Coup D’etat Killed Live Band Music – Gyedu-Blay Ambolley

There have been several calls to encourage Ghanaian artistes especially the new generation to perform live with a band.

Though there has been a slight increase in the number of artistes who perform with live band now, a greater number of the new crop of acts seem glued to miming over a record with the aid of a Disc Jockey (DJ) as compared to the 80s.

DJs have virtually dominated the entertainment arena to the extent that live band shows sometimes have DJs on standby.

If ‘live band’ music was the toast of Ghanaian music in the 80s, what must have contributed to its decline?

On Saturday, Joy FM’s entertainment analysis programme, Showbiz A-Z, tried to find out why Ghanaian music has lost its supremacy to Nigerian music.

Legendary highlife musician, Gyedu-Blay Ambolley, explained how Disc Jockeys took over the music scene during former President Jerry John Rawlings’s regime leading to the virtual collapse of live band music.

“When J.J came back for the second time, that is when the curfew became really strong. I think the curfew was on for a little over two years constantly. The musicians travelled outside.

“We worked throughout the night and if by six o’clock we had to be indoors then it means no food on the table. Many of them started travelling to Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Europe,” Gyedu Blay Ambolley revealed.

“That was when the spinners [DJs] came in. When the curfew was lifted, no bands were home…. Ghanaians started loving [Disc Jockeying]. They were playing music that had already been mixed. “The sound was good and strong. The bands started coming back but didn’t have good instruments to be able to sound like the spinners’, he added.

Renowned music producer, Mark Okraku-Mantey, corroborated the views of Gyedu Blay Ambolley.

“Live band was dominating but because of the coup d’état era, most of our good performers were out of Ghana…Gyedu Blay was not in Ghana…Dr. Paa Bobo was in Nigeria. “Nana Kwame Ampadu was in Nigeria for some time. Amakye Dede was in Nigeria,” Mark Okraku-Mantey also revealed.

Clearly, the curfew resulting from the 1981 coup in Ghana staged by Flt. Lieutenant J. J. Rawlings drastically affected musicians in Ghana. The long silence of musicians who performed with Live Band music led to the rapid rise of Disc Jockeying in Ghana.