Artemios “Demis” Ventouris-Roussos (Greek: Αρτέμιος “Ντέμης” Βεντούρης-Ρούσσος, 15 June 1946 – 25 January 2015) was aGreek singer and performer who had international hit records as a solo performer in the 1970s after having been a member ofAphrodite’s Child, a progressive rock group that also included Vangelis.
Roussos was born and raised in Alexandria, Egypt, in a Greek family where his father George (Yorgos Roussos) was a classical guitarist and an engineer and his mother Olga was a singer; her family originally came from Greece. As a child, he studied music and joined the Greek Church byzantine choir in Alexandria. His formative years in the ancient port city’s cosmopolitan atmosphere were influenced by jazz, but also traditional Arab and Greek Orthodox music. His parents lost their possessions during the Suez Crisis and consequently decided to move to Greece.
Early musical career
After settling in Greece, Roussos participated in a series of musical groups beginning with The Idols when he was 17, where he met Evangelos Papathanassiou (later known as Vangelis) and Loukas Sideras, his future bandmates in Aphrodite’s Child. After this he joined the Athens band, We Five, another cover band which had limited success in Greece.
Roussos came to a wider audience in 1967 when he joined progressive rock band Aphrodite’s Child, with Vangelis and Loukas Sideras, initially as a singer but later also playing bass guitar, achieving commercial success in France and other parts of Europe from 1968 to 1972. They set off for London to break into the international music scene but were turned back at Dover due to visa problems. They retreated to Paris where they decided to stay, signing a record deal there with Philips Records. Their first recording sessions were delayed by the general strike of May 1968 but later the same year the song “Rain and Tears” was issued across Europe. the song appeared on the album End of the World in October. Composed by Vangelis and the French lyricist Boris Bergman, the song featured Roussos’s unusualhigh tenor, The song was only a minor hit in Britain but was successful in many other countries. Roussos’s operatic vocal style helped propel the band to international success, notably on their final album 666, based on passages from the Book of Revelation, which became a progressive rock cult classic.
After Aphrodite’s Child disbanded, Roussos continued to record sporadically with his former bandmate Vangelis. In 1970 the two released the film score album Sex Power (the album has also been credited to Aphrodite’s Child) and also recorded the 1977 album Magic together. Their most successful collaboration was “Race to the End” (also sung in Spanish as “Tu Libertad”), a vocal adaptation of the musical theme from the Oscar winning film Chariots of Fire, while Roussos also guested on the soundtrack to Blade Runner(1982), with a song entitled “Tales of the Future”.
Roussos in Baku, 2013
|Birth name||Artemios Ventouris-Roussos|
|Born||15 June 1946
|Died||25 January 2015 (aged 68)
|Genres||Pop, world music, pop-folk, soft rock, progressive rock|
|Occupation(s)||Vocalist, bass guitarist,guitarist, trumpeter|
|Instruments||Fender Precision Bass|
|Associated acts||Aphrodite’s Child, Vangelis, The Idols|
Roussos also began a solo career with the song “We Shall Dance” in 1971, which was a top ten hit in both the Netherlands and Belgium. Initially unsuccessful, he toured around Europe and became a leading artist. His solo career peaked in the mid 1970s with several hit albums. His single “Forever and Ever” topped the charts in several countries in 1973. It was No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart in 1976. Other hits by Roussos included; “My Friend the Wind”, “My Reason”, “Velvet Mornings”, “Goodbye My Love, Goodbye”, “Someday Somewhere” and “Lovely Lady of Arcadia”. His first UK single to chart was in 1975: “Happy to Be on an Island in the Sun” written by an Englishman David Lewis with the record reaching No. 5 on the charts. His popularity in the rest of Europe, but not the UK, came to fascinate BBC TV producer John King who made a documentary entitled “The Roussos Phenomenon” in 1976. Philips Records released a four-song record of the same name, which was the first extended play to top the UK singles chart. He was equally successful across Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Japan.
In 1973, Roussos made one of his earliest television appearances on The Basil Brush Show and also appeared on Nana Mouskouri‘s TV show in the UK. In 1978 he had his only disco hit titled “L-O-V-E (Got A Hold Of Me)” in 1978. In 1980, he had a hit with a cover of Air Supply‘s “Lost in Love”, sung as a duet with Florence Warner.
In 1989, he recorded the song “Young Love”, a duet with German singer and songwriter Drafi Deutscher, which was released as a single in Germany and reached No. 2 on the German music TV show ZDF-Hitparade in October that year.
The 1990s saw even more substantial releases by Roussos. In 1993, he released “Insight” (also called “Morning Has Broken”) to general acclaim. After that he teamed up with BR Music in the Netherlands to produce “Immortel”, “Serenade” and “In Holland”.
Roussos continued to record and tour. In 2002 he toured England when a “best of” collection he made, Forever and Ever, reached no. 17 on the UK Albums Chart, although his voice was noted to have changed with “the trilling vibrato having evolved into a husky, and at times guttural, whisper.”
In more recent years he appeared in Russia and the United Arab Emirates. A committed follower of the Greek Orthodox faith, he sang as a guest in a number of churches in Greece and worldwide, including France.
In 2006, he released Demis Roussos – Live in Brasil, almost thirty years after “Você Você e Nada Mais”, a Portuguese hit in 1977.From 2006 to 2008, he was part of the Âge Tendre et Têtes de Bois tour, a series of concerts featuring French singers from the 1960s and 1970s.
Just one month before his death, Roussos selected the tracks for an official CD compilation of his life’s work, including notes by his two children Emily and Cyril. The CD, Demis Roussos Collected, was released in March 2015.It became a number one album in the Belgian album charts and reached number 61 in Holland.
Demis Roussos collaborated with Michel Elefteriades on many songs which Elefteriades rearranged in an oriental fusion; the project was called Demis Roussos & the Oriental Roots Orchestra.
This project was first presented at the Mediterraneo Byblos Festival in 2001 and shortly after became an international success in the Arab world later being staged again in Egypt and Qatar.
Elefteriades also composed, wrote and arranged the song “The Beast” for Roussos and directed the video for it.
1985 TWA plane hijacking
In June 1985, Roussos was among the passengers of TWA Flight 847 from Athens to Rome, which was hijacked, by members of Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, but he was released along with four other Greeks after five days while most of the other hostages remained there for 17 days. He spent his 39th birthday on the plane and when released unharmed, thanked his captors, at a press conference, for giving him a birthday cake.