Les Têtes Brûlées

Les Têtes Brûlées is a group that has popularised bikutsi music in the second half of the 1980s. Their success in Cameroon started after their appearance at the, then still young, national TV station CRTV in 1987. The band was created by Jean-Marie Ahanda, joined by talented and charismatic guitarist Théodore Epémé, better known as Zanzibar. Les Têtes Brûlées transformed the regional, and quite earthy, music style of bikutsi into something new, using elements of punk and rock, and by using electric guitars. Zanzibar innovated by using rubber foam to alter the sound of his guitar in order to imitate the wooden balafons from the central and southern part of Cameroon. This, and the outrageous outfits of the band members (body paint, partly shaven heads) contributed to their success, and the band was highly visible, also beyond Cameroon's boundaries.

French film maker Claire Denis followed the band during their French tour and made the movie « Man No Run », of which the original sound track was released. The tour brought them as far as Japan and the United States. Late 1988, Cameroon was shocked to hear about the sudden death of Zanzibar. Little is precise about the conditions of his death, suicide is often claimed. It left the band in despair, but eventually, the band reformed and continued to perform and record. They accompanied the national football team to the world championship in Italy, which further enhanced their exposure.

A few more albums were recorded until the mid-1990s, but the success and recognition were not as overwhelming as expected and hoped for. But on the other hand, the fascination for the band, and of course for Zanzibar, remains, and the publication of a new book in 2013 (Zanzibar et les Têtes Brûlées du Cameroun : La Passion Bikutsi, by Joseph Fumtim et Anne Cillon Perri) is just one of the symptoms.

• Members of Les Têtes Brûlées, and supporting musicians having played in the band at some point in time:
Théodore Epémé 'Zanzibar' (b. 1962, † 22-10-1988) vocals, guitar
Jean-Marie Ahanda lead vocals, trumpet
Azeme Afata André 'Nylon' drums, vocals
Roger Bekongo guitar, vocals
Albert Ateba Mvondo 'Atebass' bass, backing vocals
Martin Maah 'Cool Bass' (†) bass, vocals
Nago Michael 'Apache Ango' rhythm guitar

Effa Paul Tumba
Sala Bekono (b.1956, † 16 May 1999) backing vocals
Kon Mbogol Martin backing vocals
Abanda Kys Kys backing vocals

Formed: 1980s in Yaoundé, by Jean-Marie Ahanda
Style: Bikutsi

Les Têtes Brûlées
Les Têtes Brûlées

Les Têtes Brûlées

Title Year Label Remarks
Bikutsi fever " Best Of " 2000 Africa Fête Diffusion AFD 004 Distribution Night & Day
Be Happy 1995 Dona Wana 8412942-2 Distribution Déclic
Bikutsi Rock 1992 Dona Wana / Milan 109132
Les Têtes Brûlées - Hot Heads 1990 Shanachie 64030 US re-release of Ma musique à moi
Les Têtes Brûlées 1990 Sterns 9001 LP, UK re-release of Ma musique à moi
Ma musique à moi 1990 Bleu Caraibes 82803-2
Man No Run 1989 Milan A360 Music for the movie Man No Run
Connection - Versions Originales 1980s Lanceleaux-Foty L/F 30 Révélation Télé-Podium + bonus Femme Cocue
Révélation Télé-Podium 87 1980s Lanceleaux-Foty L/F 11 Reference mentioned on sleeve L/F 38 (on label L/F 11)

Page added February 2014