dig right in, you might just enjoy it.
Today is March 25th and while for some that’s just another day on the calender, for Greek people living here and abroad, March 25, 1821 will always be remembered as our day of independence, and as such we celebrate the day anyway we can. My Greek brethren and sistren celebrate by throwing a photo of a Greek flag on their respective Facebook pages and usually, the last Sunday of the week that March 25 falls on, there’s a parade that people of Greek origin partake to show just how Greek they are. The Greek Independence Day parade is also an excuse to wolf down pounds of Greek fast food like souvlaki (beef or lamb on a stick) and gyros (lamb lovingly wrapped in pita bread with tomatos, onions, lettuce, and that good ol’ famous Greek “white sauce”, “tzaziki“) while waving little paper Greek flags on that day. This year, thanks to the musical platform that is kilScene, I decided to celebrate Greek Independence Day the only way I knew how. Music. More specifically, the music of Paulos Sidiropoulos. I know that many reading this don’t know who Paulos was, but hell, dig right in, you might just enjoy it.
He the first person who took the American born rock genre and put his own spin on it, but making it local to Greece.
The Greek population was always known to adopt the trends of America. That was never more clear than their adoption of whatever musical trend was invading American radio. If there were any aspiring Greek artists around, as soon as rock n’ roll hit Greece’s shores, they were quick to put down the bouzoukia (Oval shaped stringed instrument) only to replace that with a Fender Stratocaster. They now wanted to rock. The problem was that they didn’t bother to write their own stuff, they were content just to cover other people’s music and that was it. It’s strange to think of it now, but why they never thought to use their own talent to come up with original compositions was a bafflement if there ever was one. That was until Paulos Sidiropoulos. He the first person who took the American born rock genre and put his own spin on it by making it local to Greece. Greek rock music. Such a thing was unheard of and had never been done before he came on to the scene in 1970.
He was Kurt Cobain before Kurt Cobain was Kurt Cobain. The man changed music forever.
The “scene” was in Thessaloniki, Greece. While majoring in mathematics at the university in Thessaloniki, he met fellow musician Pantelis Delleyannidis. Together they formed the band Damon and Phidias. Paulos and Pantelis started making waves by blending rock music with Paulos’ lyrics. Fast forward to 1976. Paulos joined with the Spiropoulos brothers to form the group Spiridoula. In 1978, Spiridoula released their album, Flou. Flou was the album that had the biggest impact on the Greek rock music scene. Paulos Sidiropoulos would go on to influence the likes of future Greek rock artists such as Pyx Lax and Trypes. To further express the importance of who Paulos Sidiropoulos was in the Greek music scene, I’ll put it to you like this: He was Kurt Cobain before Kurt Cobain was Kurt Cobain. The man changed the music scene in Greece forever. Along being the father of blending Greek lyrics to original rock music, Paulos also wrote english lyrics to accompany rock music.
Paulos kept on recording music throughout the 1980’s, now with his new band, Oi Aprosarmostoi (“The Misfits“) with which he released his albums En Leyko(“In White“) (1982) and Zorba The Freak (1985). In 1989, Oi Aprosarmostoi released Xoris Makigiaz (“Without Make Up“), which was recorded live at The Metro night club in Athens.
Paulos Sidiropoulos had that same spark of madness and rebellious fervor… Long may his spirit reign!!
The parallels between Kurt Cobain and Paulos Sidiropoulos are not so far fetched. Paulos had a crippling heroin addiction for the better part of his recording career. Paulos died on December 6, 1990 of a heart attack brought on by a heroin overdose. He was 42 years old. Paulos, like the rest of the Greek youth immersed himself in western music, yet he was the only one at the time who thought to take those influences and utilized them to his own benefit. He had the foresight that Greek music could more than just the kind of music produced using traditional instruments indigenous to the country. His thought was, why couldn’t he also do rock music that was truly his own and not a Chuck Berry cover? He never let himself get bogged down by rock covers like the rest of his Greek brethren were doing. His lyrical themes ran the gamut from addiction, to love and loss, and songs of rebellion that were aimed at the youth of Greece. He saw a way out of the norm and he believed enough in his talent that he knew he could do it. He was a visionary and a rebel and such rebelliousness happened to run in his family (as a side note: Paulos was the great grandson of George Zorbas, who was famous Greek author, Nikos Kazantzakis‘ inspiration for the character, “Alexis Zorba” in his timeless novel, “Zorba the Greek“.)
Paulos might not have set out to change the face of music, but since his passing, there have been many worthy imitators who continue to carry the torch that Paulos lit all those years ago when he was still a student at the university in Thessaloniki. Paulos Sidiropoulos will live on forever in the Greek music scene because his mark can be seen and heard every time a band comes together to put their own spin on western music. Paulos paved the way and many have followed and will continue to follow until this world stops spinning. I don’t know if this piece had anything to do with Greek independence, but maybe it did. The Greeks could have never achieved their independence had it not been for their rebelliousness and just that little spark of madness. Paulos Sidiropoulos had that same spark of madness and rebellious fervor that carried him to a fruitful career in music, where, and many will agree, he is a true legend. Long may his spirit reign!!