Each person has his favorites, so have I. When it comes to Makossa, mine is already since 1987 the one and only Guy Lobe. Now I have just started this blog, I have to ask your attention for the fact that Guy's first record "Nko wanga" was released 25 years ago. For me a good occasion to tell you how I became hooked up by his music.
It was on a saterday afternoon in 1987 that I went to Brussels to visit the record shop Musica Nova. In those days this shop, owned by the Italian "Pierro" was the best place to buy the latest African records.
The shop was overcrowded as usual on saterdays, with customers from various African and European countries. One of the special things in Musica Nova was that you could not listen to the music of your choice with headphones. No, you had to ask Pierro to play the record for you over the speakers in the shop. Because there were so many customers waiting, Pierro was constantly busy with playing small parts of various records, to give his customers an impression of the music they were interested in. So after a minute of Pepe Kalle, he switched to Kassav and from there to Moni Bile, Franco, Nyboma, Bembeya Jazz and so on. Then suddenly it happened, my head was blown off by a loud uptempo beat and a the very powerfull voice of Guy Lobe. I turned my back and looked in the face of Pierro, who was smiling from ear to ear while shaking his head. "what is this?" I asked him in my broken French en he showed me the sleeve of "Solitude", the new record from Guy Lobe. I new Guy's music already from poor (video) K7's but through these big speakers his music became something quite different for me and hooked me up completely. I bought the record immediately and didn't rest until I found his two earlier records, the already mentioned "Nko wanga" from 1985 and "Mon amie a moi" from 1986.
1991 AFRICAN MUSIC FESTIVAL1991
Four years later in 1991 was my first time to see Guy Lobe perform live during the "African Music Festival" in Delft. He teamed up as member of the "Cameroon All Stars" together with Aladji Toure, Gilly Doumbe, Epee & Koum and Ndedi Eyango. They were the last act of the festival and gave a good show, only due to delay in the programm their performance was a bit short.
1993 LIVE IN ROTTERDAM
In 1993 I got a new chance to see him live on stage when my former wife decided to organise a concert with musicians from Cameroon to celebrate her graduation as a social worker. Of course I convinced her that she should arrange Guy Lobe for this concert and so it happened. We went together to Paris to arrange the deal with Aladji Toure and finally on the second of October 1993 "The Makossa All Stars" played a fantastic live-show for about 400 people in a small venue in my hometown Rotterdam. The band was leaded by Aladji Toure on bass, Guy Bilong drums, Bobby Nguime guitar, Fred Savio keyboards and Guy Lobe, Dora Decca and Epee & Koum as singers.
|from left to right: Epee Mbengue, Koum Mbengue, Dora Decca (behind) Guy Lobe and Aladji Toure|
A PROLIFIC ARTIST
Born January 27, 1959 in the Akwa district in Douala, Guy Lobè is the eldest of a family of seven children. Little Guy grew up in Rue Kotto in Deīdo and passes his secondary school at the Integ College and got away with a Bachelor’s degree. He started to work in an insurance company but was capticated by making music and left the world of business after a few years. He had already taken his first musical steps at school concerts before he started to perform in cabarets, notably the Aris Bar, one of the famous cabarets of the 80’s, located in the Akwa district in Douala.
Beside training his vocal skills, Guy also learned to play different instruments and handles the guitar, bass and piano among others. In 1984 Aladji Touré produced his first album Dégager. The album was well received and was followed in 1986 by Mon amie à moi. The title track of this LP became a massive hit in Cameroon as well as the subsequent albums Solitude (1987), Union libre (1988) and Coucou (1989). At the end of the 80’s Guy Lobe, had become on of the most popular Makossa singers and among the African diaspora in Paris his songs were as popular as those of Kassav.
“He put on the record market at least one record a year, was at the top of the Hit parades and has won awards in Côte d’Ivoire, Benin, Canada and the Caribbean among others,” recalls fellow singer Sam Mbendè. For his colleague artists, Guy Lobè was a lyricist. He made songs for texts and developed many themes related to love, determination. It contributed to the rhythm Makossa, it’s letters of nobility. Guy has also supported the career development of several other artists. He wrote compositions for Charlotte Mbango (Konkai Makossa), the twins Epée & Koum (Soukoumakossa), Betuel Enola (Proprièté privée) and Jo Doumbé (Attention a la vie). He also wrote the song Chercher la vie for Alain Gérard. “The musical seed, I picked it up watching Guy Lobè sing, “said the latter. Guy made also several musical collaborations, notably with Joëlle Esso, Sergeo Polo, Aladji Touré and the Congolese guitarist Géo Bilongo.
In 2010, Guy Lobè suffered a stroke but recovered and in the summer of 2012 he married his love Patience Ondoa at Mairie de Colombe in Paris. Step by step, he picked up his musical career again and started working on a new album, together with his friend and bassist Fréderic Doumbè. “Guy Lobè recently composed world music titles. He said he would change the register. He had no longer the strength to do makossa and was going to launch into World Music”, confides collegue fellow singer Jacky Kinguè. The death of Guy Lobè has buried all his plans and means a great loss. Not only for his loved ones, but also for the lovers of pure Makossa.