“His general contribution to music production in this country speaks volumes for him. The works he produced are in people’s homes and hearts.
He made a solid mark for himself and will always be remembered for the wonderful things he did for Ghanaian music.
Those were the words of singer/saxophonist and composer, Gyedu Blay Ambolley as he eulogised veteran Ghanaian music producer, Dick Essilfie-Bondzie, widely known as Essiebons, who died in Accra on Wednesday, August 19 at the age of 90.
The man first put together a group of session players known in Ghanaian music business parlance as Shabo Shabo for a recording date in 1959.
It was just to satisfy a then 29-year-old’s desire to be linked to popular music production in this country.
He was never able to extricate himself from the grip of music again.
Over time, his Essiebons Music Entertainment Limited produced hits for acts such as Dr K. Gyasi & The Noble Kings, CK Mann, Western Melodic Singers, Gyedu Blay Ambolley, All Brothers, Bob Pinodo, Agyenim Boateng, Apagya Show Band, Naa Awushie, Ebo Taylor, Bonzie Konkoma Band and Paapa Yankson.
Essiebons, in partnership with other notable Ghanaian music producers, also turned out compilation albums that represented the best in highlife. Notable among them were Golden Hits of Ghana –Volumes 1&2.
Essiebons was born on May 1, 1930 at Apam in the Central Region. He moved to Accra with his parents when he was about five-years-old.
Though he showed interest in music early in life, his father was more interested in him getting good education. That resulted in him going to England to qualify as a corporate secretary.
He landed a job with the state-owned Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) on his return in 1959, the same year he started trying his hands at producing artistes.
He went back to England to study management accounting. He got a big boost for his musical ambitions after securing a deal, with the help of his father, with Philips Phonographic Industries in 1969 to jointly set up the Record Manufacturers (Ghana) Limited.
The business comprised a recording studio and pressing plant which attracted business from all over West Africa.
Apagya Show Band
Essiebons formed the trend-setting Apagya Show Band in 1972. Made up of musicians including Ebo Taylor, Bob Pinodo, Naa Awushie and Gyedu Blay Ambolley, the band dressed African and played original music.
That was at a time most bands in this land played other people’s music, referred to as ‘copyright.’
Apagya’s forward-looking stance, however, didn’t pay off as audiences clamoured more for ‘copyright’ music.
The band survived for only a short while, but it recorded an album still loved in Ghana and beyond.
Essiebons said in an interview in early 2019 that his label always looked ahead.
“We projected into the future and that’s why our early recordings still help to sustain us. What we have always said at Essiebons was that some artistes never die because they recorded beautiful stuff,” the veteran producer said in that interview.
Though he found it hard to say which of the numerous albums he produced was his favourite, he confidently stated that CK Mann material were the most consistent sellers on the Essiebons label through the years.
Roots To Fruits film
Essiebons also ventured into film. His ‘Roots To Fruits’ film released in early 1979, with screenplay by Nana Bosomprah, looked at Ghanaian traditional music and its evolution through the years.
The film, directed and edited by Bernard Odjidja with choreography by Nii Yartey, featured some of the key artistes in the Essiebons stable such as CK Mann, Bob Pinodo, Afua Agyapong and Western Melodic Singers.
His passion for music didn’t dim over the years and he released material by Khojo Pinodo, a son of Bob Pinodo, on the Essiebons label in 2018.
Essiebons tried to keep abreast of what went on in music circles but he always found time to watch matches in the English Premier League (EPL). He was an ardent Arsenal supporter and said football was the thing he loved best after music.
Dick Essilfie-Bondzie was survived by six children. May he rest in peace!
Source: Graphic Showbiz
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