Dick Essilfie-Bondzie was originally a distributor of African music in Ghana. In the late sixties the 10 inch LP enjoyed a brief period of success before the 12 inch LP took off. Decca, Philips, EMI
and Polydor were all producing compilations of 45-rpm singles. Dick would market these records to radio stations and shops, but soon realized that he should be making the recordings himself,
and so formed Essiebons/Dix records.
Another important figure in this late sixties period was Kwadwo Donkoh. Kwadwo left a good, London-based job in the Ghanaian diplomatic service to come home and produce music full time, much to the horror of his family! He set up Agoro records and spent a lot of energy pushing all kinds of Ghanaian music, from big-band Highlife to cultural groups performing traditional music.
In 1971 a concert was arranged in Accra, dubbed 'Soul to Soul'. It featured an array of American soul and jazz stars including Wilson Pickett, The Staple Singers, Roberta Flack, Ike and Tina Turner and Les Mc Cann. There were also a number of local bands on the bill but, unbelievably, they were completely omitted from the double album of the concert released by Atlantic in America. Also on the bill were the latin-rock band Santana, who perhaps did more than anyone that day to point young Ghanaian musicians in the direction of establishing their own brand of Afro-rock.
Fela Kuti had long been a favourite of the Ghanaian audiences, visiting from nearby Nigeria on a regular basis. Fela was a huge crowd drawer, both in the early days of his first Highlife-jazz band, The Koola Lobitos, and later with the legendary Africa 70 band. Since 1969 there had also been the international success of Osibisa, a half Ghanaian, half West Indian band formed by Tedddy Osei, showing that Afro-fusion groups could make it on the international stage. After 1971 a whole new batch of records started to appear in Ghana, influenced by the sounds of Osibisa, Fela Kuti and Santana. Bands like Sawaaba Soundz, The Psychedelic Aliens, The Big Beats, and Boombaya all had their own sounds that consisted of many different influences. All these bands cut 45-rpm singles with either Manufacturers Ghana. Whereas producers had previously been scared of taking financial risks on this music, now with the international success of Osibisa and Santana, producers were dreaming of the lucrative deals that might come their way from abroad. Sadly, none of these bands did receive any such deal and their music was never released outside of Ghana. The exception to this was Hedzolleh Soundz who, after a couple of 45's on the Bibini label (owned by the legendary producer Faisal Helwani), got together with Hugh Masekela and made a string of records that were released in America.