Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti was born on 15 October 1938 in Abeokuta, Nigeria to influential upper middle-class parents. His mother was one of Nigerias leading feminists and a prominent anti-colonial protester while his father, a preacher, was the first president of the Nigerian Union of Teachers. They planned careers in medicine for their three sons (and Olikoye Ransome-Kuti would go on to become the Nigerian health minister) but Fela, a rebel from the outset, switched courses within days of arriving in London to study. While he was attending Trinity College of Music between 1958 and 1961 he formed the Koola Lobitos. He led this highlife-influenced jazz band, as a trumpet player, taking full advantage of the underground London craze for African dance music in the 1960s.
Felas musical awakening happened over several years and in a handful of countries. After learning his chops in the UK, he started formulating his own sound while gigging in Ghana and Nigeria. But things really started to take shape during an otherwise ill-starred tour of America in 1969. It was during a stop at Los Angeles that he first met Sandra Smith, an African-American civil rights activist who had spent three months in jail after assaulting a police officer at a Black Panthers rally. It was through meeting her that he first began to think in an Afro-conscious way. As he told the journalist Carlos Moore: Sandra gave me the education I wanted. She was the one who opened my eyes She talked to me about politics, history she blew my mind really. While reading her copy of Malcolm Xs autobiography he realised that he wanted to play African music, and the Fela Kuti sound was finally born. Smith was the inspiration for this track: Kuti had been wearing out his welcome at her familys house, running up phone bills, wrecking cars, draining resources and making little headway with his music. Towards the end of his elongated American misadventure he debuted My Lady Frustration in a nightclub. The response, finally, was rapturous.