Music Front Loses Three ‘Seniors’

The music fraternity in this country has over the last few months been hit with the death of three experienced musicians who impacted the scene with more than just competence on their various instruments.

Guitarist, composer, arranger and conductor Stan Nii Nyan Plange died on April 21, 2015 at the age of 78. Keyboardist, composer, singer and music entrepreneur Malek Crayem, 69, passed away on June 19, 2015 while saxophonist, trumpeter and music teacher, Pa Akrashie, 78, also left us on June 22, 2015.

Stan Plange, soon after leaving Adisadel College, joined a band called Down Beats in 1957 at Korle Gonno in Accra. It was led by a Nigerian called Bill Friday and when he decided to move the band to Nigeria, Plange left to team up with pianist Ray Ellis and others in the Comets band.

He went on to play with the Stargazers before going to Nigeria to re-join Down Beats. Over there, he also played with the Nigerian Broadcasting Band which included two other Ghanaians: guitarist Art Bennin and flutist, singer and percussionist Nat ‘Lee Puma’ Hammond.

Plange later played with Broadway but was significantly known for his leadership of the Uhuru and Ghana Broadcasting Corporation bands.

He was always willing to support younger musicians with his immense knowledge, and percussionist Okyerema Asante once described him as “the great music teacher.”

The name Malek Crayem may not ring a bell in the ears of many contemporary music lovers here but until his death last month, he was one of the key people that helped keep live music aloft, especially in the nation’s capital.

He owned the Qu’est-ce Que C’est, Y2K, Serenades and Sounds Unlimited bands and played regularly with a trio he called Malek and Friends.

Born and bred in Accra, he attended Opoku Ware Secondary School in Kumasi before forming the Magic Aliens band with some friends in 1967.

He started there as drummer but later moved to keyboards. The Magic Aliens, with him on keyboards, featured at the famous Soul To Soul concert in Accra in 1971.

Pa Akrashie was one of the few horn players who displayed good ability on both trumpet and saxophone.

He was a key element in the Edikanfo Super Band formed by the late Faisal Helwani. He played later with other bands and eventually became the leader of the Sweet Beans.

Pa Akrashie had a pleasant personality and was a prominent session man. Artistes he recorded with included Gyedu Blay Ambolley, Pat Thomas, Jewel Ackah, Asabea Cropper, Amakye Dede, KK Kabobo, Lady Talata and many others.

He gladly put his knowledge at the disposal of younger colleagues and that was why many fell on him to help out with arrangements in the studio.

Stan Plange has already been buried. Burial dates for Malek Crayem and Pa Akrashie are yet to be announced.