Highlife legend Alfred Benjamin (A.B.) Crentsil is reported to have passed away at age 79.
The news was announced by ace recording engineer, Fred Kyei Mensah (Fredyma) on Wednesday, July 13, 2022, in a Facebook post.
“FAREWELL AB CRENSTIL. The original composer and singer of the famous and controversial songs, ‘Moses and Aba’ AB Crenstil, has died! He had a stint with a lot of bands before joining the Sweet Talks Band with Smart Nkansah and then his own band, Ahenfo. His hit songs, ‘Juliana and Obi ba wiase cannot be forgotten”
The cause of his death is currently unknown, but reports say he was ill for some time.
Tributes have started pouring in for the man regarded as one of the greatest Ghanaian musicians.
Alfred Benjamin Crentsil Jr was born in Prestea, Gold Coast (present-day Ghana), to the late Alfred Benjamin Crentsil Sr and Esi Yaaba in 1943. He was always known as A.B. junior until his father died in 1984 when he assumed the A.B. Crentsil name without the junior.
His primary and middle school education was the Takoradi Methodist Primary and Rev Cleveland Middle School respectively.
After his middle-school examinations, A.B. worked as an electrical apprentice under his father, who was Works Superintendent of the technical branch of Ghana Railways at Takoradi.
While in middle school, Crentsil was introduced to the guitar by Mr Thedoh, and became proficient in playing guitar while singing along when playing it.
He was simultaneously working as an electrician and playing with the Strollers Band owned by one Kwesi Donkor.
Crentsil has played with the El Dorados, the Sweet Talks – which latter group in the 1970s, under the joint leadership of Crentsil and Smart Nkansah, were the resident band at The Talk Of The Town Hotel in Tema, with Crentsil as a lead singer – and then finally the Ahenfo Band.
Crentsil opened a 16-track recording studio in 1990. “Devil” is among his bbest-known songs.
Crentsil continued to release new albums and won the accolades that are awarded to top musicians in Ghana.
As he always says: “When burger highlife came and everybody loved it, we all joined the train because we also wanted to make some money, but one that I realized is that, highlife will always be the original form of music for Ghanaians and we will always come back to it.
Alfred Benjamin Crentsil began his musical career with the El Dorados of the State Aboso Glass Factory and the Lantics in Takoradi.
In 1973, he joined the Sweet Talks that included Eric Agyeman, Smart Kwaku Nkansah and Pope Flynn.
This group was the resident band of the Talk of the Town Nightclub in Tema owned by Jonathan Abrahams, the brother of the highlife singer Joe Mensah.
Crentsil’s Sweet Talks (later re-named Super Sweet Talks) released albums such as ‘Adam and Eve’, ‘Mbesiafo Nto Nsa’, ‘Kusum Beat’, ‘Spiritual Ghana’ and also ‘Hollywood Highlife Party’ recorded in the United States.
In 1979, the group broke up. Whilst its lead guitarist Smart Nkansah moved on to form the Black Hustlers and then Sunsum, Crentsil set up the Super Brains, which released (featuring guitarist Smart Nkansah) the song ‘Atia’ which warns of the danger of drinking too much local gin. Crentsil then formed Ahenfo (Kings) in 1982 which released ‘Tantie Alaba’ and the controversial and erotic song ‘Moses’.
During the 1980s, Crentsil mainly recorded in Canada and his band toured abroad extensively.
His top 1980s releases include ‘Kafo Mpo Dzidzi’, ‘Abrokyiri Abrabo’, ‘Party Time with The Stars’ and ‘Toronto by Night’.
More recent recordings are ‘Highlife in Canada’ and a 1991 re-release by World Circuit Records of his ‘Hollywood Highlife Party’. Since the 1990s, many of his hits have also been released on CD by the UK-based companies World Circuit Records and Sterns.
In the mid-2000s, he teamed up with the highlife artist Obour to produce a collaborative highlife-hiplife album.
Crentsil still makes occasional appearances, for instance at the Highlife Festivals and Parties organised periodically in Accra by Mark Okraku-Mantey of Slip Music.
He is known for songs such as ‘Moses’, ‘Atia’, ‘Obi Baa Wiase’, ‘Angelina’, ‘Papa Samo’, ‘Yewo Adze Oye’, among others.
Crentsil and his wife Elizabeth had eight (8) children.