Demis Roussos

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Demis Roussos
Demis Roussos in Baku 2-cropped.jpg
Roussos in Baku, 2013
Background information
Birth nameArtemios Ventouris-Roussos
Born(1946-06-15)15 June 1946
Alexandria, Egypt
Died25 January 2015(2015-01-25) (aged 68)
Athens, Greece
Genres Pop, world, folk, rock, progressive, schlager
Instruments Vocals, guitar, bass, trumpet
Years active1963–2014
Labels Mercury, Philips
Associated acts Aphrodite's Child, Vangelis, the Idols

Artemios "Demis" Ventouris-Roussos [lower-alpha 1] ( /ˈrss/ ; 15 June 1946 – 25 January 2015) was an Egyptian-born Greek vocalist and performer who had an internationally acclaimed career, as a single recording artist and bandleader. As a band member he is best remembered for his work in the progressive rock music act Aphrodite's Child, but as a vocal soloist, his repertoire included hit songs like "Goodbye, My Love, Goodbye, "From Souvenirs to Souvenirs and "Forever and Ever".

Egypt Country spanning North Africa and Southwest Asia

Egypt, officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is a Mediterranean country bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south, and Libya to the west. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, across the Red Sea lies Saudi Arabia, and across the Mediterranean lie Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, although none share a land border with Egypt.

The Greeks or Hellenes are an ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus, southern Albania, Italy, Turkey, Egypt and, to a lesser extent, other countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world.

Aphrodites Child Greek band

Aphrodite's Child was a Greek progressive rock band formed in 1967, by Vangelis Papathanassiou, Demis Roussos, Loukas Sideras, and Silver Koulouris (guitar). The band's career ended shortly after release of their most impactful album, 666, which has appeared on a number of lists of the top progressive or psychedelic albums of all time.

Contents

Roussos sold over 60 million albums worldwide [1] and became "an unlikely kaftan-wearing sex symbol". [2]

Kaftan long, coatlike garment, traditionally fastened at the waist with a sash

A kaftan or caftan is a variant of the robe or tunic, and has been worn in a number of cultures around the world for thousands of years. In Russian usage, kaftan instead refers to a style of men's long suit with tight sleeves. Used by many Middle Eastern ethnic groups, the kaftan is ancient Mesopotamian in origin. It may be made of wool, cashmere, silk, or cotton, and may be worn with a sash.

Early life

Roussos was born and raised in Alexandria, Egypt, in a Greek [3] [4] family where his father George (Yorgos) Roussos was a classical guitarist and an engineer and his mother Olga was a singer; her family originally came from Greece. [3] As a child, he studied music and joined the Greek Church Byzantine choir in Alexandria. [5] [6] His formative years in the ancient port city's cosmopolitan atmosphere were influenced by jazz, but also traditional Arab and Greek Orthodox music. [7] His parents lost their possessions during the Suez Crisis and consequently decided to move to Greece. [8]

Classical guitar acoustic wooden guitar with wide neck, strings made of nylon

The classical guitar is a member of the guitar family used in classical music. An acoustic wooden string instrument with strings made of gut or nylon, it is a precursor of the acoustic and electric guitars which use metal strings. The name guitar comes from Persian language, in which Tar means string. Tar is also the name of an Iranian instrument that could be the primary form of guitar. Classical guitars are derived from the Spanish vihuela and gittern in the fifteenth and sixteenth century, which later evolved into the seventeenth and eighteenth century Baroque guitar and later the modern classical guitar in the mid nineteenth century.

Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, United States. It originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and developed from roots in blues and ragtime. Jazz is seen by many as "America's classical music". Since the 1920s Jazz Age, jazz has become recognized as a major form of musical expression. It then emerged in the form of independent traditional and popular musical styles, all linked by the common bonds of African-American and European-American musical parentage with a performance orientation. Jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation. Jazz has roots in West African cultural and musical expression, and in African-American music traditions including blues and ragtime, as well as European military band music. Intellectuals around the world have hailed jazz as "one of America's original art forms".

Arabic music music of the Arab world

Arabic music is the music of the Arab World with all its different music styles and genres. Arabic countries have many styles of music and also many dialects; each country has its own traditional music.

Musical career

After settling in Greece, Roussos participated in a series of musical groups beginning with the Idols when he was 17, where he met Evángelos Papathanassíou (later known as Vangelis) and Loukas Sideras, his future bandmates in Aphrodite's Child. [9] After this, he joined the Athens-based band We Five, another cover band which had limited success in Greece. [10]

Vangelis Greek composer of electronic, progressive, ambient, jazz, pop rock, and orchestral music

Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou, known professionally as Vangelis, is a Greek musician and composer of electronic, progressive, ambient, jazz, and orchestral music. He is best known for his Academy Award-winning score to Chariots of Fire, also composing scores for the films Blade Runner, Missing, Antarctica, The Bounty, 1492: Conquest of Paradise, and Alexander, and the use of his music in the PBS documentary Cosmos: A Personal Voyage by Carl Sagan.

Lucas Sideras is the former drummer of the Greek progressive rock band Aphrodite's Child.

Athens Capital and largest city of Greece

Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning over 3,400 years and its earliest human presence starting somewhere between the 11th and 7th millennium BC.

Roussos came to a wider audience in 1967 when he joined progressive rock band Aphrodite's Child, with Vangelis and Sideras, initially as a singer but later also playing bass guitar, achieving commercial success in France and other parts of Europe from 1968 to 1972. They set off for London to break into the international music scene but were turned back at Dover due to visa problems. They retreated to Paris where they decided to stay, signing a record deal there with Philips Records. Their first recording sessions were delayed by the general strike of May 1968 but later the same year the song "Rain and Tears" was issued across Europe. The song appeared on the album End of the World in October. Composed by Vangelis and the French lyricist Boris Bergman, the song featured Roussos’s unusual high tenor. The song was only a minor hit in Britain but was successful in many other countries. [10] Roussos's operatic vocal style helped propel the band to international success, notably on their final album 666 , based on passages from the Book of Revelation, which became a progressive rock cult classic. [10]

Progressive rock is a broad genre of rock music that developed in the United Kingdom and United States throughout the mid- to late 1960s. Initially termed "progressive pop", the style was an outgrowth of psychedelic bands who abandoned standard pop traditions in favour of instrumentation and compositional techniques more frequently associated with jazz, folk, or classical music. Additional elements contributed to its "progressive" label: lyrics were more poetic, technology was harnessed for new sounds, music approached the condition of "art", and the studio, rather than the stage, became the focus of musical activity, which often involved creating music for listening rather than dancing.

The bass guitar is a plucked string instrument similar in appearance and construction to an electric or an acoustic guitar, except with a longer neck and scale length, and typically four to six strings or courses.

Dover town and major ferry port in Kent, South East England

Dover is a major ferry port in Kent, South East England. It faces France across the Strait of Dover, the narrowest part of the English Channel, and lies south-east of Canterbury and east of Maidstone. The town is the administrative centre of the Dover District and home of the Dover Calais ferry through the Port of Dover. The surrounding chalk cliffs are known as the White Cliffs of Dover.

After Aphrodite's Child disbanded, Roussos continued to record sporadically with his former bandmate Vangelis. In 1970, the two released the film score album Sex Power (the album has also been credited to Aphrodite's Child), and later recorded the 1977 album Magic together. Their most successful collaboration was "Race to the End" (also sung in Spanish as "Tu Libertad"), a vocal adaptation of the musical theme from the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire (scored by Vangelis). Roussos also guested on Vangelis's soundtrack to Blade Runner (1982), [11] on the tracks "Tales of the Future", "Damask Rose", "Taffey's Snake Pit Bar", and "On the Trail of Nexus 6" (several only available in non-bootleg form on the 29th Anniversary Limited Edition CD set released in 2011).

A soundtrack album is any album that incorporates music directly recorded from the soundtrack of a particular feature film or television show. The first such album to be commercially released was Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the soundtrack to the film of the same name, in 1938. The first soundtrack album of a film's orchestral score was that for Alexander Korda's 1942 film Jungle Book, composed by Miklós Rózsa. However, this album added the voice of Sabu, the film's star, narrating the story in character as Mowgli.

<i>Chariots of Fire</i> 1981 film by Hugh Hudson

Chariots of Fire is a 1981 British historical drama film. It tells the fact-based story of two athletes in the 1924 Olympics: Eric Liddell, a devout Scottish Christian who runs for the glory of God, and Harold Abrahams, an English Jew who runs to overcome prejudice.

<i>Blade Runner</i> 1982 science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott

Blade Runner is a 1982 neo-noir science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott, written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, and Sean Young. It is loosely based on Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968). The film is set in a dystopian future Los Angeles of 2019, in which synthetic humans known as replicants are bio-engineered by the powerful Tyrell Corporation to work on off-world colonies. When a fugitive group of Nexus-6 replicants led by Roy Batty (Hauer) escapes back to Earth, burnt-out cop Rick Deckard (Ford) reluctantly agrees to hunt them down.

Solo career

Roussos also began a solo career with the song "We Shall Dance" in 1971, which was a top ten hit in both the Netherlands and Belgium. Initially unsuccessful, he toured around Europe and became a leading artist. His solo career peaked in the mid 1970s with several hit albums. [11] His single "Forever and Ever" topped the charts in several countries in 1973. It was No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart in 1976. [5] Other hits by Roussos included "My Friend the Wind", "My Reason", "Velvet Mornings", "Goodbye My Love, Goodbye", "Someday Somewhere" and "Lovely Lady of Arcadia". His first UK single to chart was in 1975: "Happy to Be on an Island in the Sun" written by a Northern Irishman David Lewis with the record reaching No. 5 on the charts. [2] His popularity in the rest of Europe, but not the UK, came to fascinate BBC TV producer John King who made a documentary titled "The Roussos Phenomenon" in 1976. Philips Records released a four-song record of the same name, which was the first extended play to top the UK singles chart. [12] He was equally successful across Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Japan. [13]

In 1973, Roussos made one of his earliest television appearances on The Basil Brush Show [14] and also appeared on Nana Mouskouri's TV show in the UK. [12] In 1978 he had his only disco hit titled "L-O-V-E (Got A Hold Of Me)" in 1978. In 1980, he had a hit with a cover of Air Supply's "Lost in Love", [15] sung as a duet with Florence Warner. [16]

Roussos' run of hits was maintained in the 1980s mainly in France with a number two "Quand je t'aime" in 1988 and "On écrit sur les murs" in 1989, along with golden records for the albums Le Grec and Voice and Vision. Also his Christmas Album and Greatest Hits easily reached the gold status in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. In 1989, he recorded the song "Young Love", a duet with German singer and songwriter Drafi Deutscher, which was released as a single in Germany and reached No. 2 on the German music TV show ZDF-Hitparade in October that year. [17]

The 1990s saw even more substantial releases by Roussos. In 1993, he released "Insight" (also called "Morning Has Broken") to general acclaim. After that he teamed up with BR Music in the Netherlands to produce "Immortel", "Serenade" and "In Holland". [18]

Roussos in Kiev, 2010 Demis Roussos in Kiev.png
Roussos in Kiev, 2010

Roussos continued to record and tour. In 2002 he toured England when a "best of" collection he made, Forever and Ever – Definitive Collection , reached no. 17 on the UK Albums Chart, [2] although his voice was noted to have changed with "the trilling vibrato having evolved into a husky, and at times guttural, whisper." [19]

In more recent years he appeared in Russia and the United Arab Emirates.[ citation needed ] A committed follower of the Greek Orthodox faith, he sang as a guest in a number of churches in Greece and worldwide, including France. [12]

In 2006, he released Demis Roussos - Live in Brasil, [20] almost thirty years after "Você Você e Nada Mais", a Portuguese hit in 1977. [21] From 2006 to 2008, he was part of the Âge Tendre et Têtes de Bois tour, a series of concerts featuring French singers from the 1960s and 1970s. [22] [23]

Roussos staged a comeback in 2009, wherein he recorded his final studio album, Demis, produced by Marc di Domenico  [ fr ], released on May 11. [24]

Just one month before his death, Roussos selected the tracks for an official CD compilation of his life's work, including notes by his two children Emily and Cyril. The CD, Demis Roussos Collected, was released in March 2015.[ citation needed ] It became a number one album in the Belgian album charts and reached number 61 in the Netherlands.

Michel Elefteriades

Demis Roussos collaborated with Michel Elefteriades on many songs which Elefteriades rearranged in an oriental fusion; [25] the project was called Demis Roussos & the Oriental Roots Orchestra. [26] [27] [28] [29]

This project was first presented at the Mediterraneo Byblos Festival in  2001 [30] [31] [32] [33] [34] [35] and shortly after became an international success in the Arab world [36] later being staged again in Egypt and Qatar.

Elefteriades also composed, wrote and arranged the song "The Beast" for Roussos and directed the video for it. [37]

1985 TWA plane hijacking

In June 1985, Roussos was among the passengers of TWA Flight 847 from Athens to Rome, which was hijacked, by members of Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, but he was released along with four other Greeks after five days while most of the other hostages remained there for 17 days. [12] [38] He spent his 39th birthday on the plane and when released unharmed, thanked his captors, at a press conference, for giving him a birthday cake. [39]

Illness and death

For years, Roussos struggled with his weight. In June 1980 he weighed 147 kilograms (23 st; 324 lb). He then began a diet in which he lost 50 kg (8 st; 110 lb) in 10 months. [40] In 1982 he co-authored the book A Question of Weight with his close friend, the photographer Veronique Skawinska, in which he dealt candidly with his struggles with obesity. [41]

Roussos died in the morning of 25 January 2015, from stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer and liver cancer while hospitalized at Ygeia Hospital in Athens, Greece. His death was confirmed a day later by a friend, the journalist Nikos Aliagas, who tweeted the news on 26 January 2015 in both Greek and French. [42] [43] His death was also confirmed later on the same day by his daughter, who spoke to Greek and French media.

Fellow Greek singer Nana Mouskouri paid tribute to Roussos on the French radio station RTL, saying "He had a superb voice, he travelled in the world ... he loved what he was doing... He was an artist, a friend. I hope he is in a better world." [1]

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko said: “This artist left a bright mark in the world music art and made history as one of the greatest singers, whose extremely emotional manner of singing caught the hearts of listeners all over the world ..." [44]

Roussos' funeral was held at the First Cemetery of Athens, the burial place of many Greek politicians and cultural figures, on 30 January. The singer Mariza Koch said, "His was a voice which awakened emotions in people and honoured Greece wherever it reached. We bid farewell to Demis." Composer Giorgos Hatzinasios commented, "I can still hear his heartfelt laugh in my ears and I want to bid farewell to him with nostalgia and love." [45]

Personal life

Roussos was married three [46] [47] [48] [49] or possibly four [50] [51] times. He had a daughter, Emily, with his first wife, Monique. With his second wife, Dominique, he had a son, Cyril. Both of Roussos' children are musicians. [52] [53] His third wife, the American model Pamela Smith, now Pamela Roussos-Rațiu (wife of the Romanian businessman Indrei Rațiu, married in 2004 [54] ), was with him during the 1985 TWA plane hijacking incident. [55] His fourth, and last, wife was a Parisian named Marie. [56]

Roussos listed Mozart and Sting among his favourite composers. [39]

Roussos is the subject of an argument between two main characters in Mike Leigh's 1977 play Abigail's Party . On the day of Roussos' death, the actress Alison Steadman was interviewed by BBC Radio 4's PM and discussed the significance of the music in the play. [57]

Roussos' main hit "Forever and Ever" was later spoofed by Kenny Everett on his television show.[ citation needed ]

On 15 June 2016 his children Emily and Cyril opened the Demis Roussos Museum in Nijkerk, The Netherlands. The museum will move to Athens in 2019, where it will be enhanced with new effects. This unique museum shows his life as a musician, singer and performer as well as the character he was as a private person, by photographs, memorabilia, awards etc. It was originally in the Netherlands because of the connection Roussos had from 1986 onwards with Dutch-based label BR Music.[ citation needed ]

The popular Bollywood song Mehbooba Mehbooba (from the film Sholay ) is based on Roussos "Say you love me". In an interview, the director Ramesh Sippy narrated having heard Roussos at a concert in London. His wife asked him to incorporate this song into Sholay's music track. Pancham (R. D. Burman) used empty bottles as a part of the music in this Indianised version of the song. [58]

Roussos is mentioned in the song The Truce of Twilight, which appears on the album Merrie Land by Damon Albarn's supergroup The Good, the Bad & the Queen.

Discography

Among Demis Roussos's most famous songs are "We Shall Dance" (released as a single in 1971), "My Reason" (1972), "Goodbye, My Love, Goodbye", "Velvet Mornings", "My Friend the Wind", "Lovely Lady of Arcadia" (1973), "Someday Somewhere" (1974), "My Only Fascination" (1974), "From Souvenirs to Souvenirs" (1975)

Studio albums

Filmography

Notes

  1. Greek: Αρτέμιος "Ντέμης" Βεντούρης-Ρούσσος, IPA:  [arˈtemios ˈdemis venˈduris ˈrusos]

See also

Related Research Articles

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"We Shall Dance" is a song by Greek singer Demis Roussos. It was released as a single in 1971. The song was included on Roussos' 1971 album On the Greek Side of My Mind.

"Goodbye, My Love, Goodbye" is a song by Greek singer Demis Roussos. It was released as a single in 1973.

"My Reason" is a song by Greek singer Demis Roussos. It was released as a single in 1972.

"Forever and Ever" is a song by Greek singer Demis Roussos. It was released as a single in 1973.

"Because" is a song by Greek singer Demis Roussos. It was released as a single in 1977.

"From Souvenirs to Souvenirs" is a song by Greek singer Demis Roussos from his 1975 album Souvenirs. It was also released as a single.

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Collected is a triple-CD greatest hits album by Greek singer Demis Roussos, released in 2015 by Universal Music Group.

"Rain and Tears" is a song by the Greek band Aphrodite's Child. It was released as a single in 1968 on Mercury.

"It's Five O'clock" is a song by the Greek band Aphrodite's Child from their 1969 studio album It's Five O'Clock. It was also released as a single.

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  53. "BBC News - Greek singer Demis Roussos dies aged 68". BBC News.
  54. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-07-14. Retrieved 2015-07-13.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  55. FOTO Ostatici într-un avion deturnat de Hezbollah: viaţa de film a Pamelei Raţiu alături de fostul soţ, Demis Roussos, Adevărul, ‹See Tfd› (in Romanian)
  56. Чем запомнился Демис Руссос?. Aif.ru (in Russian).
  57. "BBC Radio 4 - PM, 26/01/2015". BBC. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  58. "Interview with Ramesh Sippy". Lehren retro.Missing or empty |url= (help)

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