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Greek singer Demis Roussos dies at 68

Greek singing star Demis Roussos, who had a string of hits in the 1970s and whose flamboyant style inspired satirists, has died aged 68.

Roussos, with his flowing locks and a trademark kaftan covering a generous waistband, had six Top 40 hits in two years in the 1970s including a No1 with an EP featuring his most famous track, Forever And Ever.

He was a regular target for parody, with comics including Freddie Starr taking aim at him, but was immortalised for many in the Mike Leigh TV play, Abigail's Party.

The scene where Alison Steadman's character expressed her devotion to Roussos who she says "doesn't sound" fat is regularly replayed.

Roussos, who died in Athens, said his success in the UK was down to the rise of foreign holidays.

"The reason for my big success in England was the Brits - they started wanting to go on holidays, like Spain and Greece," he said.

"My music came right on time. It was romantic Mediterranean music addressed to all the people who wanted to go on holiday."

HOSTAGE

Artemis (shortened to Demis) Roussos was born in Alexandria, which had a large Greek community. His formative years in the port city's cosmopolitan atmosphere were influenced by jazz, but also traditional Arab and Greek Orthodox music.

The family moved in the early 1960s to Greece, where Roussos took music lessons.

He first came to prominence in the late 1960s with the band Aphrodite's Child, formed together with Vangelis Papathanassiou, the Greek composer best known by his first name whose score for the film Chariots of Fire won him an Oscar in 1982.

His career launched, Roussos moved out of Greece to continue as a solo artist, recording hits such as Forever and Ever, My Friend The Wind, Velvet Mornings, Someday Somewhere and Lovely Lady Of Arcadia.

In 1985, Roussos was among 153 people taken hostage when two Shiite Muslim militiamen hijacked a TWA Boeing 727 on a flight from Athens to Rome, and he spent his 39th birthday on the plane.

Roussos enjoyed good food, which created problems with his weight which at one point reached 23 stones. He managed to reduce that by a third in nine months and went on to co-write a book about losing weight.

hnews@herald.ie


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