Entertainment

Demis Roussos, Greek singer of Forever and Ever, dead at 68

Greek singer Demis Roussos, former member of Aphrodite's Child, has died in Athens at the age of 68, a hospital confirmed Monday.

Artist sold more than 60 million albums worldwide after shooting to fame in the 1960s

Singer Demis Roussos, seen here performing on stage in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in 2012, has died. He is remembered for recording such hits as Forever and Ever, My Friend The Wind, and Someday Somewhere. (Yves Forestier/Getty Images)

Greek singer Demis Roussos, whose often high-pitched pop serenades won him household recognition in the 1970s and 1980s across Europe and beyond and who sold more than 60 million records, has died in Athens at the age of 68, a hospital confirmed Monday.

The hospital said the singer died following a lengthy hospitalization, but did not give an exact cause of death.

For many an iconic presence with a colourful dress sense — Roussos was once dubbed the Kaftan King — and rotund, bearded appearance, he enjoyed the respect of his colleagues and a steady global following.

In Aphrodite's Child with Vangelis

"He had a superb voice, he travelled in the world ... he loved what he was doing," singer Nana Mouskouri told French radio RTL in a tribute. "He was an artist, a friend. I hope he is in a better world."

Demis Roussos arrives in London on April 10, 1974. The renowned Greek singer was a household name in the 1970s and 1980s across Europe and beyond. (The Associated Press)
Artemis (shortened to Demis) Roussos was born in June 1946 in Alexandria, Egypt, which had a large Greek community. His formative years in the ancient 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 and played in amateur groups. 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 EverMy Friend The WindVelvet MorningsSomeday Somewhere, and Lovely Lady Of Arcadia.

He listed Mozart and Sting among his favourite composers.

Hostage on TWA Flight 847

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. He was released unharmed five days later, and at a press conference thanked his captors for giving him a birthday cake.

Roussos enjoyed good food, which created problems with his weight that at one point reached 319 pounds (145 kilograms). He managed to reduce that by a third in nine months and went on to co-write a book about losing weight.

He lived in Los Angeles, Paris, Monte Carlo, London and Athens.

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