Fifty years after the band released its debut, Music for the gong gong, Osibisa, one of the most successful band to come from Africa, were this August celebrated when the leader of the band, Teddy Osei, was hosted at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London to recount the success of the band.
Originally the band was made up of Teddy Osei (saxophone, flute, and vocals), Mac Tontoh (trumpet and background vocals), Sol Amarfio (drums and backing vocals), all Ghanaians, from Nigeria came Loughty Lassisi Amao (congas, percussion, and horns) while the Caribbean brought Robert Bailey (keyboards), from Trinidad, Spartacus R (bass), from Grenada, and Wendell Richardson (lead guitar and vocals); making up the name The Beautiful 7 who made songs that made it to the Billboard charts.
Years down the line there were personnel changes. Spartacus R left to be replaced at a point by Jean Mandengue while Amao was replaced by Kofi Ayivor. He was also replaced by Daku Potato but after Daku died Ayivor returned. Richardson left in 1972 but returned in 1975. Bailey was replaced by Kiki Gyan. Richardson was replaced by guitar wizard Kari Bannerman though guitarist Tony Etoria also played with the band at a point in time.
In their active years playing and touring, the band became known for its fusion of Afrobeat, Latin, with Bluesy and R&B rhythms which they described as ‘criss-cross rhythms that explodes with happiness’ and enjoyed tremendous airplay on all continents.
Some of their songs include, Woyaya, Welcome home, Fire, Sunshine day, Music for the gong gong, Ayekoo among others and won gold discs for sales. One of their songs was
With 17 studio albums, six live, five unauthorized albums, 17 compilation albums and many singles, the band achieved such extraordinary success, in terms of hit singles and albums in the UK and US.
In the 70s, they performed alongside the Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd, and were the first African-Caribbean band to pioneer a bestselling fusion style that mixed West African highlife influences with jazz, rock, calypso and unashamed pop.
Five decades after the band is still remembered with nostalgia which occasioned the evening the legendary Teddy Osei where he talked about the life story of the band, their successes in this unique event in London.
Present at the event were band members Kari and Dell with another legend, Roger Dean who designed the band’s album covers. Also present was Robert Corich who has been involved with the band for many years, and Mark Taylor a rock ‘n’ roll journalist.