Fanio never really achieved major fame outside of western Nigeria, and even there his dance troupe, the Farofa Dancers, were probably more acclaimed than the music that guided their spectacular gyrations. For a while, though, Fanio seemed determined to establish Farofa as a musical brand that would be every bit as revolutionary and inextricably associated himself as Fela Anikulapo-Kuti's afrobeat.
This intention was made clear in the sleeve notes of Fanio's 1975 debut, penned by producer Odion Iruoje:
For some time, it seems that the popular music of the west Coast of Africa has been in the doldrums. Apart from Afro-beat which came into being since 1965 and some occasional Afro-rock hits, nothing seems to be forth-coming by way of another original African popular music. This record has been produced to fill that gap.
By successfully blending authentic African rhythm, played by the natives themselves, with some other musical influences, EPPI FANIO has created an Afro-folksy beat music which, at the same time, is appealing to both jazz and classical music enthusiasts.
With an approach as fresh as this combined with innate creativity and solid musical background, we can be sure that EPPI FANIO is going to be with us for a long time and "FAROFA" is the beginning of his beginning.
(Frankly, I'm a bit surprised that Iruoje would be so dismissive of the music of the first half of the 1970s, considering all the amazing, vital records that he himself produced during this period.)
The Farofa sound never really caught on the way it was hoped to, though. Part of the problem (in this writer's opinion) lay in the fact that it was hard to figure out exactly what it was--initially it seemed to be Yoruba folkloric music draped over afro-rock underpinnings furnished by musicians like BLO's Berkley Ike Jones and Ken Okulolo of Monomono; later Fanio turned a bit more towards melding his folksy melodies with disco, then funk and boogie and whatever else was the big sound of the day.
Another problem was Fanio's apparent mild-mannered musical presence. It takes a BIG personality to single-handedly establish a musical brand and the humble, retiring Fanio never really exuded that on record. He has, however, remained an industrious and articulate figure in the music scene and commanded respect amongst of his peers as the president of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigerian for a period during the late 1990s.
Here are two tracks from the 1975 LP Farofa. The lead vocals on "Here's My Love" are performed by Eric Kol, then freshly late of The Immortals.
Eppi Fanio - "Here's My Love"
Eppi Fanio - "Ikoko Ti Yio Jata" (On Perseverence)"