Demis Roussos

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Demis Roussos
Ντέμης Ρούσσος
Demis Roussos in Baku 2-cropped.jpg
Roussos in Baku, 2013
Background information
Birth name Artemios Ventouris-Roussos
Born (1946-06-15)15 June 1946
Alexandria, Egypt
Died 25 January 2015(2015-01-25) (aged 68)
Athens, Greece
Genres Pop, world music, pop-folk, soft rock, progressive rock
Occupation(s) Vocalist, bass guitarist, guitarist, trumpeter
Instruments Fender Precision Bass
Years active 1963–2015
Associated acts Aphrodite's Child, Vangelis, The Idols

Artemios "Demis" Ventouris-Roussos (Greek: Αρτέμιος "Ντέμης" Βεντούρης-Ρούσσος, 15 June 1946 – 25 January 2015) was a Greek singer and performer who had international hit records as a solo performer in the 1970s after having been a member of Aphrodite's Child, a progressive rock group that also included Vangelis.

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

Early life[edit]

Roussos was born and raised in Alexandria, Egypt, in a Greek[3][4][5] 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 Byzantine Church choir in Alexandria.[6][7] His formative years in the ancient port city's cosmopolitan atmosphere were influenced by jazz, but also traditional Arab and Greek Orthodox music.[8] His parents lost their possessions during the Suez Crisis and consequently decided to move to Greece.[9]

Early musical career[edit]

After settling in Greece, Roussos participated in a series of musical groups beginning with The Idols when he was 17, where he met Evangelos Papathanassiou (later known as Vangelis) and Loukas Sideras, his future bandmates in Aphrodite's Child.[10] After this he joined the Athens band, We Five, another cover band which had limited success in Greece.[11]

Roussos came to a wider audience in 1967 when he joined progressive rock band Aphrodite's Child, with Vangelis and Loukas 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.[11] 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.[11]

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 also 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, while Roussos also guested on the soundtrack to Blade Runner (1982), with a song entitled "Tales of the Future".[12]

Solo career[edit]

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.[12] His single "Forever and Ever" topped the charts in several countries in 1973. It was No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart in 1976.[6] 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 an Englishman 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 entitled "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.[13] He was equally successful across Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Japan.[14]

In 1973, Roussos made one of his earliest television appearances on The Basil Brush Show[15] and also appeared on Nana Mouskouri's TV show in the UK.[13] 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",[16] sung as a duet with Florence Warner.[17]

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.[18]

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".[19]

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, reached no. 20 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."[20]

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.[13]

In 2006, he released Demis Roussos - Live in Brasil,[21] almost thirty years after "Você Você e Nada Mais", a Portuguese hit in 1977.[22] 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.[23][24]

Roussos staged a comeback in 2009, wherein he recorded his final studio album, Demis, produced by Marc di Domenico, released on May 11.[25]

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]

Michel Elefteriades[edit]

Demis Roussos collaborated with Michel Elefteriades on many songs which Elefteriades rearranged in an oriental fusion;[26] the project was called Demis Roussos & the Oriental Roots Orchestra.[27][28][29][30]

This project was first presented at the Mediterraneo Byblos Festival in  2001[31][32][33][34][35][36] and shortly after became an international success in the Arab world[37] 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.[38]

Health issues[edit]

For years, Roussos struggled with his weight. In June 1980 he weighed 147 kilograms (324 lb). He then began a diet in which he lost 50 kg in 10 months.[39] In 1982 he co-authored the book A Question of Weight with his close friend photographer Veronique Skawinska, in which he dealt candidly with his struggles with obesity.[40] Roussos' run of hits was not maintained in the 1980s and his output dried up as he battled with depression.[41]

1985 TWA plane hijacking[edit]

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.[42][13] 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.[43]

Death[edit]

Roussos died in the morning of 25 January 2015, 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.[44][45] 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]

Belarus 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 ..."[46]

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."[47]

Personal life[edit]

Roussos was married three[48][49][50][51] or possibly four[52][53][54] times. Roussos had a daughter, Emily, with his first wife and had a son, Cyril, with his second wife Dominique. Roussos' children are both musicians[55][56] His third wife, the American model Pamela Smith,[57] now Pamela Roussos-Rațiu (wife of the Romanian businessman Indrei Rațiu), was with him during the 1985 TWA plane hijacking incident.[58] He has 2 other children. His son was born in May 1964 and his daughter was born in September 1981. They live in Belgium. Roussos listed Mozart and Sting among his favourite composers.[43]

In popular culture[edit]

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.[59]

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

Selected discography[edit]

Roussos was a prolific recording artist, in a number of languages, and during the course of his career made at least 293 recordings including 38 albums, 154 singles and EPs, 92 compilations and one DVD.[60]

Albums[edit]

with Aphrodite's Child

(For the full Aphrodite's Child discography, see the relevant section at that article)

Solo albums
Year Album Language Peak positions
AUT
BEL
(Wa)

FR
[61]
GER
NED
NOR
UK
1971 On the Greek Side of My Mind
(also called Fire and Ice)
 –  –  –  –  –  –  –
1973 Forever and Ever 2 105*  – 1 1 1  –
1974 My Only Fascination  –  –  –  –  – 6  –
Greatest Hits  –  –  –  – 3  –  –
Auf Wiederseh'n German  –  –  –  – 7  –  –
1975 Souvenirs  –  –  –  – 13 2 25
1976 The Roussos Phenomenon EP  –  –  –  –  –  – 1
Happy to Be  –  –  –  –  –  – 4
Die Nacht und der Wein German  –  –  – 34  –  –  –
My Only Fascination  –  –  –  –  –  – 39
1977 Kyrila – Insel der Träume German  –  –  – 36  –  –  –
The Magic of Demis Roussos  –  –  –  –  –  – 29
Ainsi soit-il French  –  –  –  –  –  –  –
Los super 2 LPs Spanish  –  –  –  –  –  –  –
1978 Demis Roussos  –  –  –  –  –  –  –
Life and Love  –  –  –  –  –  – 29
1979 Universum Spanish  –  –  –  –  –  –  –
1980 Man of the World Spanish  –  –  –  – 36  –  –
Insel der Zärtlichkeit German 1  –  – 2  –  –  –
1982 Demis  –  –  –  –  –  –  –
Attitudes  –  –  –  –  –  –  –
1984 Reflection  –  –  –  –  –  –  –
1985 Senza Tempo Spanish  –  –  –  –  –  –  –
1986 Greater Tove  –  –  –  –  –  –  –
1987 The Story of...  –  –  –  – 16  –  –
Come All Ye Faithful
(Christmas album)
 –  –  –  –  –  –  –
1988 Le Grec  –  –  –  – 16  –  –
Time  –  –  –  –  –  –  –
1989 Voice and Vision  –  –  –  –  –  –  –
1993 Insight
(Also called Morning has Broken or Adagio)
 –  –  –  –  –  –  –
1995 Immortel  –  –  –  –  –  –  –
1996 Serenade  –  –  –  –  –  –  –
1997 Mon île  –  –  –  –  –  –  –
2000 Auf meinen Wegen German  –  –  –  –  –  –  –
2009 Demis  – 35 18  –  –  –  –

*Charted posthumously in 2015 after his death

Live albums
Year Album title Language Charts
1980
Roussos Live!
1995
Demis Roussos in Holland
2006
Live in Brazil
Compilation albums
Year Album Language Peak positions
AUT
BEL
(Vl)

FR
[61]
GER
NED
NOR
UK
1976 The Golden Hits  –  –  –  –  – 13  –
1982 Souvenirs - Zijn 16 grootste hits
(special Netherlands release)
 –  –  –  – 8  –  –
1992 Seine größten Erfolge 20  –  –  –  –  –  –
1995 Back to Back (joint with Vicky Leandros  – 19  –  –  –  –  –
1998 The Phenomenon 1968-1998  –  –  –  – 25  –  –
Hans beste sanger  –  –  –  –  – 4  –
De beste sanger  –  –  –  –  – 2  –
1999 Forever And Ever - 40 Greatest Hits  – 44  –  –  –  –  –
2002 Forever and Ever – Definitive Collection  –  –  –  –  –  – 17
2009 Demis Roussos Top 100  –  –  –  – 41  –  –
Songs From An Island in the Sun  –  –  –  –  – 3  –

Chart singles[edit]

Year Album Peak positions
AUT
BEL
(Vl)

FR
[61]
GER
NED
NOR
SUI
[61]
UK
[62]
US Pop
[63]
1971 "We Shall Dance"  – 9 115* 29 4  –  –  –  –
1972 "My Reason"  – 2  –  – 1  –  –  –  –
1973 "Goodbye, my love, goodbye" 2  – 98* 1  – 3 1  –  –
"Forever and Ever" 4 1 68* 26 2  –  –  –  –
"My Friend the Wind" 15 1  – 7 1  –  –  –  –
"Lovely Lady of Arcadia" (English)
"Schönes Mädchen aus Arcadia" (German)
7 1  – 6 1  – 2  –  –
1974 "Someday Somewhere" 18 1  –  – 2  –  –  –  –
"My Only Fascination"  – 11  –  – 11  –  –  –  –
"Auf Wiederseh'n"  – 19  –  – 6  –  –  –  –
1975 "Perdoname"  – 5  –  – 6  –  –  –  –
"Happy to Be on an Island in the Sun"  –  –  –  –  –  –  – 5  –
1976 "Can't Say How Much I Love You"  –  –  –  –  –  –  – 35  –
"Forever and Ever"/
The Roussos Phenomenon EP
 –  –  –  –  –  –  – 1  –
"When Forever Has Gone"  –  –  –  –  –  –  – 2  –
1977 "Because" (English) /
"Mourir auprès de mon amour" (French)
"Morir al lado de mi amor" (Spanish)
 – 26
(Fr)
135*
(Fr)
 –  –  –  – 39 (En)  –
"Kyrila"
Kyrila EP
 –  –  –  –  –  –  – 33  –
1978 "That Once in a Lifetime"  – 26 135  –  –  –  –  – 47
1980 "Lost in Love"  – 3  –  – 4  –  –  –  –
1982 "Follow Me"  – 32  –  – 27  –  –  –  –
1986 "Island of Love"  –  –  –  – 28  –  –  –  –
"Summer in Her Eyes"  –  –  –  – 32  –  –  –  –
1987 "Quand je t'aime"  –  – 3  –  –  –  –  –  –
"Rain & Tears"
(remake of Aphrodite's Child hit)
 –  – 31*  – 60  –  –  –  –
"It's Five O'Clock"
(remake of Aphrodite's Child hit)
 –  – 112*  –  –  –  –  –  –
1988 "Prier"  –  – 46  –  –  –  –  –  –
"Time"  –  –  –  – 57  –  –  –  –
1989 "On écrit sur les murs"  –  – 4  –  –  –  –  –  –

*Charted posthumously in 2015 after his death

Collaborations
Year Album Peak positions
NED
1971 "Auntie"
(Vicky Leandros, Demis Roussos,
Sandra & Andres, Enrico Macias,
Hildegard Knef & Alice Babs
4
1981 "Je t'aime, mon amour"
(Vicky Leandros & Demis Roussos)
41
1986 "Summerwine"
(Nancy Boyd & Demis Roussos)
44
Other songs (not appearing in chart table

(Selective)

  • 1974: "With You"
  • 1974: Let It Be Me"
  • 1975: "From Souvenirs to Souvenirs"
  • 1976: "Far Away"
  • 1977: "Ainsi soit-il"
  • 1978: "Loin des yeux loin du cœur"
  • 1978: "L-O-V-E (Got A Hold Of Me)"
  • 1979: "Chantez enfants du monde"
  • 1980: "I Need You"
  • 1981: "La course infinie"
  • 1982: "Au nom de l'amitié"
  • 1988: "Le Grec"

Filmography[edit]

  • 1966: Na zi kaneis i na mi zi? - a singer
  • 1969: L'homme qui venait du Cher (TV Movie)
  • 2012: A Greek Type of Problem - The Pope

References[edit]

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  3. ^ a b Roussos, Demis (1982). A question of weight. M. Laffon. p. 18. ISBN 9782868040084. I was born on the 15th of June 1946 in Alexandria, of Greek parents who had lived in Egypt for two generations. Olga, my mother, was born into a merchant family who left Greece to seek their fortune in the East. My father, Georges 
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2001). Joel Whitburn's top pop albums, 1955-2001. Record Research. p. 753. ISBN 9780898201475. ROUSSOS, Demis 78 Bom on 6/15/47 in Alexandria, Egypt (Greek parents). 
  5. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs. Barrie and Jenkins. p. 235. ISBN 9780214204807. Demis Roussos was born in Alexandria (Egypt) of Greek parents on 15 June 1947, his parents also being artistic, father a classical guitarist and engineer, mother a singer... 
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