By George Onah
Port Harcourt Bureau Chief Geraldo Pino made a request to his creator, last year, when he suddenly took ill and was taken to University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Rivers State. He made a promise to God that he would become a pastor and would preach the gospel if he survived the ailment that struck him.Â But he was not spared, because he died four days later on 9th November, 2008.
The life and times of Geraldo Pino Born Gerald Emeka Pine in Enugu, present day Enugu State, on 1st February 1934 to a lawyer father and mother Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Pine, both from Sierra Leone. He had his primary school education at St. Patrickâ€™s Primary School, Coal Camp, Enugu, attended Prince Forbes College and Prince of Wales School, Sierra Leone for his secondary education. He later attended University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he read English Language.
While in college in Sierra Leone,Â he started experimenting with music and changed his name to Pino in 1965.
Music life Pinoâ€™s foray into music started when he assembled his first band called Extended Family, which played all forms of popular music at the time but with particular preference to soul music. In the early 1970s when American musician, James Brown took the world by storm by his type of music, Pino queued-in to James Brownâ€™s brand of music and hit stardom across the country.
He was particularly known in the Niger Delta area of Warri, Port Harcourt, Asaba and across the West African coastline of Lagos, Sierra Leone, Monrovia, Accra and Banjul, The Gambia.
While on stage, those who did not have the opportunity to watch James Brown live did not miss anything if they attended any of Pinoâ€™s shows. His mode of dressing was JB; even the American drawl in speech mannerism of Pino was clear imitation of JB. He did the JB slide and screams so well that he was tagged African James Brown.
Also in the 1970s, Clubs like Coppa Cabana, Lido Nite Club, Kclub â€™69 and later Barracuda Night Club and Bourga Villa as well as Cheers Bar Night Club all in Port Harcourt were hit zones of Pino.
He recorded several records under the label of EMI and DECCA. His successful outings with these labels earned him royalties including a coaster bus from EMI and his last album was titled Man pass Man, which was produced by Rotric Afric Company, Liverpool, UK.
One of his last shows was when the grand old musician was invited to play at the Barbican festival in London by Barbican City, courtesy of Jonathan Mayers, who was one of his former boys. Also, even in his last days and as an old man he performed with Wyclef in Port Harcourt and the crowd marvelled at his stage performance at that age.
Pino was a founding member of the Performing Musician Association of Nigeria, PMAN with registration no. 009 and later chairman of the Rivers State chapter from 1995 â€“ 2004. He nurtured such artistes as Etienne Tee Boy of the Chop I Chop fame, Ras Kimono, Oritz Wiliki, Daniel Wilson, Arthur Pepple, Alex O, Romantic Rolly, Willie Parker, David Mensah of Ghana, Muma Gee and many others.
Arthur Pepple, Chairman Rivers PMAN said he was a great musician and a musician extraordinary and that was why as soon as he was inaugurated as caretaker chairman of PMAN in June 19, he considered the burial of Pino a priority. â€œAs soon as I was inaugurated I told everybody that in less than one month, Geraldo Pino would be buried and to the glory of God, he has been buriedâ€.
He praised the Vice President Mr. Goodluck Jonathan for his great support and the Governor of Rivers State Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi who gave us maximum support financially and otherwise to ensure that Pino is buried today Saturday 8th August 2009â€.
The roll call at the burial of Pino were the National President of PMAN Admiral Dele Abiodun, represented by the National Secretary Mr. Idowu Blessing,Â the first president of PMAN Tony Okoroji, Julius Agu, Daniel Wilson, Peter Stone Cold and many others.
There were also some representatives of the Sierra Leonean family such as Chief Jimmy Coker and many others but the Sierra Leonean Government was not represented. Pino was 74.