Artist Profiles: Hossam Ramzy

Hossam Ramzy

Born in Cairo, on December 15, 1953, Hossam Ramzy’s musical career began at the age of three when he was given his first drum, an Egyptian tabla. Hossam’s passion and talent for percussion was noted by his family, and he was encouraged to study under leading Cairo music teachers. A move to Saudi Arabia, where he met people from many Bedouin tribes, gave the young Hossam a rich insight into the cultural origins of Middle Eastern music.

In the mid 1970s Hossam arrived to England, and enjoyed great success as a jazz drummer working with respected musicians such as Andy Sheppard and Geoff Williams. Hossam soon found himself turning full circle back to his first love, the Egyptian drums, and the thrilling dance rhythms of the Middle East. He then incorporated his rhythmic experience into creating a new sound since heard on hundreds of well known albums.

The distinctive sound of Hossam’s Arabic and North African string arrangements, and his exciting percussion, soon caught the imagination of Peter Gabriel. Hossam was invited to perform on Passion, and later on Us and Up.

Hossam then developed his skills in both string arrangements and production, and has played on, arranged and produced many songs for some of the world’s leading artists such as: Yesim Salkim, Celick Erici, Cheb Khaled, Tarkan, Rachid Taha, Faudel, the Gypsy Kings, etc.

In 1994 Robert Plant and Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) invited Hossam to bring together a band of Arab musicians and work on their reunion album No Quarter – Unledded. The album was a worldwide bestseller. This led to Hossam joining Page and Plant on their historic reunion 1995/96 world tour.

A subsequent highlight was his involvement as orchestra director and lead percussionist for the historic 1-2-3 Soleil concert and album, which brought together the talents of Khaled, Taha, Faudel, and many of North Africa’s leading musicians.

Hossam released numerous albums of Egyptian dance music for ARC Music, and in November 2001, at the label’s 25th Anniversary party, he was awarded a special Platinum disc for being their top selling artist, with over 200,000 sales.

His extensive discography includes: Afro-Celt Sound System, Marc Almond, Joan Armatrading, Ash, Claudio Baglioni, Big Country, Bond, Chick Corea, Pino Daniele, Anne Dudley, E.L.O., Celick Erici, Faudel, Peter Gabriel, Boy George, Gypsy Kings, Deborah Harry, Greg Hunter, Jay-Z, Kamal Ka?et, Alexandros Karozas, Cheb Khaled, Donal Lunny, Mathilda May, Loreena McKenitt, Maryam Mursal, Luciano Pavarotti, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, Procol Harum, Rolling Stones, Rachid Taha, Tarkan, Barbara Thompson, Mari Wilson and Paul Young.

Film Soundtracks: The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Last Temptation of Christ, The Saint, Stargate, Stealing Beauty, Wings of a Dove.

Hossam was honored in 2014 with the significant Taichi Traditional Music Awards (Chinese Institute of Music) for his project Bedouin Tribal Dance, portraying the traditional wedding rituals of nomadic Bedouins.

More recently, Hossam toured with blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa, including two special nights in New York recorded live for the “Joe Bonamassa Live at Carnegie Hall – An Acoustic Evening” special, which went to No.1 on the Billboard US Blues Album chart.

In 2019, he gave a special performance alongside Loreena McKennitt at London’s prestigious Royal Albert Hall.

Hossam Ramzy died on Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

Discography:

Best of Farid Al Atrash (ARC Music, 1994)
Best of Abdul Halim Hafiz (ARC Music, 1994)
Best of Oum Kalthoum (ARC Music, 1994)
Best of Mohammed Abdul Wahab (ARC Music, 1994)
Baladi Plus (ARC Music, 1994)
Sultaan (ARC Music, 1994)
Egyptian Rai (ARC Music, 1995)
Source of Fire (ARC Music, 1995)
Gamaal Rawhany – Soulful Beauty (ARC Music, 1996)
Eternal Egypt (1996)
Ahlamy, with saxophonist Rafat Misso (ARC Music, 1996)
Eclectic with Big Country (Castle Music, 1996)
Best of Hossam Ramzy (1997)
Messiah Meets Progenitor (1998)
Ro-He with Essam Rashad (ARC Music, 1998)
Rhythms of the Nile (ARC Music, 1998)
Immortal Egypt (1998)
Amar (2000)
Sabla Tolo — Journeys into Pure Egyptian Percussion (ARC Music, 2000)
Faddah (ARC Music, 2002)
Qanun El Tarab (ARC Music, 2002)
Flamenco Arabe (ARC Music, 2003)
Hossam Ramzy Presents Egyptian Sufi Sheikh Mohamed Al Helbawy (ARC Music, 2003)
Enchanted Egypt (New World, 2004)
Bedouin Tribal Dance (ARC Music, 2007)
Secrets of the Eye (ARC Music, 2007)
Sabla Tolo II (ARC Music, 2007)
Sabla Tolo III (ARC Music, 2008)
Ruby (ARC Music, 2009)
Rock the Tabla (ARC Music, 2011)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.
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