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Osibisa

Osibisa

The Pioneers of Afro-Rock and World Music

1958

History
21 July 1958

History

The roots of Osibisa trace back to Ghana in the 1950s, where Teddy Osei (saxophone), Sol Amarfio (drums), Mamon Shareef, and Farhan Freere (flute) played in a highlife band called The StarGazers. After forming The Comets with Osei's brother Mac Tontoh on trumpet, they scored a hit in West Africa with their 1958 song "(I Feel) Pata Pata." In 1962, Osei moved to London to study music on a scholarship from the Ghanaian government and later formed Cat's Paw, an early "world music" band combining highlife, rock, and soul. In 1969, Osei convinced Amarfio and Tontoh to join him in London, and Osibisa was born. The initial lineup also included Grenadian Spartacus R (bass), Trinidadian Robert Bailey (keyboard), Antiguan Wendell Richardson (lead guitar and lead vocalist), and Nigerians Mike Odumosu and Fred Coker (bass guitar) and Lasisi Amao (percussionist and tenor saxophone).

1969

Other members
10 December 1969

Other members

In 1969, Osei convinced Amarfio and Tontoh to join him in London, and Osibisa was born. The initial lineup also included Grenadian Spartacus R (bass), Trinidadian Robert Bailey (keyboard), Antiguan Wendell Richardson (lead guitar and lead vocalist), and Nigerians Mike Odumosu and Fred Coker (bass guitar) and Lasisi Amao (percussionist and tenor saxophone).

1970

Achievements and Influence
21 July 1970

Achievements and Influence

Osibisa enjoyed immense success throughout the 1970s, captivating audiences around the world with their electrifying performances. They toured extensively in Japan, Australia, India, and Africa, spreading their unique sound and introducing African music to global audiences. The band's hits, such as "Music for Gong Gong," "Sunshine Day," and "Dance the Body Music," found their place in the UK Singles Chart and Billboard charts.

1984

Album Covers
13 July 1984

Album Covers

Osibisa's early albums featured iconic artwork by famed progressive-rock artist Roger Dean, known for his work on covers for bands like Yes. The band's symbol, flying elephants, became synonymous with their identity. Subsequent albums featured cover art by Mati Klarwein and Henri Rousseau, each contributing to the band's unique visual identity.

1990

Later Years
21 July 1990

Later Years

The music industry's changing landscape, with the rise of punk and disco, led to declining sales for Osibisa. The band faced label changes and returned to Ghana, setting up a recording studio and theater complex to support younger highlife musicians. In the 1990s, unauthorized CD collections of their music emerged, leading to disputes over royalties. In 1996, Osei reformed the band, and their past releases started coming out legally on CD. Osibisa continued their musical journey, recording new material and performing live shows. However, Osei eventually reduced his touring schedule due to the effects of a stroke.

2004

Allegations Regarding Kiki Djan
21 July 2004

Allegations Regarding Kiki Djan

Following the death of keyboardist Kiki Djan, his daughter, Vanessa Sullivan Djan, expressed grievances regarding the band's handling of his contributions. However, Teddy Osei refuted the reports, emphasizing that the band took care of Kiki since he joined at a young age until his passing in 2004.

2023

Legacy
21 July 2023

Legacy

Osibisa's impact on the music world endures, with their pioneering fusion of genres and cross-cultural appeal. They remain celebrated for introducing African music to international audiences and influencing generations of African musicians. Their discography continues to be cherished, with their vibrant performances and cultural representation leaving a lasting imprint on the world music scene.

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