Monday, 26 January 2015

DEMIS ROUSSOS KNEW THAT DIETS WERE A FAT LOT OF GOOD


Goodbye Demis Roussos. The hugely charismatic Greek singer best known for his hair, his kaftans and his hits 'Forever and Ever' and 'Goodbye', has died at just sixty-eight. 

Plenty of less talented individuals sent up the fat guy for thin laughs over the years. Not least Freddie Starr, who might wish he had a voice that good. It was, is, a unique voice, loved by millions. There was depth and soul in his warble. Many will remember Demis for the theme tune to Mike Leigh's brilliant television play 'Abigail's Party'. Before we were all born, of course. As Alison Steadman famously said, 'He doesn't sound fat.'

His illness was undisclosed. As were his final measurements. What a waist. The one-time frontman - and backman, and sidesmen - of prog rock outfit Aphrodite's Children was the consummate all-rounder. 

He was born Artemios Ventouris Roussos in Egypt, to a Greek father and an Egyptian-Italian mother. A Mediterranean Greco-Italian African. With so many rich cuisines to mix and match from, little wonder that he piled on the pounds.

His was an unusual image, to say the least. But music was like that during the Sixties and Seventies. The more eccentric the disguise, the better they did. Think Gilbert O'Sullivan's bereted-and-braced waif; Leo Sayer's Pierrot. The Slade look. No one gave a toss whether the image hindered or helped. It was usually little more than something to hide behind, for performers who might not have had the nerve to do it otherwise. After his appearance on my favourite kids' TV show, Basil Brush, he became known as the Kaftan King. He sold sixty million records around the world. Not to be scoffed at. Few modern artists sell in the millions today. 

Demis once published a book about obesity. He needn't have bothered. He'd already invented the answer to it: fling on a bigger dress.


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