Demis Roussos

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Demis Roussos
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 hailed 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 would appear 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 remarkably 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 religious texts from the Apocalypse of St John, 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 (although the album has also been disputably 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. 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.[13] 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.[14] He was equally successful across Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Japan.[15]

In 1973, Roussos made one of his earliest television appearances on The Basil Brush Show[16] and also appeared on Nana Mouskouri's TV show in the UK.[14] In 1980, he had a hit with a cover of Air Supply's "Lost in Love",[17] sung as a duet with Florence Warner.[18]

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.[19]

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".[20]

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,[13] although his voice was noted to have changed with "the trilling vibrato having evolved into a husky, and at times guttural, whisper."[21] 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.[14]

In 2006, he released Demis Roussos - Live in Brasil,[22] almost thirty years after "Você Você e Nada Mais", a Portuguese hit in 1977.[23] 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.[24][25]

Roussos staged a comeback in 2009, wherein he recorded his final studio album, Demis, produced by Marc di Domenico, released on May 11.[26]

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.[27] 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.[28] Roussos' run of hits was not maintained in the 1980s and his output dried up as he battled clinical depression.[29]

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.[30][14] 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.[31]

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.[32][33] 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 ..."[34]

Roussos' funeral is due to be held at the First Cemetery of Athens, the burial place of many Greek politicians and cultural figures, on 30 January at 12 noon.[35]

Personal life[edit]

Roussos was married three[36][37][38][39] or possibly four[40][41][42] times. Roussos's first wife Monica gave him a daughter, Emily, and his second wife Dominique, bore him a son Cyril. Roussos' children are both musicians[43][44] His third wife, the American model Pamela Smith,[45] now Pamela Roussos-Rațiu (wife of the Romanian businessman Indrei Rațiu), was with him during the 1985 TWA plane hijacking incident.[46]

Roussos listed Mozart and Sting among his favourite composers.[31]

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.[47]

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

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

with Aphrodite's Child

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

Solo albums

Chart singles[edit]

(in US and UK)

Year Single Chart Positions
US Pop[48] UK[49]
1975 "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" - 39
"Kyrila"
Kyrila EP
- 33
1978 "That Once in a Lifetime" 47 -
Songs

(Selective)

  • 1971 : "We Shall Dance”
  • 1972 : "My Reason”
  • 1973 : "Forever and Ever
  • 1973 : "My Friend the Wind”
  • 1973 : "Good-Bye My Love, Good-Bye”
  • 1973 : "Someday Somewhere”
  • 1974 : "My Only Fascination”
  • 1974 : "With You”
  • 1975 : "From Souvenirs to Souvenirs”
  • 1977 : "Mourir auprès de mon amour”
  • 1977 : "Ainsi soit-il”
  • 1978 : "Loin des yeux loin du cœur”
  • 1979 : "Chantez enfants du monde”
  • 1980 : "I Need You”
  • 1981 : "La course infinie”
  • 1982 : "Au nom de l'amitié”
  • 1983 : "Follow Me”
  • 1986 : "Island of Love”
  • 1987 : "Quand je t’aime”
  • 1988 : "Le Grec”
  • 1988 : "Time”
  • 1989 : "On écrit sur les murs”

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]

  1. ^ a b "BBC News - Greek singer Demis Roussos dies aged 68". BBC News. Retrieved 26 January 2015. 
  2. ^ "Demis Roussos, singer - obituary". The Telegraph. 26 January 2015. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  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... 
  6. ^ a b Walker, Peter (26 January 2015). "Demis Roussos, Greek singer of Forever and Ever, dies aged 68". The Guardian'. Retrieved 26 January 2015. 
  7. ^ Metwaly, Ali (26 January 2015). "Egypt-born Greek singer Demis Roussos dies at 68". Al-Ahram. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  8. ^ Los Angeles Times (28 January 2015). "Demis Roussos dies at 68; popular Greek singer had a global following". latimes.com. Retrieved 29 January 2015. 
  9. ^ Injy El-Kashef (2003-06-25). "Al-Ahram Weekly | Living | Mambo Egyptiano". Weekly.ahram.org.eg. Retrieved 2011-07-21. 
  10. ^ "Greek singer Demis Roussos dead at 68". Reuters. Retrieved 26 January 2015. 
  11. ^ a b c Dave Laing. "Demis Roussos obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 January 2015. 
  12. ^ a b Zikakou, Ioanna (26 January 2015). "Famous Greek Singer Demis Roussos Dies at 68". Greek Reporter. Retrieved 26 January 2015. 
  13. ^ a b "Demis Roussos, singer - obituary". The Telegraph. 26 January 2015. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  14. ^ a b c d Laing, Dave (26 January 2015). "Demis Roussos obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  15. ^ Tsioulcas, Anastasia (26 January 2015). "From Prog-Rock Pioneer To Kitsch King: Remembering Demis Roussos". WWNO. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  16. ^ "Greek Singer Demis Roussos Dies Aged 68". Sky News. 26 January 2015. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  17. ^ (Italian) Brighenti, Flavio (26 January 2015). "È morto Demis Roussos, fu il cantante degli Aphrodite's Child". la Repubblica. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  18. ^ (Spanish) Manrique, Diego A. (26 January 2015). "El cantante Demis Roussos muere a los 68 años en Atenas". El País. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  19. ^ (German) "Aphrodite's Child: Demis Roussos ist tot". Spiegel Online. 26 January 2015. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  20. ^ (Greek) "H συναρπαστική ζωή του Ντέμη Ρούσσου: Πούλησε εκατομμύρια δίσκους, πάλεψε με την κατάθλιψη και βρέθηκε όμηρος σε αεροπειρατεία". Huffington Post Greece. 26 January 2015. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  21. ^ [1]
  22. ^ (Portuguese) "Cantor grego Demis Roussos morre aos 68 anos". Tribuna do Norte. 26 January 2015. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  23. ^ (Portuguese) Lopes, Mário (26 January 2015). "Morreu Demis Roussos, o cantor que ajudou a criar a banda-sonora dos anos 1970". Público. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  24. ^ (French) "Demis Roussos est mort". Libération. 26 January 2015. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  25. ^ (French) Bellery, Steven (6 January 2012). ""Age tendre et tête de bois" en tournée symphonique !". Charts in France. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  26. ^ Chilton, Martin (26 January 2015). "Demis Roussos, the celebrated Greek singer, dies aged 68". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  27. ^ André BELLOT. "Aphrodite's Child". Demislegrec.com. Retrieved 2011-07-21. 
  28. ^ (Spanish) "Muere el cantante griego Demis Roussos". El Universal. 26 January 2015. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  29. ^ (Danish) Lykke, Allan (26 January 2015). "Demis Roussos er død". Ekstra Bladet. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  30. ^ "Key Points in the Hijack of TWA Flight 847". www.apnewsarchive.com. Retrieved 13 November 2013. 
  31. ^ a b "'He had a superb voice' - tributes paid to Greek singer Demis Roussos". One News. TVNZ. Retrieved 29 January 2015. 
  32. ^ "Πέθανε ο Ντέμης Ρούσσος - Τα μηνύματα του Αλιάγα στο Twitter (Demis Roussos died - The messages of Nikos Aliagas on Twitter" (in Greek). www.iefimerida.gr. Retrieved 26 January 2015. 
  33. ^ Zikakou, Ioanna (26 January 2015). "Famous Greek Singer Demis Roussos Dies at 68". GreekReporter.com. Retrieved 26 January 2015. 
  34. ^ "Lukashenko extends condolences over death of Demis Roussos". belta.by. Retrieved 29 January 2015. 
  35. ^ "Greek singing legend Demis Roussos dies aged 68". aljazeera.com. Retrieved 26 January 2015. 
  36. ^ "Demis Roussos: Singer who began as a prog-rocker then achieved massive solo success with his brand of sunkissed easy listening". The Independent. 
  37. ^ Alina Butu. "Famous Greek singer Demis Roussos dies at 68". The Romania Journal. 
  38. ^ "Демис Руссос (Demis Roussos), : фото, биография, фильмография, новости — Вокруг ТВ.". vokrug.tv (in Russian). 
  39. ^ "Как Демис Руссос был заложником". aif.ru (in Russian). Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  40. ^ "Demis Roussos obituary: pop's portly Pavarotti". (subscription required (help)). 
  41. ^ "Скончался знаменитый певец Демис Руссос" (in Russian). 
  42. ^ "Ушел из жизни Демис Руссос" (in Russian). 
  43. ^ Dave Laing. "Demis Roussos obituary". The Guardian. 
  44. ^ "BBC News - Greek singer Demis Roussos dies aged 68". BBC News. 
  45. ^ "Чем запомнился Демис Руссос?". aif.ru (in Russian). 
  46. ^ FOTO Ostatici într-un avion deturnat de Hezbollah: viaţa de film a Pamelei Raţiu alături de fostul soţ, Demis Roussos, Adevărul, (Romanian)
  47. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - PM, 26/01/2015". BBC. Retrieved 26 January 2015. 
  48. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 608. ISBN 0-89820-155-1. 
  49. ^ Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952-2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. p. 663. ISBN 0-00-717931-6. 

External links[edit]