Ebo Taylor

Ebo Taylor, one of Ghana’s most prolific musicians was born in 1936. He comes from Saltpond near Cape Coast in the Central Region of Ghana, where he still lives. His musical career started in the 1950s when Taylor rose to fame as lead-guitarist and arranger for Stargazers Band and Broadway Dance Band, which were among the most popular Highlife bands of that era. For them he composed ever popular Highlife songs, like “Sika Enibre”, “Owu Na Mewu”, “Odo Ye Wu”, “Ghana Be Ye Yie”, or “Dofo”.

Then known as Deroy Taylor, from 1962-1965 he went to Britain to study at the renowned Eric Guilder School of Music in London. Already an accomplished and revered musician, in London Taylor nurtured a scene of West African musicians and musically inspired upcoming artists, among them a young Fela Kuti. Taylor led the Ghana Black Star Band, with Teddy Osei and Sol Amarfio, later Osibisa, and trumpeter Eddie Quansah, the first one in a series of bands made up of outstanding Ghanaian musicians that Taylor came to lead.

In 1965 he went back to Ghana to join the Uhuru Dance Band, Ghana’s then best known and most famous band. He came to lead the Uhuru Band in the early 1970s on tours around Nigeria and other parts of West Africa. With a new set-up of this band and a reduced number of musicians, Taylor recorded the innovative and outstanding Conflict album for Essiebons Records. With support from the same company, in 1974 he formed and led the most innovative “Afro-Band” in the 70s in Ghana: the Apagya Show Band, for which he wrote and arranged numerous songs, like “Tamfo Nyi Ekyir” and “Kweku Ananse”.

From the later 1970s Ebo Taylor made recordings as solo artist developing his own innovative style and sound, to be heard on his albums Ebo Taylor and the Pelikans and Twer Nyame for Phonogram. At this creative stage he composed his enduring hits “Twer Nyame”, “Heaven”, “Come Along”, and “Love & Death”.
From the mid-70s he had became the musical director and main band arranger for the two ground-breaking Ghanaian record companies, Essiebons und Gapophone. For them Taylor arranged and produced the music of well-known and highly popular singers like C.K. Mann, Pat Thomas, Jewel Ackah and Papa Yankson. He also composed songs for them, and thus made significant contributions to their respective careers.

In the 1980s and ‘90s – harsh times for Ghanaian musicians – Taylor worked as free-lance artist, also temporarily in Cote D’Ivoire. From 2001 he added an academic chapter to his career, and started teaching Highlife and Jazz-guitar at the University of Ghana. This allowed him to research more into local music of the various regions of Ghana, which gradually became a more important inspirational source in Taylor’s compositional approach.

The rediscovery of Taylor’s outstanding composition “Heaven” on Soundway’s Ghana Soundz in 2003, actually the first Soundway release ever, started the process of Taylor’s recognition as a unique artist in European and American music circles and beyond. On the other hand, Heaven was one of the songs that heralded Soundway as the outstanding label it is today. Experimenting in musical sound and instrumentation, in 2009 Taylor released a long-awaited CD with his large Bonze Konkoma band, formed 2007, for Essiebons (Abenkwan Puchaa, Essiebons). The band came on the European scene in 2010 and 2011, and left audiences excited. Subsequently, 2011 saw the release of Taylor’s “Love & Death” (named after his famous song) for the British Strut Records. This album finally made international music world spot Taylor as one of the left-out legends of African music. Two more releases by Strut followed: “Life Stories”, a kind of musical biography and „Best of“ Taylor’s, as well as the Highlife-focussed new production “Appia Kwa Bridge”.

With his compositions, arrangements and also his outstanding guitar style Taylor has shaped Ghanaian music and in particular Highlife substantially. Significantly, he has created his own, remarkable style of African music: a unique synthesis of Highlife, Jazz, und Afrobeat. Probably no other musician still alive has contributed as consistently and significantly to Ghanaian popular music as Taylor.

In 2014, Ebo Taylor was the first musician in Ghana to receive the Kwame Nkrumah African Genius Award. International interest in Taylor paired with recognition of his artistic contributions have steadily risen over the last years.
To mark the climax of his career, at over 80 years of age, Taylor keeps playing electrifying concerts that are memorable events. He is supported by his vibrant, 8 piece band of accomplished musicians of Ghana, a band that massively impressed audiences on their recent concerts in Germany, Holland, and Spain.


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