Mac Tontoh, together with his saxo-
” phonist brother, Teddy Osei, and
drummer Sol Amarfio, were founding
members of the London-based
‘Isibis3 band, which pioneer cd . froj
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. It
was 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.