Artemios "Demis" Ventouris Roussos
(Greek: ?t?µ?? ???ss??, born June 15, 1946) is a Greek singer and performer who had a string of international hit records as a solo performer in the 1970s after having been a member of Aphrodite's Child, a progressive rock group that also included the well renowned Vangelis. He has sold over 60 million albums worldwide.Roussos was born and raised in Alexandria, Egypt, in a family where both father George (engineer Yorgos Roussos) and mother Olga were of Greek origin. His parents lost their possessions during the Suez Crisis and consequently decided to move to Greece.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 We Five (not the San Francisco, California folk-rock group), another cover band which had limited success in Greece.Demis came to a wider audience in 1967 when he joined progressive rock band Aphrodite's Child, with Vangelis and Sideras, initially as a singer but later also playing bass guitar, achieving big 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 as a result of bad weather, the plane landed them in Paris - and they decided to stay there signing a record deal with Philips S.A. His distinctive operatic vocal style helped propel the band to international notoriety, notably on their final album 666, which became a progressive rock cult classic.After Aphrodite's Child disbanded, Roussos continued to record sporadically with former bandmate Vangelis. In 1970 the two released Sex Power
(although the album has also been disputably credited to Aphrodite's Child), also recording 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
, whilst Roussos also guested on the soundtrack to Blade Runner
(1982), with a song entitled "Tales Of The Future".
Roussos also began a solo career with the song "We Shall Dance" in 1971. Initially unsuccessful, he toured around Europe and soon 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 (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". Initially, Roussos was not very well known in the UK, but with many English people holidaying on Greek islands in the early 1970s, his music was both captivating and haunting. He was so popular in the rest of Europe that it was strange his music had not penetrated the UK market. This came to fascinate BBC-TV producer John King who then decided to make a documentary which he called the 'Roussos Phenomenon' in 1976. The programme was aired and Demis' career in the UK was now an instant success, with three albums soon entering the charts.Roussos was mentioned famously in the television play Abigail's Party (1977) and made one of his earliest appearances on English-speaking TV on the Basil Brush Show. Before appearing on the Basil Brush Show, he had appeared on the Nana Mouskouri TV show in the UK, singing a duet version of his hit single "Happy To Be On An Island In The Sun". In 1980, Roussos had a hit with a cover of Air Supply's "Lost In Love", sung as a duet with Florence Warner.He re-recorded his songs in a number of languages, including Japanese, whereas The Roussos Phenomenon EP
was the first No.1 hit for an African-born artist in the history of the UK Singles Chart. He was equally successful across Europe and Latin America, although a gold disc for the LP Demis
remains his only success in the United States.For years Roussos struggled with his weight. In June 1980 he weighed 147 kg. He then began a diet in which he lost 50 kg in 10 months. In 1982 he co-authored the book A Question Of Weight
with his close friend Veronique Skawinska, in which he dealt candidly with his struggles with obesity. Roussos suffered a fallow period during the 1980s in terms of hits and his output dried up as he battled clinical depression.In June 1985, he was amongst the hostages during the hijacking of TWA Flight 847.In 1989, he recorded the song "Young Love", a duet with German singer/songwriter Drafi Deutscher, which was released as a single in Germany and reached No.2 in the famous German music TV show ZDF Hitparade in October of the same year.The 1990s saw even more substantial releases by Roussos. In 1993 he released Insight
(also called Morning Has Broken
) to general acclaim, although his attempt at a rap song, "Spleen", which appeared on the album, was generally seen as a regrettable idea. After that he teamed up with BR Music in the Netherlands to produce Immortel
and In Holland
, utilising a variety of ethnic and electronic styles..Roussos continued to record and tour. The spring of 2002 saw him do a successful tour of England, whilst in recent years he has appeared in Russia and the United Arab Emirates. A committed follower of the Greek Orthodox faith, he has sung as a guest in a number of churches in Greece and worldwide.In 2006, he released the acclaimed Live In Brasil
, which documents his return to a country where his popularity led him to record "Você Você E Nada Mais" - a huge hit in Portuguese. 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 sixties and seventies.A major comeback took place in 2009, with Roussos recording a new studio album produced by Marc di Domenico (see di Domenico's French Wikipedia entry), released on May 11.
In popular culture
- The Roussos song "A Flower's All You Need" is featured in both the opening and closing credits for Aldo Lado's 1975 horror film, Night Train Murders.
- He is the subject of an argument between two main characters in Mike Leigh's film Abigail's Party.
- Roussos sang the song "All Is Vanity" on Martyn Ford's 1970s The Bible Album. The lyrics of the song are based on chapter one of the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible.