The African Brothers Band was formed in 1963, and was inaugurated in the same year in Accra, at the PARK CINEMA THEATER at Adabraka. As there is the root to every tree, it is inevitably important to recount the events that led to the formation of the African Brothers Band. There was a young and cute figure of a boy by name Patrick Kwame Ampadu who was always seen with his guitar hanging around his neck on the streets of Accra between the later part of 1961 and the full year of 1962. Ampadu took delight in guitar playing and one day, he met a man who introduced himself as Kwadwo Annan, a musician. Kwadwo Annan took Ampadu to his house at Adabraka, near Kwame Nkrumah Circle. It was there he told Ampadu that he was forming a band and wanted Ampadu to play guitar as a member. This offer, Ampadu obliged readily and so started rehearsal with the group, which was named HOT STARS. It was after a day’s rehearsal that a fairly taller boy with rather a big nose met Ampadu on his way home and engaged him into a dialogue after introducing himself as Eddie Donkor. Eddie Donkor confessed to Ampadu that he had watched him playing his guitar with delight and that, if Ampadu would oblige, his brother-in-law at Nima has got musical instruments and was looking for bandsmen to play. The convincing of Kwasi Donkor was irresistible to Ampadu who accepted the offer.
Meanwhile, Ampadu and his elder brother, Rover Amo Kofi Ampadu had purchased a set of locally made jazz drums set and a pair of congas were contributed by Kofi Amo, Yaw Owusu and Patrick Kwame Ampadu which was added to that of Eddie Donor’s brother-in-law’s instruments to begin the forming of a band. In choosing a name of the band, all members were opted to write a name so that the most resounding could be chosen and registered. One of the Bandsmen, one K. Ofori who was much more older wrote AFRICAN BROTHERS BAND. All unanimously accepted this name after K. Ofori defended it by acknowledging that as the then President of Ghana, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was pivoting the formation of the ORGANIZATION of AFRICAN UNITY “O.A.U” the name African Brothers Band could play a supportive part in Osagyefo’s aspirations as brotherliness and oneness for Africa. So the African Brothers Band was formed and K. Ampadu was chosen the leader, but because of his cute and small figure, K Ofori was asked to act for him temporarily.
Unfortunately or fortunately K. Ofori, a driver by profession then left the group. Ampadu was therefore encouraged to take the full responsibility as the bandleader. This was effected before the inauguration where Nana Nyarko, former bass singer of Yamoah’s band joined the group. He was made the patron/manager of the band and it was through his relentless efforts and great experience that the group had some Kwahu businessmen to sympathize with the group and made the inauguration ceremony a great success. Some of the Kwahu businessmen were Oheneba Nyarko, Opanin Tawia, Opanin Kwabena Wiafe, and Obuoba Yaw Dankwa. These sympathizers contributed and bought an amplify for the group to support it’s efforts. The pioneers of the African Brothers were Rover Amo Kofi Ampadu, Kwasi Donkors (Snr. Eddie Donkor) Patrick Kwame Ampadu a.k.a P.S.K Ampadu a.k.a Paa Steele, Kwame Anim, Yaw Asante and Kwadwo Ofori. Later in 1964, Joe Dee a.k.a Kwabena Appiah and Kofi Oppong Kyekyeku joined the group as a string bass player and a tenor singer respectively. All the members were teenagers at that time and so, nobody dared give them regards as to their potential abilities, because in those days only grown up men were seen and recognized as musicians. The only places the group could be engaged were in the small-spaced beer bars, and Moslem wedding engagements known as “SUNNA” and at times funeral engagements which in most cases they played for free to advertise their presence and capabilities, where they relied on the coins that funeral attendants gave them in appreciation. One unusual but significant thing about this teenagers group was that they mostly played their own compositions at their engagements to the awe and admiration of their audience; and people wondered how this unusual thing could be done, only by such “Small Boys.”
In 1965 and 1966, the group saw the exits of Yaw Asante, Yaw Owusu and Kwame Anim. One Agyeman was welcomed as a drummer. He was however a grown up person in his early thirties. This was after the band had recorded its maiden 45 R.P.M singles on the 14th day of November 1966 at the Ghana Film Industries Corporation in Accra under the label of Phillips West Africa Ltd. Publishers of Music. Two songs were recorded on that day: AGYANKA DABERE and SUMINASO NTONKO. After the release of this 45 R.P.M hit, the African Brothers Band became the sensation of the time. People were yearning to see those musicians, thinking they were adults like the age group of EK’S, KAKAIKU’S, ONYINA’S, K GYASI’S bands. Producers and publishers craved to sign them on but Ampadu wanted to remain with Phillips West Africa Ltd.
Before Ampadu could be given the recognition to record his debut songs, one dance band musician, JERRY HANSEN, founder and leader of the RAMBLERS DANCE BAND played a mediating and instrumental role. Ampadu had cultivated the acquaintance with Jerry Hansen when he (Ampadu) was working with the United Ghana Farmers Council Corporation in 1964 and had released eight (8) of his composition to the Ramblers Band for free between 1964 and 1966. There is the adage that one
good turn deserves another.
So Jerry Hansen introduced young Ampadu to one JOE EYISON, a veteran composer and also the technical producer of Phillips West Africa Ltd. as a prolific gifted composer. Joe Eyison and the Phillips West Africa representative, one MR. BRIGGS, a Nigerian, auditioned Ampadu and his group at the HARLEM CAFÉ at Nima. Two of the numerous songs they played were selected for the recordings. In 1967, Phillips West Africa recorded six songs with the African Brothers Band. Because the company was convinced that the Band was potentially good for recordings as their maiden recording caught on well with the public. In the same year, the director of the Ambassador records Manufacturing Company, Mr. A.K. BADU contracted with the group and recorded eight (8) songs with them. In the same year when the band was based in Kumasi, the G.F.I.C also contracted the group to record sixteen (16) songs. All these while Ampadu did not take delight in entering into any perpetual contract with any company or individual. The African Brothers had the songs and were ready to record for any company or individual who was interested. It was in 1967 that the band gained accelerating popularity as they had released some sensational catchy songs like OKWADUO, EBI TE YIE, NKRAN ABRABO, KAE WO WUDAMU, and MANOMAA NUA etc.
Producers tried to entice the group with set of musical instruments and the luckiest of them all was D.K. NYARKO, of OBUABA LABELS who later opened more labels, HAPPY BIRD, ADWANA and D.K.N.
In Kumasi, the group stayed at the Ambassador Gardens at Asem, Amakom where the owner willingly gave 4 rooms free of charge to the group to stay.
The only deal he had with the group was that, they played at the hotel every other forth night on a Saturday. It was a very God sent and flexible deal indeed.
The groups sojourn in Kumasi ended in 1967. In 1968, D.K. Nyarko secured a flat for the Band at Kokomlemle, near the king’s college and also bought some instruments to beef up what the group was using.
From 1968, the African Brothers became the “BEETLES” of Ghana. They were so popular that people formed cues to buy their records at the shops. At concert theaters and dance halls too, the crowd was so thick that confusion broke many times to disrupt performances.
Between 1968 and 1970 Ampadu had recorded not less than thirty (30) 45 R.P.M singles, a fact that was not
equaled by any band at that time.
Some of the charts topping tracks in those days were: ANKOMA BOAFO, OFIE NWANSENA, OWUO YI, YEBEWU NTI YENNA, ID WO KUNU NI, SEANTIE, MMARA NSEM DU, MENE WO NNANTE BIO, EMELIA, OTUMFUO OSEI AGYEMAN PREMPEH ABUSUA NNYE ASAFO, SEFA WO SUBAN, ANIBUE ABA.
The African Brothers broke the myth that was surrounding the duration of recordings, which was pegged between 2:50mins. and 2:55mins. and recorded it’s 1st five (5) minutes plus songs; MENE WO NNANTE BIO in 1969. The band also introduced what was not known before as PART 1, and PART 2 with a song, EBI TE YIE in 1967.
In 1968, the Band attached a drama troupe to the band proper, and started touring the who country where they were mobbed everywhere. In 1970, the group had the privilege to tour Great Britain under the sponsorship of the Ghanaian Citizens Community Association of Great Britain of which AKOSUA AMPADU, who was incidentally the sister of P.S.K Ampadu and Rover Amo.
Akosua Ampadu was delegated to come down to arrange with the band in Accra in February 1970. It was during this maiden tour that the group recorded its debut LP album at PYE STUDIOS in London. A total of ten (10) tracks were recorded on this maiden album (LP). Some of the tracks being remixed ones. The tour itself was a success as patronage was very high. The group stayed at Collingham Gardens, a house Dr. Nkrumah purchased for use as a hostel for Ghanaian tourist, students, musicians, etc. The group became more popular after this tour, in that, in those times, it wasn’t common
at all for a group to travel abroad for performances of that nature. The group’s numbers of songs increase as almost in every two (2) months recording were done.
Between 1970 and 1973 before the group toured Great Britain for the second time, more than 150 songs had been recorded. Some of which were; KOFI NKRABEA, AWARE BONE, EYE A NA ME MU, KWAME MENSAH, ADWOA, YAA YAA, OKUN PA, AKU SIKA, GYAE SU, AKWANTUOMU NSEM, EBI ADI KAN, ME NYA NKWA A EFIRI WO, YAW BERKO, SOMU GYE WAKRANTEE, ONIPA NSE HWEE and many more.
In 1973 the band recorded 3 LP albums: YAA AMANUA, YAA AMPONSAH and ODO PAA. The group returned to introduce TINAWELE dance, and then introduced also the AFROHILI beat where such songs like YAW ASANTE, ANKWANOMA, MEYE AGYANKA, ESTHER, ODO DESEEFO, YEN BA PA KWADWO were recorded with the beat. During these years, the African Brothers topped the music charts because every track they released counted among the top hits, and even their songs competed themselves on the charts. Songs like OBIBA BROKE, YAW BERKO, KOFI NKRABEA, MAAME ADWOA and SOMU GYE WAKRANTEE competed themselves in the eyes of the public. Also, the story lines like, AKU SIKA, NKRABEA, OKUNPA, SIKA ANIBERE, YEEWE NSA, ARTICLE 204 and ANOMAA A WOKO YI also did compete with themselves. The sensational songs at that time were: SENSAM, OKUNPA, AKU SIKA BRIBI BETUMI YEN.
And in 1976, the group was hired to tour the United States of America and Canada. The first Black African Band to tour Canada was the African Brothers Band Int.
The group recorded two LP albums in the U.S at New York City down town. This tour which included LORD BOB COLE was resoundingly successful in terms of performance, audience patronage and promoters arrangements. Some of the sensational tracks in the U.S recording were YEKA MENU A BROFO BAAKO, EMMAA BEKU MMARIMA and AMMA AMMA.
Some of the regular members of the band broke away to form their own groups between 1972 and 1976, but it did not tell on the group because Nana Ampadu always had the foresight and anticipated such moves so he enrolled new musician into this musical institution.
The first to break away was SAM DERCHIE, who left to lead the SAINTS BANDS in 1971-72. Then after the groups second tour of Great Britain in 1973, TEACHER BOATENG and S.K OFORI left to form the OGYA TANAA and later AFRICANA which was led by Teacher Boateng whiles S.K Ofori led the Ogya Tanaa Band. In 1975 EDDIE DONKOR, serving for nine (9) broke away to form the ASIKO INTERNATIONALS.
LAWYER BOATENG, OPPONG KYEKYEKU and P.K ASARE all broke away and finally settled with the AFRICANA after Oppong Kyekyeku failed to lead the YOUNG AFRICANS into stardom. JOE DEE went on solo and spread his wings to London. He came back to form his own group having left the band in late 1974. APENTEN also left the group to lead the TATA BREWERY BAND as a guitarist. ANTHONY SCORPION too broke away to form the BEACH SCORPIONS.
Other prominent musicians who one time passed the corridors of the African Brothers Band were: OSEI VASCO, who led the ASHANTI BROTHERS after the UNITY STARS CONCERT GROUP, which was staging for the African Brothers Band broke away in 1992. Then KOFI SAMMY and WATERPROOF also came into the scene and were staging for the band with their OKUKUSEKU CONCERT PARTY. S.K OPPONG and his group also staged for the band and it was through AKU SIKA, a concert play they staged on G.T.V that paved the way for the formation of OSOFO DADZIE. OSOFO DAAZIE, SUPER O.D, KWADWO KWAKYE and FRED ADDAI. All were with S.K Oppong at that time.
Captain Newman was also schooled in the African Brothers Institution from 1969 to 1972. The first concert party group that staged for the African Brothers Band was the, LUCKY DIAMONDS led by Kwabena Nyarko of City Boys fame. Smart Nkansah was one time a guitarist with the African Brothers Concert Party between 1982 and 1994. The following “students” passed out on their own. PRINCE OSEI KOFI, KWAME SETH, PATRICK ATOMU. YAW AMOAKO a.k.a NANABA AMOAKO left the group in 1976 to form his own band and also Kwaku Poku left in 1991 to seek greener pastures in the Netherlands. ALEX OBENG of Maryland U.S.A also exited as early as 1977. So to sum up, the following musicians were those who broke away from the African Brothers Band to form their own group or least came out with recordings
SNR. EDDIE DONKOR
PRINCE OSEI KOFI
PAA ALEX OBENG
The longest serving member was KWABENA OSAE affectionately called AGYA OSAE. He served the Band between 1972 and 1994 and rose to the status of assistant bandleader after three (3) years of his employment.
The most hard working and dedicated bandsmen were, KWAME OFFEI, PRINCE OSEI KOFI, KOO BAAH, AGYA OSAE and RAY SAM starting from 1971 to 1994. These names do not include the pioneers.
From 1973, the group was internationally matured so the name “INTERNATIONAL” was added to the African Brother Band thus sounding it “AFRICAN BROTHERS BAND INT.” The African Brothers Band was the 1st band to record the longest single track, YAA AMANUA (16 mins: 30sec.), and also the longest medley album YEEWE NSA (49 mins: 12 sec.) in 1973.
From 1972 to 1994 the African Brothers won many awards including LEGON HALL AWARD in 1981, REX IMAGE AWARDS, ECRAG AWARDS, ACRAG AWARD, NATIONAL COMMISSION on CULTURE AWARD.
The greatest national award was the one conferred on the leader P.SK. Ampadu as “NNWONTOFOHENE NANA KWAME AMPADU 1” in 1973, February 10th and the Grand Medal of the Volta Civil Division Award in 1997 on Ghana’s 40th Independence anniversary by the President, his excellency Flt. JJ Rawlings.
From 1977 to 1983, the band never traveled abroad till 1984, 1990 and 1991 where they traveled to Europe, including Great Britain, France, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium. In 1984 Third Eye Film CO. made a short film about them for Channel 4 TV of London. There were also video films on them during tours of Canada/U.S.A, France and Germany in 1987 and 1990 respectively. Talking about recordings, the African Brothers Band never yielded and continued to release LP albums and collected to their archives 67 long Play albums and extended play 45 R.P.M’s, 6 and uncountable 45 R.P.M singles. The statistics begins from 1966 to 1994 when the band was partly defunct and only did few recordings at a time.
AFRICAN BROTHERS DRAMA TROUPE
The African Brothers Band formed their own drama troupe where some of the main members (Music Section) took part in acting. Popular among the actors, comedians, and actresses were:
“BOB 77” ARMAA
“JUDAS” ABUSUA PANIN
NANA KWAME AMPADU who is currently a film scriptwriter wrote all plays staged by the African Brothers Drama troupe. Some of the popular plays the African Brothers Drama troupe staged were:
DES ONYAME AHYIRA NO
AWAREGYAE BI YE MMUSUO
KOFI ASANTE-NTWATOSO 1
ONYAME NKOAA NE HENE
The African Brothers band was the first to commercialize stage play onto audiocassette in 1988 and sold over 200,000 copies by the year 2001. “Ntwatoso” pt. 1&2, followed by “DeS Onyame Ahyira No” and Awaregyae Bi Ye Mmusuo”
In 1976, the leader met a songstress who expressed her interest to sing with the African Brothers Band. She was engaged and sang about 16 songs under the African Brothers name. This lady rose to fame between 1977 and 1980 when she had been married to the leader, Nana Kwame Ampadu. Nana Ampadu 1 however composed all her songs. Some of her popular songs were:
EHURU A EBEDWO
YI ME FIRI MU
MEKAE ME NYAME
GYE YENN YAA WO
The African Brothers Band has some English songs to their repertoire. The first English songs were recorded in 1967 of these tittles AUNTIE ESI and HALELUIA. Other English songs that followed includes: “DON’T FORGET”, “KATAKUMBE”, “I’WILL PRAY”, “VIRTUE”, “STRANGERS”, “NONE BUT YOU”, “DON’T PRETEND YOU KNOW ME NOT” and many more. Some of these English songs were back by Mum Bii, the first female lead vocalist of the band.
MISS AFRICAN BROTHERS BAND
Since 1969, the African Brothers Band organized a yearly “MISS AFRICAN BROTHERS BAND INT” which was very highly patronized. The criteria for the competition was not so stringent but was limited to females who were not above 25 years only. Any contestant who won was crowned Miss African Brothers Band for that year won cash prize and records of the band, and also privileged to attend any of the band commercials or private functions free of charge. The 1st and 2nd runner-ups were also given befitting prizes.
The contestants prepared themselves well, especially with hairdo; make-ups and dresses where some were proudly sponsored by designers. The competition was carried on for 9 years from 1969-1978.
The African Brothers, unlike their other counterparts did not suffer deaths. The one and only death of a member was in the person of YAW MENSAH, affectionately called MAJOR MENSAH, which occurred in 1981. Major Mensah hailed from Agona Bobikumah. However, other members who died after breaking away were Oppong Kyekyeku, Lawyer Boateng, Koo Baah, Aboagye Sogya, Snr. Eddie Donkor and Slim Donkor.
In every life there are difficult and regrettable situations, failures and setbacks. The most regrettable setbacks the band encountered or experienced were in 1965 at ASIEDU BAR at Zongo-Junction in Accra when and where the band played to an audience of a single couple who paid to attend the dance. On that day, members had to walk from Asiedu Bar to Asylum Down where they reside. The second stage or performance disaster was in 1980, when the band toured NIGERIA and at one venue played to a crowd of three (3) people that occurred on December 24th where the band would have played to an audience of about 2,000 in Accra. The humiliating setback was attributed to the shabby and poor arrangements the promoter carried.
SENSATIONAL SONGS CHART
EBI TE TIE
SOMU GYE WAKRANTE
GYAMA WO FERE
NEA MOYE YI MAHU
OBIARA BA NNYE
OMAN BO ADWO
PHILOSOPHIC THOUGHT PROVOKING SONGS
YEN BA PA KWADWO
MENE WO NNANTE BIO
OPANIN A OWO FIE
EMMAA YI DOOSO
ASIANE BI YE NKRABEA(NKRABEA)
AGYA KYEE M’ADE
SOMU GYE WAKRANTEE
AMONG THE 1ST 20 TOP SONGS
OMAN BO ADWO
OBIARA BA NNYE
EBI TE YIE
ODO ME NSEE
SOMU GYE WAKRANTEE
TEN EVERGREEN POPULAR SONGS
AKU SIKA pt.1 & pt.2
OMAN BO ADWO
A’SE YE DO WO
LEADING SONGS FOR FUNERALS
ADE AYE ME
MA ME NSU MMA WO
YEN MPANIN ASA
OWUO AYE ME BI
HAPPY MOMENTS POPULAR HITS
ODO ME NSEE
MENTUMI NGYAA WO
YI ME FIRI MU
MENE WO BETENA
GOSPEL ORIENTED SONGS
ME NYAME WOPE NYE HO
ADOM WO WIM
I WILL PRAY
ONYAME NKOAA NE HENE
ME NYAME MESU FRE WO