Feb 25, 2011

From Benin: Picoby Band D'Abomey

The following article of Picoby Band D'Abomey was orginally published by radiodiffusion.wordpress.com:

Orchestre Picoby-Band were Abomey, which was the former capitol of the kingdom of Dahomey, which is now known as Benin.

Dahomey was under French rule until the country gained it’s independence in 1960. For the next 12 years, ethnic strife contributed to a period of turbulence. There were several coups and regime changes, with three main figures dominating – Sourou Apithy, Hubert Maga, and Justin Ahomadegbé – each of them representing a different area of the country. These three agreed to form a presidential council after violence had marred the 1970 elections. In 1972, a military coup led by Mathieu Kérékou overthrew the council. He established a Marxist government under the control of Military Council of the Revolution (CNR), and the country was renamed to the People’s Republic of Benin in 1975.

As for Orchestre Picoby-Band… This single was the first of three that they released in sequence on L.A. Aux Ecoutes. And I have read that they also released two other singles on the Albarika Store label. All of the songs on the L.A. Aux Ecoutes singles are credited to Avolonto Honore, who also wrote songs for fellow countymen El Rego and Orchestre Poly-Rhytmo, as well as recording under his own name.

On the African Scream Contest compilation, released by on Analog Africa, Samy Ben Redjeb interviewed Nicolas Gomez, who the band leader and guitarist of the Picoby-Band

The band formed in 1953. They were looking for a lead guitarist so I joined them in 1955. The first few years we really struggled, mostly because we had really crappy equipment! That changed radically in 1980. We had written to the cultural centre in Abomey asking for financial help; so did Renova Band, another great group from this town. The cultural centre didn’t have enough cash to support both groups so they decided to organize a competition, with the winner receiving 500.000 CPA. We won and with the cash we bought all kinds of instruments! We then participated in first national music festival, in 1965. The government would invite one band from each, (there were six states at the time). We represented Le Zou. At the end we came in third. La Sondas took first, followed by Annassoua Jazz.

In 1976 we participated in, the Festival des Arts et des Cultures. For that festival we changed our name to Echos du Zou. Super Borgou de Parakou won. We took second place with a traditional track containing revolutionary lyrics called Mi So Gbe. Although Orchestre PoIy-Rythmo was the better band, they made a few mistakes during that contest. The whole band arrived on their brand new motorbikes. Remember it was in 1976, we had the revolution going on here, and Benin was a socialist country at that time. I guess the jury didn’t like those bikes too much. Also. Poly-Rythmo were supposed to compose a song based on the traditional rhythms from their region, but they just played those crazy Jerks.

The two winners of that ‘76 contest, Super Borgou and us, were both going to represent Benin at Festac 77 in Lagos. Unfortunately our equipment was far too weak for such an important show, so we decided to team up with Poly-Rythmo – they had all those fancy Marshall and Orange amps. So we combined the three bands and became L’Orchesrte National du Benin. Mêlomê Clément was President de l’orchesrtre and Moussa Mama Djima was Chef d’orchesrtre. We came in second.


Information by orogod.blogspot.com:

Orchestra Picoby Band has been already introduced on Oro here, but it deserves a more complete post. The band is from Abomey and was found in 1953. It is one of the oldest band from Benin with Renova Band, also from Abomey or Super Star de Ouidah. Those three bands only recorded EP's. Picoby Band recorded at least seven 7-inches singles. Here are four of them. Most of the tracks were afro-beat tunes recorded on Lawani Affisoulayi's label Aux Ecoutes and composed by they great Honore Avolonto. It was around 1970.

On the first record, "Dieu Merci" ("Thank's God") is a very nice soukous tune and "Honton Ve Zoun" a powerful jerk, both composed by Honore Avolonto.

Second record is also composed by Honore Avolonto. "Mi Hon Noun Gbeto" is an excellent pachanga with very good congas sound recording. "Ye Houe Deou" is another jerk tune.

On the third record Honore Avolonto composed "Vikou..." which is called soukous but it does not sound like. "Jo Ahi Nou Se" is a great Afro-Beat tune composed by Sanoussi Mouminou but sang by Avolonto.

Finally, the fourth record has been recorded on Albarika Store's label and composed by Sanoussi Mouminou. The single "Mi Ma Kpe Dji" is a great afro-beat tune sang by Avolonto. "Lidia" is a nice and cool Highlife tune sang by an anonymous singer. I think that this record was released after 1970.


  1. Hello,
    Thank you for your support and your great link about Picoby Band.
    The first Picoby’s 1965 post is fixed.
    Best regards

  2. Just a little bit more about Picoby band on Jam Magica : >jammagica.blogspot.com< where your blog is on my favorite list now. Please feel free to do the same if you enjoy beninese music !