Osibisa: Afro-rock

Mac Tontoh, together with his saxophonist brother, Teddy Osei, and drummer Sol Amarfio, were founding members of the London-based Isibis3 band, which pioneered
rock in the early 1970s. The band has had a large number of hits in Europe
and the USA, and has toured all over the world.
Mac Tontoh began his career in th 1950s with the Broadway Dance Band and Teddy Osei ‘s highlife band, The Comets. After Teddy decided to go to London in 1962, Mac joined the Uhuru (Swahili for Freedom) highlife big band. In 1969 Mac joined Teddy’s London-based group, Cat’s Paw. Itwas out of this group that Osibisa was created in 1969. The name is derived from the old Fanti name for highlife – osibisaaba. Osibisa released its first single record in 1970 – ‘Music for Gong-Gong’, followed by a string of hit singles and albums like’ Osibisa’, ‘Heads’, ‘Happy Children’, ‘Welcome’, and ‘Black Magic Night’. Many of Osibisa’s singles such as ‘Sunshine Day’, ‘Dance the Body Music’ and ‘The Coffee Song’ made it into the British Top Ten. The band included West Indian, Nigerian and Ghanaian musicians such as Kiki Gyan, Koji Ayivor, Emmanuel Rentzos and Potato.
Besides trumpet for Osibisa, Mac Tontoh also played flugelhorn, traditional percussion and the Lobi xylophone that he learned from musicians who had settled in his village in Ashanti.
In the 1990s Mac Tontoh returned to Ghana, where he became an executive member ofMUSIGA, and in 2001, a Commissioner with the National Commission on Culture. He currently manages and plays trumpetlflugelhorn in a band called Osibisa Kete, which includes a huge battery of local percussion.
They have performed internationally and were featured at a recent Edinburgh Festival. Mac is also carrying out the ‘Mac and His Kids Project’ to teach African music in schools.

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