Demis Roussos born 15 June 1946 (2024)

Demis Roussos born 15 June 1946 (1)

Artemios "Demis" Ventouris-Roussos (15 June 1946 –25 January 2015) was a Greek singer, songwriter and musician. As a band member,he is best remembered for his work in the progressive rock music actAphrodite's Child, but as a vocal soloist, his repertoire included hit songslike "Goodbye, My Love, Goodbye", "From Souvenirs toSouvenirs" and "Forever and Ever". He sold over 60 millionalbums worldwide.

Demis Roussos born 15 June 1946 (2)

He was born in Alexandria, Egypt, to George Roussos andNelly Mazloum. His father, a civil engineer with a construction company, was ofGreek extraction and his mother was of Egyptian and Italian origin. Demis’svocal abilities were recognised at an early age and he became a soloist withthe choir of the Greek Orthodox church in Alexandria. He also took up theguitar and trumpet.

Demis Roussos born 15 June 1946 (3)

Increasing xenophobia in Egypt led his family to emigrate toAthens in 1961. There Demis took up the bass guitar and as a teenager sang andplayed in a series of pop groups including the Idols and We Five. Among hisfellow performers were the keyboards player Evangelos Papathanassiou (akaVangelis) and the drummer Loukas Sideras, with whom he formed Aphrodite’s Childin 1967.

The trio decided that they needed to get closer to thecentre of the international music industry and set off for London.Unfortunately, they were turned back at Dover due to visa problems. Retreatingto Paris, they were able to audition successfully for executives at the Philipsrecord company. Their first recording sessions were delayed by the generalstrike of May 1968 but later that year, Rain and Tears by Aphrodite’s Child wasissued across Europe. Composed by Vangelis and the French lyricist BorisBergman, and featuring Roussos’s unusual high tenor, the song was only a minorhit in Britain but created a sensation in many other countries.

Demis Roussos born 15 June 1946 (4)

Aphrodite’s Child had more hit singles in continental Europeand went on to record the album 666 (made in 1970 but released in 1972), basedon religious texts from the apocalypse of St John, but soon afterwardsVangelis’s ambition to create film music caused the group to split up. He andRoussos would occasionally collaborate in later years, notably in 1981 whenRoussos sang Race to the End, a vocal version of Vangelis’s theme from Chariotsof Fire, with lyrics by Jon Anderson of the progressive rock band Yes.

Demis Roussos born 15 June 1946 (5)

Roussos embarked on a solo career with the album Fire andIce (1971), whose first single We Shall Dance was a summer hit across Europe,though not in Britain. In 1972 he toured Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Germanyand Greece. The following year he went to South America. Although Roussos songswere generally written in English, usually by the Athens-born Lakis Vlavianos,he often rerecorded them in French, German and Spanish, and even, on oneoccasion, in Japanese. Roussos’ love for kaftans saw him named “the KaftanKing” and he often wore them for his performances.

Demis Roussos born 15 June 1946 (6)

In 1973, Roussos released Forever and Ever, which became hisfirst British hit record after widespread television appearances, including onthe Nana Mouskouri Show and the children’s show the Basil Brush Show. In 1976 aBBC TV documentary, The Roussos Phenomenon, produced by John King, kindledfurther interest in the singer. Philips issued a four-song record of the samename (including a version of Forever and Ever), which became the first EP totop the British singles chart. A few months later, the single When Forever HasGone was only kept from achieving the same position by Abba’s Dancing Queen.

Demis Roussos born 15 June 1946 (7)

Critics had often remarked on Roussos’s weight and by theend of the 1970s, when he weighed nearly 150kg (about 23st 9lb), Roussos hadbecome concerned. After trying several diets, he found one that helped him lose50kg in 10 months. In 1982, he described this process in the book A Question ofWeight.

In 1985, Roussos was travelling on TWA Flight 847 fromAthens to Rome, when it was hijacked by Hezbollah terrorists and flown toBeirut. Most of the passengers were held hostage for 17 days but Roussos andother Greek citizens on board were released after five. Although his popularityin Britain declined from its 70s peak, Roussos continued to record and performround the world until shortly before his death.

Demis Roussos born 15 June 1946 (8)

Roussos died in the morning of 25 January 2015, from stomachcancer, pancreatic cancer, and liver cancer while hospitalised at YgeiaHospital in Athens, Greece. He had been in the private hospital for some time,and died surrounded by his family at the age of 68.His funeral was held at the First Cemeteryof Athens, the burial place of many Greek politicians and cultural figures.

(Edited from obit by Dave Laing @ TheGuardian & Wikipedia)

Demis Roussos born 15 June 1946 (2024)

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