The King of Highlife

ET mensah king of highlife

Emmanuel Tettey Mensah popular known as “E.T.” Mensah pioneered the development of the swing-jazz influenced highlife dance-bands that were so popular throughout West Africa in the 1950's and 60's. E.T. went to school in Jamestown where he learned to read music and play the concert flute and piccolo with a teacher called Joe Lamptey, who formed the Accra Orchestra out of his school fife band. E.T. joined the Accra Orchestra in 1932. Back in Accra in 1947 he joined the Tempos under Joe Kelly. When the band split up in 1950, he recruited musicians to form the band E.T. Mensah and the Tempos. In 1952, the Tempos made their first recording with Decca. In 1954, E.T. formed a second band called the Star Rockets. In 1957, Ghana achieved independence and E.T. composed a highlife song entitled "Ghana Freedom Highlife". He died in July 1996 at the age of 77.

image credit: GlobalMusicMatters.com