African Party

A 10 track afrobeat album (38m 54s) — released June 22nd 2015 on Freestyle Records

Ginger Johnson's life is one of the greatest untold stories of African music in Europe. Born George Folunsho Johnson in Ijebu-Ode, Nigeria in 1916. Aged just 18 he joined the Nigerian Navy, and made his first visit to Britain. After World War II Ginger decided to make London his home, working with many artists including British saxophone legend Ronnie Scott who first really utilised Gingers amazing technique to full effect, featuring him in not only his live concerts, but also several recordings for the Esquire jazz label in the 1940's & 50's.

In the 60's Ginger was mentor & guru to a young Fela Kuti. Gingers London home became a vibrant hub of African music activity for Fela and an entire host of musicians who would gather there to exchange news, talk, eat and jam for hours on end. To Fela, and all who gravitated towards Ginger's home, he was simply known and addressed as 'Father'.

Aside from his music, Ginger was something of a social activist. Not only was he a musical educator, and instrumental in the beginnings of The Notting Hill Carnival, he also opened his own venue Club Iroko in Haverstock Hill, North London, which was a creative hub for groups like Osibisa, and also a welcoming hang out for visiting legends like Sun Ra, George Clinton and Funkadelic, and British group Cymande (3 members of Cymande cut their teeth playing in Gingers group).

Ginger and his group performed at The Royal Variety Performance, his music featured in the James Bond film 'Live & Let Die' and Ginger himself appears on screen drumming in the Hammer Films cult classic 'She'. As a session musician he played for a bewilderingly wide range of acts such as Georgie Fame, Osibisa, Madeleine Bell and Quincy Jones. Ginger & his group also collaborated with many early rock bands such as Hawkwind, Argent, Thunderclap Newman, Genesis and Little Free Rock.

Perhaps Ginger Johnson & His African Messengers most high profile live engagement was performing with The Rolling Stones in Hyde Park in 1969, as Ginger his troupe provided the percussive, high energy rhythmic bedrock to the infamous live version of Sympathy For The Devil.

Freestyle Records is incredibly proud to reissue the music of Ginger Johnson & His African Messengers. Its bedrock of African drums, hi life, and jazz was in fact the precursor to Afrobeat - and Gingers direct and vital influence upon Afrobeat, as guide & mentor to it's undisputed champion Fela Kuti is just one part of a fascinating and underappreciated story that only now is being recognised for its significance.

It's great to see the work of a legend come together for the generation of today. Ginger Johnson, one of the most talented and versatile drummers, has inspired all genres of music. Masters At Work, Nuyorican Soul, Elements Of Life have all been influenced by the work of Ginger Johnson and now it’s time for the world today to hear how timeless his music is! - Louie Vega Masters At Work/Nuyorican Soul

Ginger Johnson has been one of the forgotten figures of the UK African music scene but in the 1960s he was ubiquitous in jazz, R&B and particularly on the psychedelic scene. He added a party atmosphere to all the events in which he played but also reminded audiences of the music's African roots - David Toop The Wire

Brilliant, brilliant album! - Gilles Peterson BBC 6 Music

It's great what Freestyle Records have done... Ginger Johnson was a pioneer of African music and a great musician, even before I met him, I loved everything he did from day one - Tony Allen Afrobeat legend

Working with Ginger Johnson was a unique experience, always enjoyable and always uplifting. Most importantly it introduced us, for the first time, to the beauty and intricacy of Highlife music which provided one of the influences for rhythms and sounds we created in Cymande - Patrick Patterson Cymande

From first note to last its infectious music sets pulses racing and demands that the listener dance to it. The welcome return of a classic album! - John Eyles

Love it! History right here! - Mike Chadwick Jazz FM /

This is an an all time classic album from a remarkable and imaginative percussionist. Thank goodness its been reissued. - John Warr Juice 107.2 FM /

..harmonic ideas from jazz, West African highlife music and calypso... sounds like the very early rumblings of Fela’s afrobeat. Nice find! - Bill Lupoletti

Re-issue of The Week! - Lauren Laverne BBC 6 Music

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