal life was characterized by marrying several wives and having numerous children and grandchildren. His daughter, Moji Olaiya, gained fame as a Nollywood actress, while he shared his musical passion with his son, Bayode Olaiya.

On 12 February 2020, at the age of 89, Victor Abimbola Olaiya passed away at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, leaving behind a rich legacy in the world of Nigerian highlife music.

Musical Style

Olaiya’s musical style served as a bridge between Ghanaian highlife and the emerging Afrobeat genre. Influenced by James Brown, his music featured harmonized horn parts, a departure from the unison lines typical of Afrobeat. Notably, his sound incorporated elements reminiscent of the swinging percussion of Tony Allen.

Olaiya collaborated with Ghanaian highlife musician E. T. Mensah and worked alongside notable figures like Tony Allen and Fela Kuti, who went on to achieve individual success in the music industry.

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Olaiya’s discography is a testament to his prolific career, featuring a range of albums spanning from the late 1950s to the early 2000s. Some notable works include “Odale Ore,” “Olaiya’s Victories,” and “Highlife Reincarnation.” His collaborations with other artists, such as E. T. Mensah, enriched the highlife music landscape.


Victor Abimbola Olaiya‘s ability to blend cultural influences, his entrepreneurial ventures, and his dedication to music earned him the title of “The Evil Genius of Highlife.” His impact on the Nigerian music scene remains immeasurable, influencing subsequent generations of musicians and contributing to the cultural richness of the nation’s musical tapestry.