In 1959, Fela forms his first group, ‘Fela Ransome-Kuti and His Highlife Rakers’. The band record four sides for Melodisc, one of Britain’s first independent African and Caribbean music labels. One single is released. The A-side is a cover of a Victor Olaiya hit. The other two tracks are “Highlife Rakers Calypso No.1” and “Wa Ba Mi Jo Bosue”.
A year after he disbands the Highlife Rakers and forms Koola Lobitos, which has a line-up of West African and Caribbean musicians.
In 1963, Fela forms the first edition of the Fela Ransome-Kuti Quintet. In 1964, NBC hires Fela as a junior producer, with special responsibility for music programming. He forms a second edition of the Fela Ransome-Kuti Quintet, this time focusing on straightahead jazz rather than highlife. That same year popular Drummer, Tony Allen joins the group. In 1967, Trumpeter Tunde Williams joins the group. In 1968, Fela takes Koola Lobitos on a tour to Ghana, the band also released an album, a compilation of the band’s singles.
In February 1969, Fela and the Koola Lobitos recorded a live album at the Afro-Spot (previously Kakadu Spot and later Kalakuta Republik). The group performed in Washington DC, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles, Towards the end of the year, Fela changes the band’s name from Koola Lobitos to Nigeria 70.