View Full Version : Mac Tontoh Of Osibisa Is Dead

The Informer
18th August 2010, 04:42 PM
Peacefmonline can confirm that Mac Tontoh, a founding member of Ghanaian International music group, Osibisa is dead.

Joe Tontoh, a younger brother of the deceased who confirmed the death to peacefmonline.com a short while ago, said Mac passed away at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital this morning.He was said to be suffering from stroke.

Mac Tontoh, one of the great pioneers of the fusion of African and western music, was born in Kumasi, capital of the Ashanti region of Ghana. From an early age he tuned into jazz broadcasts on VOA and the BBC World Service, and as his father played trumpet in the local church, Mac was lucky enough to receive encouragement from his parents to pursue a career in music.

Mac’s first band, known as ”The Comets”, was based in Kumasi and led by his elder brother Teddy Osei (who he later collaborated with in Osibisa). The Comets cut their teeth playing in Kumasi clubs such as The Jamboree, Kismet and Hotel de Kingsway. They became very popular in Ghana and Nigeria during the early 1960s for highlife and jazz, and Mac soon emerged as one of the leading and most progressive Ghanaian hornsmen, fusing the modern jazz styles of trumpeters such as Miles Davis and Clifford Brown with West African highlife.

Following his move to Accra, Mac spent a brief period with the Brigade Band of Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah, which played mainly at state functions, before joining the now ledgendary Uhuru Band. Uhuru was a big band which played its own brand of highlife as well as hits from American composers such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Glenn Miller. During his time with Uhuru Mac also ran a smaller jazz combo, the Bogart Sounds Sextet, made up of the pick of Uhuru’s sidesmen.

Mac left Ghana for Europe in 1968. At first he stayed in Hamburg, Germany, playing in various jazz clubs in the St. Pauli area. Then, after a rendezvous with brother Teddy and drummer Sol Amarfio in Tunisia, the trio traveled to London to form the band which was to set the world alight with its ground-breaking fusion of African music and western pop and rock: OSIBISA. Mac co-wrote all of Osibisa’s major hits, including Music for Gong Gong, Welcome Home and Sunshine Day, as well as the soundtrack for Sig Shore’s 1973 movie Superfly TNT. Apart from his activities with Osibisa Mac also became part of the London ”scene” of the 1970s, playing horn sessions for rock luminaries the Rolling Stones, Peter Green and Elton John.

After more than twenty years of living in London or on the road, Mac decided that it was time to return to his African roots for fresh inspiration. In 1992 he moved back home to Ghana and, with the help of producer/engineer Mike Swai, set up his own recording studio in Accra. Mac and Mike then set about searching for and collaborating with some of the most dynamic and talented young Ghanaian musicians.

The first product of this new phase was Mac’s first solo album, Rhythms and Sounds (1994), which featured a jazz-tinged contemporary take on some classic Ghanaian highlife styles together with some hard-hitting African funk whose energy and punch recalled Mac’s early days with Osibisa. Rhythms and Sounds re-established Mac as a musical force to be reckoned with in Ghana, and several tracks from the album have become national institutions through their frequent use by GBCTV.

Following the release and successful promotion of this first solo album, Mac decided to look deeper into the musical traditions of his own people, the Ashanti. He decided to form a new band, and went to his home town, Kumasi, to look for drummers and singers who were well versed in the Kete and Adowa styles of the region.

Mac toured the UK with the Kete Warriors in 2000 and 2001 to a rapturous reception from British audiences. Since returning to Ghana after the group’s successful run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2001, Mac took a break from making music and was concentrating on his work with the Ghana National Commission on Culture, until his untimely death. The Kete Warriors are now forging ahead in their own right with the blessing of their now deceased master.

Source: Peacefmonline.com/Ghana

Pope Bitterz D'Alomo
18th August 2010, 05:05 PM
That is an icon right there. A pioneer of Afro pop. May He Rest In Heavenly Peace.

18th August 2010, 06:01 PM
May his soul rest in perfect peace and condolences to the family......I love that Osibisa song......"awful lot of coffee in Brazil"

18th August 2010, 06:51 PM
Sad news. I like their signature song for Osofo Dadzie Woyawoya"we are going"


we are going, heaven knows where we are going....

18th August 2010, 06:56 PM
Osibisa LIVE !

Osibisa Throwback from' 74


Mac on Trumpet

Pope Bitterz D'Alomo
24th August 2010, 10:42 PM
http://www.graphic.com.gh/UserFiles/Image/news_large/Mac_Tonto_2010_Aug_19.jpgShirtless, covered in sweat, energetically urging audiences to join in the music and playing high-pitched trumpet solos that sometimes ended with prolonged kisses on the instrument’s mouthpiece.

Mac Tontoh was a huge bundle of energy on stage but he quietly kissed goodbye to this world at the Korle Teaching Hospital in Accra last Monday, August 17 after battling with sickness for about one year that made it impossible for him to do what he loved most: playing music.

His life was made up of 69 years, a great deal of which was spent travelling the world and making people happy with the ground-breaking Osibisa band and later with his own Osibisa Kete group which he formed after coming back to settle in Ghana at No. 2 Osibisa Close, West Airport in Accra.

Many who knew him well fell silent with grief when they heard of his death but they are likely to always remember those stiffened, bulging cheeks as he hammered away on the trumpet and flugelhorn and doubled on kabasa and xylophones on Osibisa classics like Sunshine Day, Welcome Home, The Warrior and Dance the Body Music.

The Kumasi boy who loved the music of great jazz trumpeters like Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan, Miles Davis and Don Cherry while growing up as Kweku Bronya (he was born on December, 25 1940) himself became an icon for some of the younger players he nurtured in his home which was for several years an open house for young folks eager to learn to play an instrument or improve on their skills.

After big brother Teddy Osei left for London in 1962 and other colleagues departed for Accra in search of greener pastures, Mac always remembered that it was his late mother who urged him on to also go to Accra and display the trumpet skills he had learnt and honed with the Kumasi-based Comets band which included Teddy.

In Accra he played with one of the Brigade bands and Uhuru before travelling to Hamburg in Germany in 1968, with the hope of moving on to join Teddy in London. Mac once explained how he got to London and how Osibisa came about.

“It was in 1969 and I had a call from Teddy that his Cat’s Paw band was going to Tunisia to do holiday gigs. So I flew there from Hamburg and met them and we started playing in a hotel. I had not seen Teddy for seven years so it was a happy re-union.

“Our guitarist then was Ebo Ansah. The bassist was a West Indian called Bubbles and the pianist was a Ghanaian called Tony. Teddy was on sax and Sol Amarfio played drums. I joined in on trumpet and we played mostly cover versions of popular songs.

“The other guys left when we went back to London, leaving Teddy, Sol and l to start something new. That new thing was Osibisa.”

After signing a deal with MCA Records, Osibisa took the world by storm with their exciting fusion of African music and Western pop and rock. The band rode high in the 1970s and 1980s in the charts of Europe, United States, Japan, India, Australia and other places.

In 1992, after being based in London for over two decades, Mac decided to move back home to Ghana in search of new inspiration. He set up his own studio in his home where he did most of the work on two albums he recorded under his name with a collection of local musicians he called The African Machine.

The albums were Rhythms & Sounds and Rhythms, Sounds & Jazz.

He later moved on to the Osibisa Kete project which was an outcome of his constant search for new musical experiences.

Mac was always passionate about traditional African music and saw the Osibisa Kete, which he later called the Kete Warriors, as a crusade to take his trademark of African rhythms fused with jazz and rock to new frontiers.

The Kete Warriors toured the United Kingdom in 1999 and 2001 and played at the famous Edinburgh arts festival in Scotland.

Apart from playing actively here, Mac decided to devote some attention to serving the music and cultural community.

He became a member of the National Commission on Culture and was also for a while the chairman of the Greater Accra branch of the Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA).

He later has his differences with the general leadership of the union but he stayed commited to musicians getting due recognition and remuneration for their work.

In 2002 when the then new 20,000 cedi note came out bearing an image of the late music teacher and musicologist, Dr Ephraim Amu, Mac issued a press statement commending the government for having Amu’s image on the note.

He said he saw the action as acknowledgement of the contribution of musicians and other creative persons to overall national development in this country.

He cared deeply about young musicians making progress in their chosen careers and the great British sax player, Courtney Pine, credits Mac for stimulating his interest in music as a teenager and introducing him to the rudiments of the business.

He took a special interest in children growing to appreciate music and was always ready to play with children or encourage them to learn music.

He was the main pillar behind the youthful Warriors band that participated in the first edition of the Bands Alive contest on TV3. He produced a single for the group and sometimes appeared at live shows with them.

Perhaps the best example of Mac’s effort to groom young talents is his son Frank, a world-class drummer and music director.

Frank has worked with big-time acts like George Michael, Craig David and Amy Winehouse and praises his father for inspiring him to such high level in music.

Apart from Frank, Mac has a daughter called Lily who lives in the United States.

Something else Mac loved to high heavens apart from music, was solving crossword puzzles and he had many books on it. He once said that though he started doing crosswords in Ghana, he got hooked to it in London.

“We travelled a lot and I always did two things on the plane: reading detective novels and doing crosswords. Let’s say we are going to Australia . I would be doing crosswords all the way.

I don’t talk to the rest of the band at all. Maybe I play a bit of cards with them then I turn to my crosswords till we get to where we are going.
“Sometimes after a big show which had gone down well and all the guys want to go to a night club, I just enter my room, shower and just do crosswords.”

There were several things Mac wanted to do but they are all not possible. He used to talk a lot about doing a concert to be called ‘Sketches of Mac Tontoh’ where he would play with different bands to illustrate the various types of music he had imbibed over the years.

He also had it in mind to do Afro-rock versions of some of Prof Kobena Nketia’s compositions for piano and flute.

Moreover, he, Teddy Osei , Sol Amarfio and other original members of Osibisa were looking forward to a last big romp of the band on another world tour. That, obviously, cannot be.

With Mac’s demise, he joins other former Osibisa members who have now passed on. They are keyboardist Kiki Gyan, percussionist Darku Potato, guitarist Paul Golly and saxist/percussionist, Loughty Lasisi Amao.

Mac’s trumpet and flugelhorn are muted forever and the world of music is the big loser.

25th August 2010, 01:40 AM
May his soul rest in peace.
This is my favourite.

25th August 2010, 11:25 PM
http://photos.peacefmonline.com/photos/news/201008/127027122_417653.jpgThe soul of the late Trumpeter and leading member of world renowned Afro-pop group Osibisa, Mac Tontoh, will be very disappointed wherever he is, at young musicians in the country, especially the hiplife artistes, for failing to attend the One Week celebration of the legendary Osibisa member, which took place at his residence at Dworwulu in Accra, on Monday August 23, 2010.

Family members, colleague old musicians, friends and well-wishers gathered, with everyone dressed in black, to celebrate One week of Mac Tontoh’s departure from the land of the living to the land of the unknown but interestingly not a single hiplife artiste was there to help mourn their senior colleague.

Though Mac Tontoh spent a couple of his last years on earth to mentor young up-and-coming musicians to take the mantle from people like him who have lived all their life promoting authentic Ghanaian rhythms and African music to the world, this obviously could not be a good enough reason to attract the young folks to at least sympathize with his family. Before his death Mac was also a resident judge on TV3’s live band reality show “Bands Alive”.

The well attended one week celebration was graced by countless familiar old musical faces with likes of Obuoba J.A. Adofo, President of MUSIGA Diana Hopeson, K.K. Yeboah, Jewel Arckah, Bessa Simons, Ben Brako, Pat Thomas, Paapa Yankson, Thomas Frimpong, Amakye Dede, Ebow Taylor and ‘Afia Donkor’ singer Kofi B.

Minister of Agriculture Mr. Kwasi Ahwoi and radio presenter Kofi Okyere Darko of Radio Gold, Mr. Nyantekyi and George Bosompim both of TV3 and actor Kojo Dadson, were there as well.

The family announced the date for Mac Tontoh’s final funeral rites. The funeral has been scheduled to take place at Mac’s hometown Kyerapatre in the Ashanti region on Saturday October 2, 2010, where the remains of the OSIBISA legend will be laid in state for sympathizers to bid their final farewell.

Speaking to peacefmonline.com, Mac Tontoh junior brother Joe Tontoh disclosed that the family is making arrange to organize a tribute ceremony in Accra on September 30 prior to the main burial in their hometown to give those who cannot travel to the Ashanti region, to have an opportunity to pay their last respect.

Veteran musicians Obuoba J.A. Adofo and Ben Brako at the One-Week celebration
Mac Tontoh, a leading member of the world acclaimed UK- based Ghanaian afro-pop group, ‘Osibisa’, was pronounced dead in the early hours of Monday August 16, 2010 at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Accra, after a long struggle with a number of illnesses over some months now.

Before his untimely death, Mac Tontoh, who will be 70 in December this year, was flown to London for treatment, last year, during the early stages of a stroke attack which took him through four different operations.

He returned home two months ago after his health condition improved, but he was admitted at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital’s intensive unit, few days after his return, where he met his untimely death.

Source: Eugene Osafo-Nkansah/Peacefmonline.com/Ghana