Francis Taylor was known to many as Senemie. He was a Gambian musician, a living legend, founding member of the Super Eagles band and also a founding member of The Ifangbondi band, the creators of the Afro Manding sounds.
His main instruments were the guitar and the Keyboards, but he played a wide variety of other instruments. His innovative use of traditional and folk instruments such as the balafong and Cow horns, was integral to the changing sound of the Ifangbondi band.
The so-called Skillard brought a penetrating intelligence and a stinging wit to both bands and their self-preservation.
But in such songs like Halel Daii Maga, Sutukung, Nyepeto, Ham Ham, Yolele he also marshalled gorgeous melodies to evoke sophisticated, dreamlike world weariness well beyond his age. Such works suggested a profound musical and literary sensibility- a genius in short but a vision of life that was simultaneously reflective – Utopian and poignantly realistic.
He is the father of the musical genius and multi-instrumentalist Kebba Taylor, the guitarist and musical arranger. Senemie is the taste maker of the Gambian music and the trend setter of the Gambia Pop Fashion.
He is the engine of the Super Eagles and the motor of Ifangbondi music band and the machine of the music of the Gambian nation. Senemie is the founder and the maker of the Gambian-freedom music which is ours and made in the Gambia and called the Afro Manding sounds.
He was the one who, when a song is written he would make the music for the song. He is a Composer, an arranger of music and a great guitarist. His skills on the keyboard was renowned throughout the world.
He was the master of the charming organ sound that scored many hits for the Super Eagles in Don’t do that to me baby and for the Ifang bondi legendary songs like the Jola hypnotic rhythm of Atis-A-tis. Because of his skills on musical instruments, he was called Skillard as an honor to his fame.
Senemie was an international and professional sportsman. He was born and raised in Banjul and lived at 6 Hagan street and Leman Street (Jollof & Portuguese ward) in Bathurst, the former name of the capital city of Banjul. He was very quiet and always a respectful person.
He has a pattern of good conduct that made him a friend to many and won fans all over the place. He played cricket for the Gambia national team and won many acclaims as one of Africa’s finest cricket bowlers.
He played with mates like the late Matarr Sarr, Hatib Janneh r, Fisco O.B Conateh, Baba Jagne, Dawda Jagne (Tim), Tapha Kah, Egba Cole, Mr. J.J Rawlings, Abou Dandeh Njie and the former British Governor Sir John Paul. He was a senior staff at the customs department and could have been a director.
While many Gambian musicians with paid jobs decided to stop music and settled for a monthly income job, Senemie continued as a crusader in music to give the Gambia a sound that is Gambia’s own brand of music.
He started his musical career at an early age by making his own guitar as his first musical instrument from a piece of wood, a stick as his fret and nylon stings. He was so attached to his hand made guitar until he was known as the guitar boy.
He taught himself how to play the guitar and how to make musical rhythms and chords and scales, a gift from god that made him to become one of Africa’s greatest musician. He sang with a deep voice like the American Blues Singer Muddy Waters and the Baritone Singer and Jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong.
He can sing, Play the guitar and he was known as the master of the keyboard sound.
Senemie joined the Super Eagles and little is known about him with the original Eagles Band. He left his home to join Paps Touray at 3 Hill Street to study orchestra and band music arrangements. While in the Super Eagles, Senemie displayed an outspokenness that immersed the band in a cultural revolution and helped redefine the rules of acceptable behaviour for musicians. He became an increasingly important symbol of the cultural revolution.
It was Paps Touray who schooled him and also enrolled him into the Super Eagles Band where he was identified as the future King of Gambian music because of his enthusiastic skillfulness.
Even though the Super Eagles had the singing Angels of Paps Touray, Oussou Njie Senor and Edu Hafner, Seneme was the showman of the band and the crown entertainer. In Senegal, he was known as TAY-LORR. He played the guitar with his teeth and knelt in front of thousands to showcase the mastery of the iconic Jimi Hendrix.
Seneme was the Guru, the master of music known to his peers and known throughout Africa as the front-man of the Super Eagles. He was so popular that in Senegal, Ghana and in England, girls would run after him, chasing him for his autograph.
He was a Real super star, a flamboyant artist and one of the best dressed artist in the sub-region. He dressed in Silk suits, woolen cardigans, multi coloured-vest coats, stripped-blazers, and tobacco leaf neck ties, plain faced jeans, bell bottoms jeans that are the most fashionable in Abbey Road in London. His shoes were coloured Chelsea boots of the finest Kashmir leather and his hair was curly, long and puffed and tainted with pomade and gel, re-inventing the Gambian star as American Pops star in the likes of Chuck Berry, James Brown and Little Richard.
Senemie was a catalogue of fashion. HE HAS SEEN IT ALL & HAVE DONE IT ALL. As the group disintegrated towards the end of the 70’s, Senemie embarked on his Ifangbondi career that produced some of the band’s most critically acclaimed album.
While in the Super Eagles, Senemie displayed an outspokenness that immersed the band in a cultural revolution and helped redefine the rules of acceptable behavior for musicians. He became an increasingly important symbol of the cultural revolution
God has shown him pleasure and god have also shown in him pain in his life time and I believe that the best is yet to come out of Senemie. He is a living legend and he is full of ideas and skills.
When he moved from the Super Eagles to Ifangbondi, he thought that after living the life of a pop star in Europe and being fashionable for too long with western clothes and imitating European music, it was time to go back to his roots back to Africa and lunch the Afro Manding sound to promote the African and Gambian culture which are his true roots.
He returned to the Gambia with Paps Touray, Badou Jobe, Ali Harb to start the Ifangbobdi Band and the Afro Manding Sounds. This is the conception how Ifangbondi was formed.
When Super Eagles played Western pop music, Salsa and Reggae and imitation music from other countries everyone loved it but when Ifangbondi played the Afro Manding sounds, Mbalax, Fula music and Jola music, typical Gambian culture and African Music most people walked away.
As in Music, So in life.
Author Oko Drammeh
22, Hagan Street Banjul