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|Also known as||O-S-I-B-I-S-A, Osi Bisa, Osibisi, Osibissa, オシビサ|
|Origin||London, England. Accra, Ghana.|
|Labels||MCA Records, Bronze, Island, Decca (US), Warner Bros., Red Steel, Flying Elephant, BGO|
Osibisa are a Ghanaian-English Afro Rock band, founded in London in 1969 by four expatriate West African and three Caribbean musicians. Their music is a fusion of African, rock, highlife, Caribbean, jazz rock, funk, Latin and even some traces of R&B and Prog.
Osibisa were the most successful and longest lived of the African-heritage bands in London, alongside such contemporaries as Assagai, Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath, Demon Fuzz, and Noir, and were largely responsible for the establishment of world music and Afro-Rock as a marketable genre.
The original band which featured on the first three studio albums were universally known as The Beautiful Seven.
In Ghana in the 1950s, Teddy Osei (saxophone), Sol Amarfio (drums), Mamon Shareef, and Farhan Freere (flute) played in a highlife band called The Star Gazers. They left to form The Comets, with Osei's brother Mac Tontoh on trumpet, and 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. In 1964, he formed Cat's Paw, an early "world music" band that combined highlife, rock, and soul. In 1969, he persuaded Amarfio and Tontoh to join him in London, and Osibisa was born.
Joining them in the first incarnation were Grenadian Spartacus R (bass); Trinidadian Robert Bailey (keyboard); Antiguan Wendell Richardson (lead guitar and lead vocalist); Nigerians Mike Odumosu and Fred Coker (bass guitar) and Lasisi Amao (percussionist and tenor saxophone). The band spent much of the 1970s touring the world, playing to large audiences in Japan, Australia, India, and Africa. During this time Paul Golly (guitar) and Ghanaians Daku Adams "Potato" and Kiki Gyan were also members of the band. In 1980, Osibisa performed at a special Zimbabwean independence celebration, and in 1983 were filmed onstage at the Marquee Club in London.
Osibisa had an important series of gigs in India in 1981 culminating in the release of the ‘Unleashed - Live in India’ album. The band engaged in a return to India performing at the ‘November Fest 2010’ on 28th November 2010 at the Corporation Kalaiarangam in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.
Changes in the music industry meant declining sales for the band, and a series of label changes resulted. The band returned to Ghana to set up a recording studio and theatre complex to help younger highlife musicians.
In the 1990s, their music was anthologised in many CD collections, with some of them allegedly unauthorised and paying no royalties whatsoever to the band. This has been disputed by Osei however who along with Amarfio and Tontoh ran the band from the 1980’s onwards.
In the early 1990’s, Osei regrouped the band, and many of their past releases began coming out properly and legally on CD. This included a remaster series with bonus material and various new releases of hitherto unreleased material and live concerts on the Red Steel / Flying Elephant label collaboration.
Work progressed on new material culminating in the 1996 release of Monsore, the first album of new material since the late 1980’s. The revitalised band continued to tour and record fairly consistently until Osei’s stroke some fifteen years later. Osei cut back his touring schedule due to the effects of his illness.
Various new recording and release projects were carried out from the mid-nineties onwards with remastered, remixed and re-recorded projects seeing the light of day on a fairly consistent basis which helped to keep the band relevant. This included previously unreleased material from the ‘African Flight’ period, the incomplete follow up which had a working title of ‘African Dawn’, live projects including the bands fourth official live offering, ‘Aka Ka Kra: Acoustic Live’. A new studio album, ‘Osee Yee’ was released in 2009.
After the removal of personnel by Osei in 2014/15 recording of new material commenced. The new recording project with Osei at the helm commenced in late 2015 shortly after the successful placement of material that was chosen for Richard Linklater’s worldwide, Grammy winning movie’ ‘Boyhood’.
Apart from one track included on the bands 2020 ‘The Boyhood Sessions’ album these recordings featuring Osei remain unreleased to date.
The name Osibisa was described in lyrics, album notes and interviews as meaning "criss-cross rhythms that explode with happiness" but it actually comes from "osibisaba" the Fante word for highlife. Ace Ghanaian hip-hop music producer Hammer of The Last Two stated that his debut production, Obrafour's Pae Mu Ka album, the highest selling hiplife album to date was inspired by a single song ("Welcome Home") by Osibisa. He also had the chance to work with Kiki Gyan a few days before his death.
Their first two albums featured artwork by the progressive-rock artist Roger Dean (before he became widely known for his artwork), depicting the flying elephants which became the symbol for the band. The third album, Heads, features a cover by Mati Klarwein, known for his covers of Santana’s Abraxas and Miles Davis (Bitches Brew). Osibirock, the bands sixth studio release features "Negro Attacked by a Jaguar" (1910) by Henri Rousseau. Playing on the original flying elephants theme, the Ultimate Collection set features elephants with tank turrets for heads, an early Roger Dean idea reborn for the project. In 2009, their Osee Yee album featured the flying elephants once more, this time painted by Freyja Dean (Dean's daughter). Roger Dean's logo for the band continues to be used on many of the releases comprising classic material. Artwork for many of the reissues and nineties material onwards was put together by Frank McPartland and the Grammy Award winning designer Rachel Gutek.
Allegations regarding Kiki Djan
Following the death of keyboardist Kiki Djan, his daughter Vanessa Sullivan Djan, in an interview she granted a local newspaper RazzPaper, stated “They betrayed him! If I’m your friend and I’m into some form of immorality and you watch me go on with it till I crush, that is a form of betrayal! Kiki wrote many songs when he was part of Osibisa but they never gave him credit for that. That was another betrayal”. Teddy Osei, who refuted the reports said in an interview with Let’s Talk Entertainment (LTE) on JoyNews on MultiTV, the group took care of Kiki, who joined the band at age 18, until his death in 2004.
- Saxophone: Teddy Osei (1937– )
- Trumpet: Mac Tontoh (born Kweku Adabanka Tonto, 1940–2010), Colin Graham, Kenny Wellington
- Flute: Abdul Loughty Lasisi Amao ( –1988)
- Trombone: Abdul Remiola
- Percussion, congas: Kofi Ayivor, Nii Tagoe, Darko Adams 'Daku' Potato (1932–1995), Dinesh Pandit
- Drums: Solomon "Sol" Amarfio (1938– ), KB -2016), Frank Tontoh, Remi Kabaka, Robert Fordjour
- Keyboards: Robert Bailey, Bessa Simons, Kwame Yeboah (1977– ), Chris Jerome, Emmanuel Rentzos, Errol Reid, Kiki Gyan (1957-2004), Jean Rousell
- Guitars: Kari Bannerman, Wendell "Dell" Richardson, Tony Etoria, Paul Golly ( –1977), Gordon Hunte, Kwame Yeboah (1977– ), Jake Solo, Robert Abia Moore, Matola, Winston Delandro
- Bass guitar: Spartacus R (born Roy Bedeau, 1948–2010), Mike Odumosu, Fred Coker, Victor Mensah, Herman Asafo-Agyei, Gregg Kofi Brown, Jean-Karl Dikoto Mandengue (1948– ), Abia Moore, Dino Walcott
- Vocals: Teddy Osei, Dell Richardson, Emmanuel Rentzos, Wendell Richardson, Gregg Kofi Brown, Pamela Carter, Desiree Heslop
The original line-up consisted of Teddy Osei (saxophone, flute, and vocals), Mac Tontoh (trumpet and background vocals), Sol Amarfio (drums and backing vocals), all three from Ghana, Loughty Lassisi Amao (congas, percussion, and horns), from Nigeria, Robert Bailey (keyboards), from Trinidad, Spartacus R (bass), from Grenada, and Wendell Richardson (lead guitar and vocals) from Antigua; together they were also known as "the beautiful seven". The first to exit officially was Spartacus R, who was replaced numerous times, once by the bassist of the group Assagai, Fred Coker followed by Jean Mandengue in 1973 and several others. Amao left and was replaced by Kofi Ayivor, who was replaced by Dali Potato but returned to the group later. Richardson left in 1972 to join Free replacing an ailing Paul Kossoff. Richardson returned in 1975 after recording a solo album. Richardson returned for the bands seventh and eight studio efforts "Welcome Home" and “Ojah Awake” and sang lead on the bands biggest hit "Sunshine Day". Bailey was replaced by Jean Rousell in 1973 for the “Superfly TNT” and “Happy Children” sessions and in turn by Kiki Gyan for 1974’s ‘Osibirock’ album. Richardson was replaced in 1973 by Gordon Hunte, followed by Paul Golly and later by Kari Bannerman when he departed the group for the second time in the late 1970’s. Black Welsh guitarist Tony Etoria, who had a hit in 1977 with "I Can Prove It", joined on guitar in the early 1980s.
- 1971 – Osibisa – (Billboard Hot 200 No. 55 – UK No. 11 – Can.#49, AUS #13)
- 1971 – Woyaya – (Billboard No. 66 – UK No. 11 – Can.#61, AUS #15) - Although conventionally spelled Woyaya, the title is actually Wɔyaya (with an open-o), which comes from the Ghanaian Ga language.
- 1972 – Heads – (Billboard No. 125 – Can.#86, AUS #19)
- 1973 – Superfly T.N.T. Soundtrack (Billboard #159)
- 1973 – Happy Children (Billboard #202, AUS #46)
- 1974 – Osibirock (Billboard #175, AUS #67)
- 1975 – Welcome Home (Billboard #200, AUS #75)
- 1976 – Ojah Awake
- 1979 – Mystic Energy
- 1980 – Celebration
- 1981 – African Flight
- 1983 – African Dawn (unreleased)
- 1989 – Movements
- 1990 – African Criss Cross
- 1995 – Monsore
- 1998 – Urban Village (unreleased)
- 2003 – African Dawn, African Flight
- 2004 – Wango Wango
- 2009 – Osee Yee
- 2020 – The Boyhood Sessions
- 2021 – New Dawn
- 1977 – Black Magic Night: Live at the Royal Festival Hall
- 1982 – Unleashed - Live in India
- 1984 – Live at The Marquee
- 1998 – Live at Cropredy
- 2001 – Aka Kakra
- 2005 – Blue Black Night
- 1972 – Spirits Up Above
- 1973 – Best of Osibisa AUS #88
- 1981 - Osibisa Likes (India only)
- 1992 – Africa We Go Go
- 1992 – Uhuru
- 1992 – The Warrior
- 1992 – Ayiko Bia
- 1992 – Jambo
- 1992 – Gold
- 1992 – Celebration: The Best of Osibisa
- 1992 – Criss Cross Rhythms
- 1994 – The Very Best of Osibisa
- 1997 – Hot Flashback Volume 1
- 1997 – Sunshine Day: The Very Best of Osibisa
- 1997 – The Ultimate Collection (2 CDs)
- 1999 – The Best of Osibisa
- 2001 – Best of Vol.1
- 2001 – The Very Best of Osibisa (3 CDs)
- 2002 – Millennium Collection
- 2002 – Best of Osibisa
- 2008 – Selected Works
- 2008 – Sunshine Day: The Hits
- 2009 – The Very Best of Osibisa
- 2015 – Singles As, Bs & 12 Inches Box Set (4xCD)
- Contributing artist
- 1971 – "Music for Gong Gong"
- 1972 – "Wango Wango"
- 1972 – "Ana Bo 1"
- 1972 – "Magnifico 7” EP
- 1972 - “Survival”
- 1973 – "Prophets"
- 1973 – "Happy Children"
- 1974 – "Adwoa"
- 1974 – "Who's Got The Paper"
- 1975 – "Sunshine Day" (UK #17)
- 1976 – "Black Ant"
- 1975 – "The Warrior"
- 1976 – "Dance the Body Music" (UK #31)
- 1976 – "The Coffee Song"
- 1977 – "The Warrior"
- 1977 – "Black Out"
- 1978 – "Living Loving Feeling"
- 1980 – "Jumbo"
- 1980 – "Celebration"
- 1980 – "Oreba"
- 1980 – "I Feel Pata Pata"
- 1982 – "Move Your Body"
- 1985 – "Wooly Bully"
- 1987 - “Getting Hot” EP
- 1995 – "Sunshine Day (radio edit)"
- 1996 – "Sunshine Day (Hot Summer Mix)” EP
- 1997 – "Dance The Body Music” video single (unreleased)
- 1998 – "Sunshine Day (Dancemaster Techno Mix)”
- 1998 – "Dance The Body Music (The Edge Mix)"
- 1998 – "Sunshine Day/Dance The Body Music (The Edge & Dancemaster EP)" Vinyl only
- 1999 – "Survival"
- 2019 – "Hold On"
- 2020 – "Feel Good(Boyhood Mix)"
- 2020 – "Nkosi Sikele Afrika / Woyaya"
- 2021 – "Douala”
- 1983 – Warrior (VHS) (recorded 5 April 1983 at the Marquee Club, London)
- 2003 – Osibisa – Live (DVD Plus) (same show as above)
- 2012 – Live from the Marquee Club (same show as above)
- Lloyd Bradley, Sounds Like London: 100 Years of Black Music in the Capital, 2013. (Contributors)
- Charles Aniagolu: Osibisa – Living In The State Of Happy Vibes And Criss Cross Rhythms. Victoria (CDN): Trafford Publishing, 2004, ISBN 1-4120-2106-5.
- Brigitte Tast, Hans-Jürgen Tast be bop – Die Wilhelmshöhe rockt. Disco und Konzerte in der Hölle, Verlag Gebrüder Gerstenberg GmbH & Co. KG, Hildesheim, ISBN 978-3-8067-8589-0.
- "OSIBISA: FULL ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY". Modernghana.com. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
- Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 924. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
- "2006 seminars at Musical Workshop Labyrinth, Crete, Greece". Worldmusiccentral.org. 4 April 2006. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
- "OSIBISA". Donaldclarkemusicbox.com. Retrieved 6 October 2010.
- "Ghana Base dot Com | The Ghanaian Highlife Music Story". Ghanabase.com. 19 April 2007. Retrieved 6 October 2010.
- "Osibisa Betrayed My Dad - Kiki Gyans Daughter". Peacefmonline.com.
- Teddy Osei. "We "took care of Kiki Gyan even after he left" Osibisa". Myjoyonline.com.
- "Osibisa Founder, Teddy Osei's Last Tribute To Mac Tontoh". Ghanaweb.com. 12 October 2010. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
- "Mac Tontoh – Godfather of Music". Modernghana.com. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
- "The Official OSIBISA Website – Colin Graham profile". Osibisa.com. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
- "Abdul Lasisi Amao | Biography & History | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
- Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 226. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.