On this day in 1980, Nikos Xylouris passed away

Nikos Xylouris

Nikos Xylouris (Νίκος Ξυλούρης), nicknamed Psaronikos (Ψαρονίκος) was one of the most talented voices and composers of Cretan music.

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Born on the 7th of July 1936, in the village of Anogeia in Crete, he was the older brother of two other great musicians of Cretan music, Antonis and Yiannis Xylouris.

Nikos acquired his first lyra at the age of twelve and displayed the potential to play local folk music. At the age of seventeen, he started performing at the Kastro folk music restaurant in Heraklion.

In 1966, Nikos first performed outside Greece and won the first prize in the San Remo folk music festival. In 1967 he established the first Cretan Music Hall, Erotokritos, in Heraklion.

The recording of his song 'Anyfantou' in 1969 started his journey to the top, and soon after he began performances in Athens at the Konaki folk music hall, which became his new permanent residence.

Nikos was also a part of the movement that brought down the Greek military Junta of 1967. His songs and music captured and described the Greek psyche and demeanour, earning him the title of 'Archangel of Crete'.

During the early 1970s, Xylouris' distinctive voice became identified not only with Cretan music but also with the new kind of artistic popular music that emerged, as well-known composers such as Giannis Markopoulos, Stavros Xarhakos, Christodoulos Halaris, and Christos Leontis wrote music on the verses of famous Greek poets including Yannis Ritsos, Giorgos Seferis and Dionysios Solomos.

In 1971, Nikos was awarded by the Academy of Charles Cross of France for his performance in the Cretan Rizitika songs album with Giannis Markopoulos.

Nikos Xylouris passed away on February 8th, 1980 from a brain tumour, leaving behind his wife Ourania, the daughter of a prosperous family of Heraklion and his two children- his son Yiorgos and daughter Rinio. He is buried in the First Cemetery of Athens.