I hadn’t listened to Demis Roussos for more than two decades when suddenly he appeared on my musical radar, with his warm warbling voice and endless sappy crooning about summer sea breezes, lovely maidens, and his friend the wind. Roussos’ whole aesthetic is unbelievably, unapologetically kitschy, his love songs being the equivalent of those posters of cute kittens and dewy roses that also hail from the atrocious 1970s. This photo is to me especially emblematic of the excruciating awkwardness of that time, and I cannot for the life of me understand how this was ever considered hip and happenin’ (are those tights he’s wearing? And is that a flowered sweater set?!) His music videos are equally awkward and therefore delightful to watch; sometimes the originally slim Demis is sporting what look to be space boots, later he dons those 70s caftans that only accentuate his girth and status as the father of love. At all times he has disheveled hair and that pained furrow of the brow as he belts out his feelings over lost and regained love.
Artemios Roussos was born in Alexandria on 15 June, 1946 and lived there until his family left for Greece during the Suez crisis. He and two other musicians—Loukas and Vangelis—formed the band Aphrodite’s Child, which was a success in Europe for three years before it disbanded. Roussos then struck out on his own and became a star during the 1970s, the decade during which he composed his signature and best-loved songs. Roussos, his unruly hair now much thinner, grizzled, and slicked back in a neat ponytail, continues to spin these 1970s classics, as in this concert appearance in Brazil last year.
My very favourite of his repertoire is the infectious, catchy “Far Away”, which as fans will remember begins, “There's a lucky man who’ll take you far away/far away, so very very far away/….love will show the way.” The ditty sadly doesn’t have an online presence (except as a motif in this Hisham Abbas knock-off by some Moroccan pop star, but it still captures Demis’ velvet voice and the dreamy tune).
Kitsch and all, the songs of this loveable, rotund Greek crooner are hard-wired into my musical memory; they used to waft airily through our house for what seemed like hours and hours. Listening to them now feels as though the intervening 25 years have vanished, and I’m back to imbibing his invocations of a soft-focus, make-believe, languorous world of gentle Mediterranean sea breezes undulating through perennial summers.