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Stardom at an Early age: My Experience With the Late Kiki Gyan of Osibisa Band

In my interaction with him then, he was regretful of attaining STARDOM at an early age. He told me that he spent extravagantly by travelling in private jets, sleeping in expensive hotels, dining in the best of restaurants, driving vintage cars, getting the best of women and all sorts of ‘goodies’.

This is what Kofi Kwarko Gyan popularly referred to as Kiki Gyan, a prolific keyboardist of the Osibisa Group then in the United Kingdom, said before his demise on June 10, 2004.

“If there was a reversal in life, I wouldn’t have led this bad life of Elvis Presley, Redd Fox and Ike Turner in the area of drug addiction like cocaine etc”.

Kiki Gyan was a Ghanaian keyboardist, composer, singer and arranger who joined the Osibisa Band in the United Kingdom in the early 70s.

BBC recently did a rebroadcast interview with the late Kiki Gyan in 2001, he had one with the venerable, Kwaku Sakyi Addo, who was with Joy FM as an anchor on their Newsfile program so I decided to share with you some interaction and works I did with him back then.

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The year 2004 was when I had the opportunity to work on an album with the late Kofi Kwarko Gyan aka KIKI GYAN at the Fredyma Studios 🎙 in Accra.

He had relocated to Ghana because of related drug abuse and other problems which had rendered him incapacitated in his daily life and work. His presence on the piano was phenomenal as well as his compositions and arrangement skills.

He was mostly rejected wherever he went because of his addiction to cocaine. He did petty pilfering in order to sustain his constant visits to the “ghettos” to quench his appetite for those hard drugs which calmed his nerves. He told me that he was diagnosed with Tuberculosis which was contagious so some folks hardly accommodated or allowed him into their fold.

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He was housed in a church presided by the late Rev Okoree at the Feden Church opposite Top FM at Kokomlemle in Accra where he had undergone rehabilitation from his cocaine addiction and was also playing keyboards for the church.

One day in the early month of February 2004, I was approached by the then manager of the Maestro, Kojo Antwi, who used to work at the GCB Towers at Circle Accra that he wanted me to produce an album for Kiki Gyan because some studios had refused to work with him due to his pilfering and other activities of his which were detrimental to his image. The title of the album was, “I’ve been a Bad Boy”.

I am not saying this to tarnish his image rather I am sharing this vivid account for the musicians of today to take a cue from the reckless lifestyle he led when he was in his prime. In fact, he gave me permission to share his story when he was no more. Thank God, he shared some in his BBC interview as captured earlier here.

I took him to a clinic in order for his health condition to be examined before proceeding with the recordings to allay any fears of getting infected during our studio sessions. He was declared fit at that time to continue with the recordings.

The production team comprised myself on programming, drums, mix and mastering, Charles Robert Quaye on additional keyboards, drums, bass and mixing, Kiki Gyan on the piano, organ, vocals, and Emma Collins, on the background vocals.

During the recordings, I gave him accommodation at my workplace, bought him new shirts and other body-enhancing accessories, and fed him till it was completed in addition to what the executive producer provided.

He will sit in my Morris Mini Minor car and we will go for a ride. He was fascinated by those cars and told me how he admired them when he relocated to the UK to join the Osibisa group in his youthful days.

In my interaction with him then, he was regretful of attaining STARDOM at an early age. He told me that he spent extravagantly by travelling in private jets, sleeping in expensive hotels, dining in the best of restaurants, driving vintage cars, getting the best of women and all sorts of ‘goodies’. He alleged that some of the group members introduced him to drugs because he was naive.

On June 7, 2004, I had already finished his music recordings, the mastering of the songs and we were ready to gather some creative industry professionals to have a bite on the album only for me to hear of his death on June 10, 2004. What a lost opportunity!

As we ponder on the 20 years of his demise, let’s reflect on stardom and its effect on one’s talent. I have plans to contact his immediate family, to release the album this year.

Good beads don’t rattle.
Fred Kyei Mensah
Pundit
Writer
Sound Engineer

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