Legendary Dr K. Gyasi Remembered

306815037_92843“Sikyi was already there as a folk music and dance style that relied mainly on indigenous instruments but Dr K Gyasi infused guitars, horns and keyboards that gave a fresh lease of life to the old rhythm and he would be remembered forever for that development.”

That is what bass guitarist Ralph Karikari says about his great mentor, guitarist and composer, Dr K. Gyasi, who died on December 21 last year at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Kumasi.

He was 90 and will be buried at Ankaase Mami Royal Cemetery in the Ashanti Region on Thursday, April 11.

Karikari was a member of the famous Dr K. Gyasi and the Noble Kings band from 1972 to 1975. He was part of the set that recorded the classic Sikyi Highlife medley album released in 1974 on the Essiebons label.

In a chat with Daily Graphic about Dr K Gyasi, Karikari referred to him as a father and teacher who contributed immensely to the musical upbringing of not him alone but other prominent instrumentalists like guitarist Eric Agyeman, organist Ernest Honny and drummer Thomas Frimpong.

Dr Gyasi is credited with being one of the musicians who made the guitar become popular in highlife between the 1950s and the 1970s. In his active playing days, his contribution to the upliftment of highlife was said to have been appreciated so much by the nation’s first President that he took him (Dr Gyasi) and his band on some of his official foreign trips.

Dr Gyasi was among the personalities recognised and honoured in 2004 alongside others like King Onyina, Agya Koo Nimo, Jerry Hanson and Efua Dorkenoo under the Living Legend programme instituted by the National Theatre of Ghana and the Musicians Association of Ghana (MUSIGA).

According to Karikari, he and Eric Agyeman first met Dr Gyasi in Kumasi when they were members of a band called Afro Boats led by one Mr Boateng.

“He said he had heard of us as hard-working young men and that he would like to work with us in his band. We agreed to his request and went over to join the Noble Kings. There were other guys in there like saxist Kwame Atta and drummer singer Thomas Frimpong,” Karikari recollected.

“Around that time he did not joined in to play regularly with us on stage but he was the backbone, the overall boss and director. He wrote songs for us but some of us in the band could also compose so we would take what we had put together to him and he would go over everything and direct the recordings.”

Apart from the Sikyi Highlife album, Karikari also worked with Dr Gyasi on other highlife collections such as Yaa Kwaa Mma and Nsem Keka Adooso.

“He brought a certain sophistication as well as simplicity to highlife. We have lost a great man but I’m glad the trend of highlife he propagated is still alive,” Karikari added.

Dr Gyasi’s burial will be preceded by a wake on Wednesday, April 10 at his residence, Patasi in Kumasi. The body will be viewed by family, friends and other mourners from 4.00am to 10am on Thursday prior to the pre-burial service at Mount Sinai Methodist Church at 10.30am at Patasi.

The final funeral rites for the late great musician will be held on Saturday, April 13 at Heroes Park, Kumasi. A thanksgiving service will come off at 9.00am on Sunday, April 14 at Mount Sinai Methodist Church, Patasi.

Source: Kouame Koulibaly