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Timestamp: 20131207111107 11:11, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
17 September 1941|
|Died||27 January 2001
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Stavros, an orphan from the age of five, was forced to work to feed a family of eight. His last memory of his father Kosmas Damianides, he recalls, was walking behind him and placing his own feet in his muddy footprints. Stavros was brought up in a village in Greece (Milea Aridea). He worked incrdibly hard and went through great hardships. At a time that bouzouki playing was of ill repute, normally restricted to the underground slums, Stavros could not resist learning how to play the bouzouki purely out of interest and love for music. The bouzouki soon became very popular worldwide and was recognised as Greece's national musical instrument.
At the age of 8 Stavros made his first bouzouki out of an old tin can and secretly taught himself how to play. When his hidden talent was revealed, he was very popular amongst his friends and neighbours. He was employed to play bouzouki at their baptisms, weddings and other feasts and festivals. When older, he would afford to buy his very own bouzouki and he would travel to other towns and villages in his community.
After serving in the Hellenic Army, he embarked on a professional musical career, touring around the Mediterranean Sea and playing with popular Greek artists such as Stathis Kazantzidis, Trio Bel Canto, Sotiria Bellou, Spiros Zagoreos, Giota Lidia and many such rising stars.
After touring Greece, Yugoslavia, Cyprus, the Middle East, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt, Stavros then migrated to Australia in the late 1960s on the RHMS Patris, due to his wish of establishing himself there, but his obligations to his family led him elsewhere and so Stavros laid his career aside temporarily. However, he was later actively playing in live venues in Tasmania, Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Darwin and finally Perth, the place he called home.
Through this brave move to Australia, the talented Stavros brought a renewed bouzouki-playing culture with him. Considered to be one of the best bouzouki players to set foot in Australia, Stavros quickly made a name for himself. He was offered business and music contracts with popular Australian record companies including Virgin, EMI, ABC but he declined. His choice not to record was centered on the values of traditional artists who feel their work is an experience for people to enjoy. If he talked with his bouzouki then it wasn't a monologue it was a dialogue between him and his audience. When asked why he enjoyed playing, Stavros would respond "My greatest reward is to see people enjoying themselves when I play".
Stavros, like many other great Australian bouzouki players in Australia, never produced any records or albums but preferred to play for enjoyment and good company. He was admired by many musicians and he inspired many Bouzouki players in Western Australia and in other Australian states. The humble Stavros was a mentor to many Greek Bouzouki players who sought to break away from mainstream styles. Stavros enjoyed the family orientated lifestyle, and often refused to play if the atmosphere was not family friendly.
After travelling to Greece and all of Australia, Lucas Lucas offered Stavros a restaurant partnership with the Lucas Brothers in Perth. Stavros moved to Perth, Western Australia and was immediately noticed there for his exceptional skills. He would from that point onward consider Perth his home.
Stavros was also a teacher of bouzouki. He had only a few students who have become very skilled in bouzouki playing. Stavros has written many songs and poems, most of which have yet to be published. Stavros was often called the Jimi Hendrix of Greek bouzouki due to his brilliant theatrical techniques.
Stavros introduced to Australian music the Greek and Middle Eastern rhythms and scales called dromous. The dromo is a stepped scale pattern that varies in notes according to the rhythm making it possible to have multiple dromous of the same key but distinctly different in sound. This dromo is an ancient Greek view on how music should be played and was one of the things he taught in his classes as well as playing live. Various contemporary songs and bands produced in Australia borrowed and were inspired by his highly active live performance career.
Aside from being a musician he was also responsible for contributing to the formation of a small Greek community group in Perth and for his leading role as one of the original seven members of the Pontian Brotherhood of Saint George Western Australia. The community brought together Anatolian Greeks in general and Pontic Greeks in particular which served to keep alive various aspects of ancient Greek Culture and Music whilst still preserving the Christian ethos and values of the Greek Orthodox Church. The Pontian Brotherhood flourished under his presidency (1988–2001) and later grew to include over five hundred members.
Stavros died suddenly of a massive heart-attack in January 2001 at the age of 59. He was buried in Karrakatta Cemetery in Perth.
Sourced from Australian Walkabout Magazine 1969 and miscellaneous newspaper excerpts.