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Rex Jim Lawson was a well known name of the Nigerian highlife scene whose tunes achieved big popularity across Africa. Born mixed Kalabari and Igbo parentage in the town of New Kalabar, in present-day Rivers State, he got his start in Port Harcourt's Starlite Melody Orchestra, led by Lord Eddyson.
By 1960 he was leading his own group, the Nigeriaphone Studio Orchestra of Onitsha and had played with the "big names" of Nigerian highlife as Bobby Benson, Roy Chicago, Victor Olaiya and others. With his second group, the Majors Band of Nigeria and in later years named the Rivers Men, he scored innumerable hits over the sixties and early seventies. The biggest was "Sawale", in pidgen English, and has been remade numerous times by various artists.
Until the mid sixties Dance Band Highlife Music was all the rage. But then in 1967 the Nigerian cival war broke out and destroyed a lot of the Highlife orchestras that were lead by musicians from the East, among them the Rex Lawson's River Men.
After Rex Lawson's dead in a car crash in 1971(1970) members of his backup group The Rivers Men still influenced by their former leader, re-established themselves as The Professional Seagulls Dance Band and The Peacocks and recorded several LP's of their own.