These British pioneers of Afro-fusion and godfathers of world music consistently pack out Hideaway whenever they play here... their live set is a musical adventure and a journey of spirit... ONE NOT TO MISS!
Formed in London by three Ghanaian and three Caribbean musicians in 1969, Osibisa joined jazz, funk, Caribbean, R&B, Latin and African rhythms together to create something that changed the world. This legendary band have made 20 studio albums and played a central role in developing an awareness of African music among European and North American audiences from the 1970s to the current day - with major hits including 'Music for Gong Gong', 'Sunshine Day', 'Dance the Body Music,' 'Coffee Song' and 'Woyaya' and more.
The Ghanaian founder members of Osibisa – Teddy Osel (saxaphone), Sol Amarfio (drums) and Mac Tontah, Teddy’s brother (trumpet) – were seasoned members of the Accra highlife scene before they moved to London to launch their attack on the world stage. Osel and Amarfio had played in the Star Gazers, a top Ghanaian highlife band, before setting up the Comets, who scored a large West African hit with their 1958 single ‘Pete, Pete’.
Tontoh was also a member of the Comets, before joining the Uhuru Dance Band, one of the first outfits to bring elements of jazz into Ghanaian highlife. The other founder-members of Osibisa were Spartacus R, a Grenadian bass player, Robert Bailey (b. Trinidad; keyboards), Wendel Richardson (b. Antigua; lead guitar) and Lasisi Amao (b. Nigeria; percussionist & tenor sax).
Teddy Osei moved to London in 1962 where he was eventually given a scholarship by the Ghanaian government to study music. In 1964, he formed Cat’s Paw, an early blueprint for Osibisa that blended highlife, rock and soul. In 1969, feeling the need for more accomplished African musicians within the line-up, he persuaded Tontoh and Amarfio to join him in London and Osibisa was born.
The venture proved to be an immediate success, with the single ‘Music for Gong Gong’ a substantial hit in the 1970 (three other singles later made the British Top 10: Sunshine Day, Dance the Body Music and Coffee Song). Osibisa’s debut album displayed music whose rock references, especially in the guitar solos, combined with vibrant African cross rhythms. The band’s true power only fully came across on stage, when African village scenarios and a mastery of rhythm and melody summoned up energy and spirit. During the late '70s they spent much of their time on world tours, playing to particularly large audiences in Japan, India, Australia and Africa.
In the mid-80s, the group directed their attention to the state of the music business in Ghana, planning a studio and theatre complex, and to helping in the promotion of younger highlife artists.
A new album of original material - Osee Yee - released in 2009 and a definitive 'Singles Collection' (featuring new artwork from the iconic graphic artist Roger Dean) released late 2015, ensures that the spotlight remains focused on this mighty musical collective.