Stelios Kazantzidis, music legend, dies

One of Greece’s legendary popular singers, Stelios Kazantzidis, whose career spanned five decades, died at the Athens Medical Center yesterday after struggling with cancer in recent months. He was 70. Our authentic popular culture has lost an important representative, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said. If the soul had a voice, it would be that of Stelios Kazantzidis. Condolences poured in from politicians, artists and labor groups. Kazantzidis became popular in the 1950s and 1960s for his songs that recounted the sorrows of the country’s working classes. For the hundreds of thousands of Greeks who emigrated to distant lands in search of work after World War II and the ensuing four-year civil war, Kazantzidis’s material served as a connection to their homeland. A son of immigrants from Asia Minor, Kazantzidis emerged in the early 1950s, quickly establishing himself on the strength of an emotional vocal delivery. But the passion often spilled over into real life and led to feuds with both music industry officials and colleagues. His funeral service will be held this afternoon, at the Aghios Georgios Church in Elefsina.

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