Inspired by bands like F.B.I., Light Of The World, Hi-Tension & Heatwave, Savanna consisted of bassist Sammy Jacobs (bass), Orphy Robinson (vibes/keyboards/trumpet) & Jeffrey Durrant (drums/percussion).
The three friends had previously played together in another local band that later went to become Second Image. With the final addition of guitarist Leroy Osbourne they became a quartet & began writing & rehearsing together, doing a few local shows trying out material before starting to establish a sound & style of their own.
Their first demo was picked up by local DJ Michael Thompson who then arranged for the band to work with a local production team led by local music impresario, Joe Williams, who had already been influential launching the careers of Britfunk bands like Light Of The World, David Grant & Incognito. Initially, Savanna played in a more jazz funk instrumental style with the dominant use of the vibraphone as a lead sound but Leroy brought other ideas & options into the mix, revealing a voice influenced by such vocal giants as Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder & Sam Cooke. Their next demo recorded, Savanna were offered a recording deal from famed 1980′s independent record label, R&B Records, who had just achieved national chart success with the group Imagination.
Savanna’s first single “I Can’t Turn Away” was recorded with a top notch horn section which included Claude Deppa, Ray Carless & Mark Bassie, as well as LOTW’s Peter Hinds on keys & Mel Gaynor, a school friend of Leroy’s who eventually became drummer for rock group Simple Minds. The single achieved No.1 in many dance music charts internationally & proved a dance floor smash, whilst also achieving a high chart position in the UK National charts.
The second single “Never Let You Go” went straight to the top of the dance music charts, influencing many musicians & singers both internationally & in the UK. Another high national UK chart position was attained, however following significant changes at the record company, the band parted company with R&B soon after & they finally disbanded in 1983.
Orphy continued to work on the busy session circuit recording with many artists including Total Contrast, Hudson Brothers, Working Week & Mica Paris until finally changing to a more jazz orientated path & the formation of the ground breaking Jazz Warriors & a further solo career signed to Blue Note. Sammy & Jeffrey put together a new band named LW5, releasing an album for Virgin Records & supporting heavyweights like The Commodores &Frankie Beverley & Maze during the mid-1980′s, before deciding to move on to the next phase of their careers. Fast forward to June 2010, & with fellow funkateers Atmosfear on the same bill, Savanna reform to play a much anticipated comeback gig with Orphy & Sammy in the line up plus the new additions of Richard Anthony Davis & Chantelle Nandi (vocals), Jessica Lauren (keys), Michael Antoniou (guitar), Renel Shaw (bass) & Kaz Rodriguez (drums).