Before there was Anna Vissi and George Dalaras with their multi-platinum records— there was Demis Roussos— known and loved by millions of global adoring fans in the 1970s and perhaps, one of the biggest Greek musical exports ever in history. Roussos passed away on January 25th at the age of 68.
Artemios “Demis” Ventouris Roussos was born in Alexandria, Egypt to a Greek father and an Egyptian mother of Italian origin. The family was uprooted to Greece when they lost most all of their property in the Suez Crisis.
Roussos was a member of various musical groups including Aphrodite’s Child, the progressive rock and roll band that once also included Vangelis Papathanasiou (Chariots of Fire). He went solo in the early 1970s and became a European sensation, selling millions of albums— some estimates put the figure at 90 million— over the course of the next decade.
His solo career peaked in the mid 1970s with several hit records. His single “Forever And Ever” topped the charts in several countries in 1973 (1976 in U.K.). Other hits were “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 in 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 which he called ‘The Roussos Phenomenon’ in 1976. The program was aired and Roussos’ scored a number one chart selling record of the same title and with three back catalog albums entering the UK charts years after their success elsewhere in Europe.