Probably the world’s most famous Greek singer, Demis Roussos, has died at the age of 68.
He was born Artemios Ventouris Roussos in Alexandria in Egypt on June 15, 1946. His father was Greek and his mother was Egyptian of Italian origin and both his parents lost their possessions during the Suez Crisis and consequently decided to move to Greece.
After settling in Greece, he participated in a series of musical groups beginning with The Idols when he was 17, where he met Evangelos Papathanassiou (later known as Vangelis); in 1967 they formed Aphrodite’s Child, a tongue-in-cheek name which referred to the children of the Greek goddess of Love desire and procreation. They completed with the line up with Loukas Sideras on drums and guitarist Anargyros Koulouris. Their most successful collaboration was Race to the End, which was also sung in Spanish as Tu Libertad.
They split in 1972 and Demis began a solo career which began with the UK top five hit Happy to be On an Island in the Sun. Seven months later he achieved the first ever chart-topping EP in the singles chart with the lead track being Forever and Ever and in total sold over 60 million albums worldwide. His last UK hit was Kyrila in the summer of 1977.
Because he struggled with his weight, in June 1980 Demis, when he weighed 23 stone (147kg), began a diet where he succeeded in losing over seven stone in 10 months. A couple of years later he co-wrote the book A Question of Weight with his friend Veronique Skawinska, where he wrote openly about his struggle with obesity and later clinical depression.
In June of 1985 his name was in the paper again when he was one of the hostages during the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 en route from Athens to Rome.
He returned to performing and became an orthodox follower of the Greek faith leading him to make personal appearances at various churches around the world. His last album was recorded in 2009.
He died on Saturday night, the 24th January at the Ygeia Hospital in Athens but the cause of death was not given at the time of writing.