Kiki Gyan was one of Ghana’s most prominent musicians, known for his exceptional keyboard skills and innovative fusion of highlife, funk, and disco. He was born to parents who both played the keyboard.
As a member of the popular Afro-rock band Osibisa, he toured the world and gained international acclaim.
However, Gyan’s life was also marked by personal struggles including drug addiction, and health complications, which ultimately led to his untimely death at the age of 47.
In this article, GhanaWeb delves into the life and legacy of Kiki Gyan, exploring his musical career, his battles with addiction, and the impact he had on Ghanaian and African music.
These were disclosed by the musician in an interview with the BBC in 2001.
1. A highly talented musician and member of Osibisa at age 14
Kiki was a highly talented musician who began his career as a member of Osibisa at the age of 14 in the 1970s. Osibisa was a unique fusion of African rhythms, rock, and funk that captured the imagination of fans all over the world.
When the previous keyboard player left the group, Kiki became their keyboard player, despite some members of the group complaining that he was too young. Kiki’s exceptional talent and dedication to music eventually won over the other members of the group, and he became an integral part of Osibisa’s success.
2. Kiki detailed reasons for leaving Osibisa, said he was short-changed
While playing with Osibisa from 1972 to 1979, Kiki Gyan said he left the band due to his sense of being short-changed in the payment for his contributions to their records. He said despite writing many of the group’s hits, his name was often not on the record, leading to frustration and ultimately causing him to leave the band. This experience shows how the lack of recognition for his work impacted his feelings of self-worth and influenced his decision to move on.
3. Kiki’s Solo Success with “24 Hours in a Disco”
After leaving Osibisa in 1979, Kiki decided to pursue a solo career. His single “24 Hours in a Disco” was a tremendous success and made the charts in both the UK and America. Producers were impressed with Kiki’s talent and told him that he had the potential to become the next Boney M.
4. Kiki Gyan reveals how his addiction began after he left Osibisa
Kiki said that after he left the band, he started playing with musicians who were into drugs. These musicians introduced him to drugs, and although he initially tried to resist, he eventually succumbed to the temptation.
This marked the beginning of his addiction, which lasted for more than two decades and had a devastating impact on his life.
5. Kiki spent $5,000 a day on drugs
Despite her early success, Kiki’s career was derailed by drug addiction. He struggled with a cocaine habit that became so severe that he had a $ 5,000 a day habit at one point. Kiki battled addiction for the rest of his life and went in and out of rehabilitation programs.
6. He was worth 2 million pounds
Kiki revealed that working with some of the biggest names in music made him rich. According to Kiki, he has seen it all and had all the fun, but how fast he made money is how fast it left him.
According to him, he was worth two two million pounds but spent his money on parties, drugs, and being generous to others, which eventually led to him losing all his wealth
Kiki Gyan was known for his love of parties and spending time with wealthy friends, like Elton John and other big names who lived on large properties with horses and other luxury items.
7. Hugh Masekela’s role in Kiki’s recovery
Fortunately, Kiki had some supportive friends, including the South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela. In 2003, Masekela flew Kiki out to a drug rehab center in South Africa to help him overcome his addiction. Although Kiki was unable to maintain his sobriety after returning to Ghana, Masekela’s intervention was a powerful example of the compassion and support that Kiki received from those who cared about him.
8. Kiki Gyan’s mother had a physical reaction to seeing him, which prevented him from seeing her:
In the interview, Kiki Gyan revealed that his mother had a physical reaction to seeing him, which prevented him from seeing her. His mother would fall ill every time she saw him, and as a result, his sister would not allow him to see her.
Kiki’s father and mother were both alive at the time of his death, which was a tragic loss for the family and the music industry. His death was a reminder of the devastating impact that addiction can have on a person’s life and the importance of seeking help to overcome it.
9. Kiki Gyan slept with many women but is shocked he had only one child
Kiki Gyan revealed during the interview that he had spent time with a lot of women, but because of his promiscuous lifestyle, he only had one child, whom he named Vanessa, whom he didn’t see often but hoped to reunite with one day.
According to him, she was born during a time when America had the first black Miss America, and her name reflected this momentous occasion.
He also added that, despite his struggles with addiction and financial ruin, he remained hopeful that he would reconnect with his daughter someday, demonstrating his love for her and his belief that family bonds are important.
10. Kiki revealed what he would have done right if given a second chance
Kiki Gyan expressed regret over his past actions, particularly his addiction to drugs, which he believed contributed significantly to his downfall. He wished to use his experience to spread awareness about the dangers of drug use and advocate for others to say no to drugs.
11. How much he made in three days working with big names like Elton John, Steve Woods among others
Kiki Gyan made a lot of money as a musician outside of Osibisa, playing as a session musician for famous artists like Phil Collins, Elton John, Steve Wood, and Micki Jagger, among others.
According to Kiki, he made a lot of money as a session musician for various famous artists, earning up to 8,000 pounds for three days in the studio. He was considered the best-harmonized organ player in London, and his talents were highly sought after by many artists in the music industry.