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Hailing from Kumasi, Pat Thomas had lived with highlife legend King Onyina from a young age before working with Ebo Taylor in two of Ghana’s great 1960s highlife big bands, Broadway Dance Band and Stargazers.

During the ‘80s, Pat continued to stay close to highlife and, by the middle of the decade, had become the biggest star in the emerging “burger highlife” scene involving recordings produced in Berlin and Hamburg and exported to Ghana. Together with guitarist George Darko, his output added to the rich mix of cultures making the global reach of highlife possible.

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“I’m an afrobeat drummer but Pat Thomas is highlife. That is what he does so well.”

Tony Allen

A regular collaborator with Ebo Taylor, Pat Thomas was mainstay of the ‘70s and ‘80s Ghanaian highlife, afrobeat and afro-pop scenes, hitting big with the Ghana Cocoa Board-sponsored Sweet Beans band. Thomas’ new album marks over 50 years making music and reunites him with old friends: Ebo Taylor provides horn arrangements, Tony Allen contributes drums to several tracks, Osei Tutu (Hedzolleh Sounds) plays a memorable trumpet solo and prolific 1970s bassist Ralph Karikari (The Noble Kings) also features. Younger generation stars appearing include bassist Emmanuel Ofori, percussionist “Sunday” Owusu and Pat Thomas’ daughter Nanaaya, an acclaimed vocalist in her own right.

Hailing from Kumasi, Thomas had lived with highlife legend King Onyina from a young age before working with Ebo Taylor in two of Ghana’s great 1960s highlife big bands, Broadway Dance Band and Stargazers. They would collaborate regularly, Pat contributing vocals to Ebo’s solo albums and Ebo arranging horns for Pat’s songs.

Both would become a mainstay of the ‘70s and ‘80s Ghanaian highlife, afrobeat and afro-pop scenes, hitting big with the Ghana Cocoa Board-sponsored Sweet Beans band. Fela Kuti’s bandleader, drummer Tony Allen, would record a session with Sweet Beans in Kumasi in 1975 (as yet unreleased). “Highlife was our music,” Pat remembers. “People like Ebo and I modernised it, made it more relevant to our day. We took the Kwa music of Kumasi and other local styles and added Western elements.”

With his distinctive flowing vocal style, sung in Fanti and Ashanti Twi dialect, Pat became established as one of Ghana’s biggest musical draws.

During the ‘80s, Pat continued to stay close to highlife and, by the middle of the decade, had become the biggest star in the emerging “burger highlife” scene involving recordings produced in Berlin and Hamburg and exported to Ghana. Together with guitarist George Darko, his output added to the rich mix of cultures making the global reach of highlife possible.

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