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Afro-rock band, Osibisa, action again 7/11/2008
Staunch fans of legendary Afro-rock band, Osibisa, who have longed for years to see the original set in action again could have their wish fulfilled in the near future.

A former manager of the band, the Zimbabwe-born Alistair Abrahams, is the brain behind the re-union and he met five of the original seven members in London last week to discuss the possibility of a recording and a tour next year.

Trumpeter Mac Tontoh, who returned to Accra over the weekend after a two-week trip to London, told Showbiz that he was at the meeting held in Abrahams’ home at Kilburn in North London. Also present were Spartacus R, Bailey, Richardson and Teddy Osei.

“Sol was in Accra but we called and talked to him about the discussions. He was supportive of the re-union idea and said he would go with any decisions taken at the meeting.”

Started in London in 1969, the original Osibisa set comprised Teddy Osei (from Ghana): tenor sax, flute, percussion and vocals, Sol Amarfio (from Ghana): drums, Mac Tontoh (from Ghana): trumpet, flugel horn and Kabasa, Spartacus R (from Grenada) and bass guitar and assorted percussion, Wendell Richardson (from Antigua).

Others were, lead guitar and vocals, Robert Bailey (from Trinidad): organ, piano and timbales and Loughty Lasisi Amao (from Nigeria): tenor sax, baritone sax and conga. Loughty died in 1988 in the United States after being shot by a neighbour during a quarrel.

The Afro-rock band delighted the world with its sizzling fusion rhythms and was at its peak in the 1970s. The founding members see themselves as the godfathers of world music.

Apart from the phenomenal Osibisa debut album that came out in 1971, the band released several other great collections of songs including Woyaya, Heads, Best of, Superfly TNT, Happy Children, Osibirock, Wecome Home and Ojah Awake.

There were differences between the musicians despite the excitement and smiling faces displayed alongside the infectious music on stage. Spartacus R was the first to quit after the release of the Heads album in September 1972.

He is the only non-Ghanaian in the starting line-up who has never been to Ghana. According to Tontoh, he is anxious for the re-union to get underway because the band is planning to record part of the envisaged album in Ghana and also include Ghana on the tour.

“Spartacus was looking really good. I had seen him only once since he left Osibisa in 1972. He knows some people in Ghana still remember his style of walking up and down the stage with his bass and cannot wait to get here. We had a long, frank chat and decided this is the time to do something because we are not young men anymore.”

The ace trumpeter said they agreed that they would like to tour in Africa, Europe and America to promote the proposed album. “Abrahams is a big-time manager and has handled artistes like Betty Wright and Gil Scott-Heron. He has the right connections and is determined to make the re-union a reality.”

Ardent music lovers in many parts of the world are craving for their heroes from the past. British Hard rock group, Led Zeppelin, came together for a successful concert in December last year after being apart for almost 30 years and the famous Rolling Stones still play from time to time. There is a general notion that the current harsh economic situation around the globe is what is making people take some solace in the ‘good old days.’

“Times are rough almost everywhere and everybody is tripping back to what happened years ago,” said Tontoh. “Osibisa films are still shown on television as the people who brought about a revolution in black music in Britain. We would definitely love to be in the studio once again and hit the road for the very last time.”

Baaba Daniels, a medical reseacher in her late 40s, told Showbiz she has been a fan of the band since the mid-1970s when she was in secondary school in Cape Coast.

“A new recording from the original set is welcome but I think they must work on it with some of the great African artistes that have come after them. A well-produced Osibisa album featuring Femi Kuti or Richard Bona or Salif Keita or Angelique Kidjo would be an instant best-seller around the world. I would love to hear a thing like that.”

Osibisa has been through several incarnations over the years but Teddy Osei, Mac Tontoh and Sol Amarfio have always been there. The band played in Ghana for the first time in December 1972 and was last here in December 2006.

“Next year will be forty years since the band started and we want to bow out finally with a big, big bang,” Tontoh said.
Source:Graphic Showbiz

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