CULTURE

Force behind Greek music powerhouse Columbia records dies, aged 91

force-behind-greek-music-powerhouse-columbia-records-dies-aged-91

Record producer Takis Lambropoulos, credited with revolutionizing the Greek music industry in the 1960s and 70s from the helm of the Columbia Gramophone Company Greece, has died at the age of 91, it was announced on Friday.

Born in 1930 into a family of self-made entrepreneurs, Lambropoulos took over at the helm of Columbia Greece in 1958, bringing a whole new level of sophistication to the local industry.

Among his boldest moves was the idea to invite artists from different genres to contribute to his great experiment, including pre-eminent poets such as Yiannis Ritsos, Giorgos Seferis and Nikos Gatsos, hired to pen songs for new talent being signed onto the label – legends Mikis Theodorakis, Manos Hadjidakis and Stavros Xarchakos being among them.

He also invited famous local actors like Aliki Vougiouklaki, Elli Lambeti, Dimitris Horn and Melina Mercouri to get their voices stamped on vinyl, while commissioning renowned visual artists to design the label’s iconic album covers, which included work by Yiannis Tsarouchis, Yiannis Moralis and Nikos Engonopoulos, to name a few.

Lambropoulos is further credited with the revival of rebetiko and art-house “entechno” folk during the 1960s and 70s, choosing rebetiko master Grigoris Bithikotsis’ “Synnefiasmeni kyriaki” (Cloudy Sunday) as the label’s opening tune when he introduced half-hour live music sessions on Greece’s public radio for the first time.

He was also reportedly a staunch supporter of freedom of expression, defending the label’s artists during the 1967-1974 military dictatorship.

Columbia Gramophone Company Greece was established in 1930 by the local subsidiary of EMI and Lambropoulos Bros. Ltd., in the northern Athens suburb of Rizoupoli. It shut down in 1983 after having recorded an estimated 200,000 songs, according to the music research website Amnesiac Archive.

The site of the recording company in Rizoupoli was shut down for good in 1991 and has since fallen into ruin.