Music of Wednesday, 19 May 2004
|Kiki Gyan in his hey days with Osibisa group|
During those days, children had no encouragement from their parents to take up music as a profession because it was looked down upon rather they wanted their children to be doctors, pilots, accountants, etc. Kiki however found himself deeply involved in the music profession because of the love he had for it.
He loved playing some musical instruments especially the keyboard since he enjoyed it. Kiki dropped out of secondary school when he was in form three and came to Accra to play music. Here in Accra, he had the chance of joining interesting bands like the Avengers, Blue Monks, Boom Talents and the Pargadija Band.
The Pargadija Band had the chance of travelling to England and that was where Kiki met the Osibisa band. When it was time for the band to return to Ghana, Kiki was the only member to show up at the Kotoka International Airport. The remaining members had vanished in search for greener pastures. The story became news all over the media houses in Ghana.
In 1972, Osibisa visited Ghana for the first time. Kiki paid them regular visits in the hotel they were lodging. One day, a member of Osibisa, Mac Tontoh, the junior brother of Teddy, the founder of the Osibisa called Kiki and told him that he was too good to be in Ghana with his talent.
After Osibisa left for England, Kiki went to the Republic of Benin which was by then called Dahomey. There he played with a group called Santiagos for two months and he managed to make some money to fly to England.
When he got there, the Osibisa band was on a tour in the United States so he didn?t get the opportunity to meet Osibisa. However, Mac Tontoh?s younger brother allowed him to stay in his house till they came back. Luckily for him, Osibisa?s keyboard player, Robert Bailey from Trinidad (Western East) left the group. Mac Tontoh therefore decided to conduct an audition for a new keyboard player.
During the audition, Mac Tontoh realized that Kiki was so good that he could play all their songs so he became their new keyboard player. Because he was so good and could play better than the other guys in the group, the other members started complaining that he was too young to be with them but Mac Tontoh knowing his ability insisted that he should be allowed to play.
Two weeks later they had to go for a tour in the States which was one of Kiki?s terrible tours he will never forget. He said he went through difficulties. As the only young guy in the group, he carried the group?s luggage everywhere that he became exhausted and fell sick. He however forced himself to play during the tour.
The Queen of England invited the band to the Buckingham Palace to play. The Queen was so much impressed that she even didn?t know what to do to herself. There was an All African get together in Nigeria called FESTAC in 1977 and it was here Kiki met stars like Marvin Gay, Peter Tosh, Steve Wonder, the group known as Third World and many more.
Kiki was married to Fela?s first daughter, Yeni Anikulapo but they later divorced due to pressures from a Ghanaian woman to whom he later got married to. He had his only daughter with her who is currently in a university in the States now.
He was rated the 8th keyboardist in the whole world. Apart from Russia and South Africa, Osibisa travelled throughout the whole world. Osibisa is a group made up of Ghanaians, Nigerians and West Indies and has made a mark on planet earth. They have also reached heights that no other group has been able to make till now. ?We could sing to a crowd of about 200,000 people and you would see some going naked, others going crazy and some even die? Kiki said.
Kiki during stated his reason for withdrawing from the group. He said as a keyboard player, he used to write most of the songs but because he was so young, Teddy would rather take the credit and this did not go very well with him since he felt cheated.
One day they left for a live concert at the Royal Festival Hall in UK. The songs they sang over there were going to be recorded as an album which was meant to be a hit. It was there that he (Kiki) requested for an amount of hundred pounds which was a big money in those times but the leaders were unable to provide that for him so he decided to leave the group.
There were some other Ghanaians who felt cheated but could not voice their opinions so when Kiki took his decision, they went along with him. Some of these people are the late Jake Soboa, a Nigerian and Kofi Aryivor. Kiki left for the States and then to Nigeria where he made it big and recorded his solo albums ?24hrs? and ?Rose Mary? which became hits in Nigeria. According to Kiki, he came out during President Shagari of Nigeria?s reign. At that time, the living condition was very good.
He later went back to the States where he associated himself with some bad gangs who introduced him to drug addiction and that was the beginning of his crisis and downfall. In fact he started using the money he had in purchasing hard drugs such as cocaine, heroine, etc.
Kiki said his wife then asked for divorce since he had taken the drugs to be his new wife and neither catered for her nor had any feeling for her. He says he now realises the effects the absence of his wife is having on him.
Kiki spent almost all the money he had on drugs so he decided to come to Ghana for his money from some people who owed him but nobody was willing to pay. He had to use the little money he had on him for drugs and that has been his end till now. He is now at the International Health Care Center at Roman Ridge where he is being catered for by his producer financially.
Kiki?s advice to the youth is that ?Stay away from drugs and focus on whatever you are doing and also have faith in the good Lord.
His last words were ?To my only daughter Vanessa Gyan who is 21 years old and currently schooling at one of the universities in the States, I am sorry about whatever I did. I believe God?s time is the best and don?t forget that blood is thicker than water and to my Dad, Kwasi Gyan and Mum, Awoh Myers who are still alive today, I am sorry for disappointing you all? Kiki lamented.