Monday, October 13, 2008

The Musical Gifts of Demis Roussos

Demis Roussos was a singer who performed in English as well as continental European languages from the 1960's up to the present. Although he has an extensive repertoire in English, he is nowhere near as popular in America as he is overseas. In this respect, he resembles Julio Iglesias, who is a world music sensation who never hit it big in the U.S.

I has always assumed that Demis Roussos was from Greece, but he was born in 1946 in Egypt to ethnic Greek parents who had to flee in 1956 during the Suez crisis. Although his style transcends ethnic boundaries, he remains devoted to his Greek heritage and Orthodox Christian faith. The distinctive sound of bouzouki can be heard in more than a few of his songs. He got his start as the lead singer for the pop band "Aphrodite's child. His distinctive voice was a great part of the band's success. In the early seventies he split from the band and performed under his own name rather than that of Aphrodite's Child. The breakup of the band also yielded the solo career of Vangelis, who is most noted for the 1982 hit "Chariots of Fire"

Roussos has struggled with and written about a lifelong battle with obesity and also depression. It is a public service when so successful a performer inspires millions of fans who struggle with such issues out of the public spotlight.

In an odd footnote to history, Roussos was on the 1985 TWA flight 847, in which Shiite terrorists hijacked a plane to Beirut, Lebanon and murdered an American Navy diver, Robert Stethem, who was a passenger on the flight. The flight was also notable for the heroic actions of flight attendant Uli Derickson who both calmed the hijackers and hid the passports of Jews on board. The hijackers were delighted to have Demis Roussos on board, and celebrated his birthday with him during the ordeal.

The hijacking is almost an iconic representation of the twentieth century condition of enemy combatants tuned to the same radio stations , listening to the same songs and killing each other. It also shows the vast linguistic and ideological terrain in which the music of Demis Roussos can be found.

I have included three videos of Roussos. Two are in English and one is in French. The need for brevity has precluded my posting a cross section of Roussos' work in other languages. Sphere: Related Content

No comments: