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Osibisa, performing at BunkFest, Wallingford, 2008
Background information
Also known as O, O-S-I-B-I-S-A, Osi Bisa, Osibisi, Osibissa, オシビサ
Origin London, England
Genres afro-pop, highlife
Years active 1969–present
Labels Bronze, Island, Decca (US), Warner Bros., BGO
Website http://www.osibisa.co.uk/

Osibisa are a British Afro-pop band, founded in London in 1969 by four expatriate African and three Caribbean musicians.[1] Their music is a fusion of African, Caribbean, jazz, funk, rock, Latin, and R&B. Osibisa were one of the first African-heritage bands to become widely popular and linked with the establishment of world music as a marketable genre.


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 "Pete Pete." 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 & lead vocalist); and 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.

Changes in the music industry however (punk and disco primarily) 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 widely anthologized in many CD collections, most of them unauthorized and paying no royalties whatsoever to the band.

In 1996 Osei reformed the band, and many of their past releases began coming out legally on CD. The revitalized band remains active, although Osei has cut back his touring schedule due to the effects of a stroke.

Osibisa had an energetic performance in India, at the November Fest 2010 on 28 November 2010 at the Corporation Kalaiarangam in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.[2]


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.[3][4] Their style influenced many of the emerging African musicians of the time and even now, as 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.

Album covers[edit]

Their first two albums featured artwork (and logo) by famed progressive-rock artist Roger Dean (before he became famous for his artwork), depicting flying elephants which became the symbol for the band. The third album, Heads, features a cover by Mati Klarwein, famed for his covers for Santana (Abraxas) and Miles Davis (Bitches Brew). Osibirock 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. 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 every release.


  • Saxophone — Teddy Osei (1937- )
  • Trumpet — Mac Tontoh (born Kweku Adabanka Tonto, 1940-2010),[5][6] Colin Graham,[7] Kenny Wellington
  • Flute - Abdul Loughty Lasisi Amao ( -1988)[8]
  • Trombone - Abdul Remiola
  • Percussion, congas — Kofi Ayivor, Nii Tagoe, Darko Adams 'Daku' Potato (1932-1995), Dinesh Pandit
  • Drums — Solomon "Sol" Amarfio (1938- ), KB, Frank Tontoh, Remi Kabaka, Robert Fordjour
  • Keyboards — Robert Bailey, Bessa Simons, Kwame Yeboah (1977- ), Chris Jerome, Emmanuel Rentzos, Errol Reid, Kiki Gyan (a.k.a. Kiki Djan, 1957-2004), Jean Rousell
  • Guitars — Kari Bannerman, Gregg Kofi Brown, 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
  • Vocals — Gregg Kofi Brown, Teddy Osei, Emmanuel Rentzos, Wendell Richardson, 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) and 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 called Assagai and a few times by Jean Mandengue and others. Amao left and was replaced by Kofi Ayivor, who was replaced by Potato but returned to the group later. Richardson left in 1972 and returned in 1975 and henceforth "Welcome Home" and "Sunshine Day". Bailey was replaced by Kiki Gyan before "Sunshine Day"′s release. Richardson was replaced a few times by the likes of guitar wizard Kari Bannerman. Black Welsh guitarist Tony Etoria, who had a hit in 1977 with "I Can Prove It", joined on guitar in the early 80s.

Road Crew[edit]

  • Tour manager: Mick Tresnan (a.k.a. Mick Tee)
  • Dennis Dee Mac Johnson
  • John Cleary
  • Don Kingswell
  • Paul Carter
  • Nigel Hudson
  • Graham Wright




Contributing artist


  • 1971 - "Music for Gong Gong"
  • 1972 - "Wango Wango"
  • 1972 - "Ana Bo 1"
  • 1972 - "Move On"
  • 1973 - "Prophets"
  • 1973 - "Happy Children"
  • 1974 - "Adwoa"
  • 1974 - "Who's Got The Paper"
  • 1975 - "The Warrior"
  • 1975 - "Sunshine Day"
  • 1976 - "Black Ant"
  • 1976 - "Dance the Body Music"
  • 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"
  • 1996 - "Sunshine Day (radio edit)"
  • 1997 - "Dance The Body Music"
  • 1999 - "Survival"


  • 1983 - Warrior (VHS) (recorded 5 April 1983 at the Marquee Club, London)
  • 2003 - Osibisa - Live (DVD Plus) (same show as above)



  1. ^ "OSIBISA: FULL ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY". Modern Ghana. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  2. ^ "2006 seminars at Musical Workshop Labyrinth, Crete, Greece". World Music Central.org. 2006-04-04. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  3. ^ "OSIBISA". Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Donaldclarkemusicbox.com. Retrieved 2010-10-06. 
  4. ^ "Ghana Base dot Com | Ghana Music News | The Ghanaian Highlife Music Story | news". Ghanabase.com. 2007-04-19. Retrieved 2010-10-06. 
  5. ^ "Osibisa Founder, Teddy Osei's Last Tribute To Mac Tontoh". www.ghanaweb.com. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  6. ^ "Mac Tontoh - Godfather Of Music". Modern Ghana. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  7. ^ "The Official OSIBISA Website - Colin Graham profile". Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  8. ^ "Abdul Lasisi Amao | Biography & History | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 

External links[edit]