Sounding as if they were the Yardbirds set down in Senegal and produced by Lee Perry, Etoile 2000 enjoyed a brief lifetime on the Senegalese music scene -- but the influence lingers on. The immediate roots of the band are in Étoile de Dakar; the group formed in 1977 after a number of musicians split from the venerable Star Band, which had been in existence since 1960 and which was the root of modern Senegalese music. Étoile de Dakar enjoyed the talents of two excellent vocalists, a young Youssou N'Dour and El Hadji Faye, in addition to guitarist Badou N'Daye, whose Hendrix influence showed in his very electric stylings. For two years the band was the toast of Dakar and Senegal's most popular band, playing all over the country. But inevitably rivalries occurred and in 1979, Faye and N'Daye split to form their own band, with the backing of businessman Mass Diokhane, who ran the Jandeer Club where Étoile de Dakar had usually performed.The band rehearsed in Diokhane's garage, and one night he taped the song "Boubou N'Gary." After playing all night, the musicians took a breakfast break and Diokhane sent an assistant to radio station ORTS with the tape of the song. Once played, it proved so popular that it was replayed all day long and the DJ, Golo Gaye, christened the band Etoile 2000. Over the next two days the band recorded three more songs for their initial release, still on Diokhane's primitive equipment, which sold a reputed 5,000 copies on the day it appeared in Dakar stores. With a screaming fuzz pedal, Faye's high griot voice, and liberal use of an echo chamber as their stock-in-trade, the band played frequently around Dakar and recorded two more cassettes, some tracks of which referred back to the Cuban sound which had long been popular in Senegal, others looking to the young, popular m'balax rhythm, filtered through their own personal lens.
After just three years, the band folded, but their memory is still alive in the CD Dakar Sound, issued in 1996 on the Dutch CNR label, which compiles tracks from all three of their releases, the wild "Boubou N'Gary" also appearing on The Music in My Head sampler. ~ Chris Nickson