On this day, January 25, 2015- Demis Roussos dies aged 68

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Artemios “Demis” Ventouris-Roussos was born 15 June 1946 and died in Athens on the 25th January, 2015 aged 68.

The 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.

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Roussos was born and raised in Alexandria, Egypt in a Greek family. His father George (Yorgos Roussos) was a classical guitarist and an engineer and his mother Olga was a singer; her family also originally came from Greece. As a child, he studied music and joined the Greek Church Byzantine choir in Alexandria. His formative years in the ancient port city’s cosmopolitan atmosphere were influenced by jazz but also traditional Arab and Greek Orthodox music. His parents lost their possessions during the Suez Crisis  and consequently moved to Greece.

Roussos was best known for his solo hits in the 1970s and 80s, including Forever and Ever, Goodbye and Quand je t’aime.  Roussos was also well known for his off-screen role in Mike Leigh’s 1977 TV play Abigail’s Party, having provided the party’s soundtrack.

Other solo hits include My Friend the Wind, My Reason, Someday Somewhere and Happy To Be On An Island In The Sun.

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Roussos’ love for kaftans saw him named “the Kaftan King” and he often wore them for his performances. He was also famous for his vocal adaptation of the score from the 1981 film Chariots of Fire, which had been composed by Vangelis.

In 1978, he decided to keep a lower profile and moved to Malibu Beach in the US – where he lost much of the weight that had seen him routinely mocked by comedians.

He was caught up in a plane hijacking when flight TWA 847 from Athens to Rome was hijacked by members of Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad in 1985.

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He and his third wife were held at gunpoint for five days before they were released. The traumatic experience changed his life and afterwards he decided the best way he could help others and promote understanding in the world was by returning to music.

He released his album The Story of Demis Roussos not long after.

Roussos had been in a private hospital in Athens with an undisclosed illness for some time, and died surrounded by his family.