Master stage performer and one of the greatest Highlife maestros, Senior Eddie Donkor, wearing traditional Tigare komfo regalia on the cover of his album “Yebu DiDi”. Circa: 1990.
SENIOR EDDIE DONKOR: ‘KING OF RHYTHM POWER”
Senior Eddie Donkor was a one of the greatest uniquely talented and leading highlife musician, founder of Senior Eddie Donkor International Band of Ghana/ the SUPER SENIOR EDDIE DONKOR & MENOM KOOKO BOYS and one of the originators of highlife genre in Ghana. This multi-talented musical artist was known for his dexterity with guitars; stage-showmanship and Akwapim-Twi accented lyrical acrobatics that attracted many to listen to his songs and pushed them into dancing frenzy. Indeed, Senior Eddie Donkor, often blended his awesome highlife rhythms with hilarious lyrics of trending event that narrates the real life situations of ordinary Ghanaian.
For this feat, he earned the accolade from among his peers as the “‘KING OF RHYTHM POWER”. Professor John Collins, the foremost Ghanaian music historian and musicologist posits that Eddie Donkor deserves tons of praises and recognition for unique style of music. “Although in the 1980s, burger highlife incorporated electronic drumbeat there were still highlife musicians like Senior Eddie Donkor (a.k.a “King of Rhythm Power”), who produced unique highlife rhythm compositions with his band (Collins, 2006).
When the global economic meltdown flowed to Ghana and was having its impact on the Ghanaians with untold hardships, Senior Eddie Donkor recorded an electrifying song in those days titled, “Ma yɛ Hot” with a chorus that goes like “Wo Aye Hot, Me Nso Maye Hot, Hot, Hot!” His other major hard-hitting tracks are “Yɛbo didi”, “N.C.N.C. No Contribution No Chop”, “Ampu Che Che”, “Na Me Cause Am”, “Eye Banker”, “Sumsum pɛ”, “Asiko Darling”, “Corner Fast”, “New King New Law”, “Monom Kooko”, among others. The chorus of “Menon Kokoo”, goes like “Menom Kooko, kooko dɛdɛɛdɛ, Kooko!” (I will take in porridge, porridge is very sweet, oh porridge!).
The song caught the attention of the populace, and most Ghanaians were fond of singing this chorus, especially nursing parents who sang it as a favorite lullaby when calming their infants or breast-feeding them. Senior Eddie Donkor also recorded a popular song for Ghana`s legendary boxer, D K Poison. The song was “D.K. Poison akofa aba” (Interview with Allotey Bruce-Konuah 2016).
Senior Eddie Donkor was born on 6th March 1942 at Akropong-Akwapim, in the Eastern Region of Ghana. On that same day elsewhere in the world, great artistic icons such as Charles Tolliver (the Great Trumpeter on Jackie McLean’s Blue Note albums and co-founder of Strata-East Records), Paco Cepero (Spanish Flamenco artist who worked as an accompanist as well as a solo artist and released the albums Corazón y Bordón and De Pura Cepa), Ben Murphy (the famous TV Actor who played the role of Kid Curry on Alias Smith and Jones alongside Pete Duel) among others made their debut into this theatre of life too.
The “King of Rhythm Power” was baptized in Akropong Presbyterian Church with the name Edward Kofi Donkor. He started his elementary school at Akropong Presbyterian; and in no time began to exhibit his artistic prowess at school.
In his youth, Senior Eddie Donkor played with some few avant-garde highlife bands; but later joined a group of young and talented musical artists including the then emerging musical phenomenon, Patrick Ampadu (later Nana Kwame Ampadu) and others to form the African Brothers Band, which was inaugurated at the Park Cinema in Accra in 1963.
The original members of the African Brothers Band were Snr. Eddie Donkor (Vocals and Guitar-Rhythms), Patrick Ampadu aka Paa-Still (vocals), Rover Kofi Amoh, Maxwell Teacher Boateng (Vocals), A.Koo Ofori (Guitar and Vocals), Kwame Anim, Nana Nyarko, Yaw Asante and Yaw Owusu (Interview with Allotey Bruce-Konuah 2016). The group, with their worn-out musical instruments was a delight to watch when they performed. They composed a lot of songs in no time but were not able get producer.
With a characteristic that was common of the wannabe-bandsmen of yore in Ghana, the African Brothers Band refused to have their sprits broken and continued to play at funerals and Hausa (Moslem) weddings called “suuna”. Later around 1964, Joe Dee, an electrician and Oppong Kyekyeku joined the group as Bass player and tenor singer respectively.
After some time, the group had their musical breakthrough, and Eddie Donkor, the leading vocalist of the band who has earned his title as the “Senior” of all Musicians, bowed out. Appropriating the title “senior” to his name, Senior Eddie Donkor formed Eddie Donkor & The Internationals, Senior Eddie Donkor International Band and later the SUPER SENIOR EDDIE DONKOR & MENOM KOOKO BOYS.
From there, Eddie Donkor released serious of funny, hard-hitting and proverbial burger highlife songs. In 1972, he released his “King Of Rhythm Power “ (LP, Album) recorded with Gapophone Records. Series of singles tracks were released afterwards. He also released Yebu DiDi (LP) in 1990 recorded with Agya Paye Records, as well as Asiko Darling (LP) and Menom Kooko (LP), which were both recorded with Research Records. In 2003, G-Music Productions reissued Senior Eddie Donkor`s N.C.N.C. No Contribution No Chop (CD, Comp). Some of the other notable tracks of Senior Eddie Donkor are Good Chef [Face the Wall], Kwaku Anase, Ka Na Wu, Jeje Kule, Emmaabeku Mmarima, No Jealous, Osode, Dwene Wo Ho et al.
Senior Eddie Donkor also collaborated with Janet Osei in her classic album. Eddie was on the Bass (which he played as a guest on other musicians’ albums around the same time), with Eric Agyeman playing the lead guitar and Ernest Honey on organ/synths. Eddie Donkor also mentored many musicians who became instant success.
The Ghanaian and the Akwapim Highlife guitarist/musical maestro bowed out of this world in 1995.
Kweku Darko Ankrah