Apostolos Nikolaidis (singer)
Apostolos Nikolaidis (30 June 1938 - 22 April 1999) was a Greek
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 singer whose career spanned four decades. He was born in Drama, Greece
Drama, Greece
Drama , the ancient Drabescus , is a town and municipality in northeastern Greece. Drama is the capital of the peripheral unit of Drama which is part of the East Macedonia and Thrace periphery. The town is the economic center of the municipality , which in turn comprises 53.5 percent of the...

 and grew up in Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

. He is best known for being the first Greek artist to record or re-record the authentic, "prohibited" rebetika songs in the early 1970s with their original lyrics at a time when this type of music was censored in Greece due to the military junta of 1967–1974 in power.

Early career and influences

As a young child, Apostolos sang the popular songs he heard on the radio and whatever songs his mother, a seamstress, taught him. Although his affinity for singing was obvious from a very young age, upon completing grade school in 1951, he went to work with his father in construction, singing songs to himself or for anyone who would listen while picking up nails or carrying cement on construction sites.

It was when Apostolos heard songs on the radio sung by Stelios Kazantzidis
Stelios Kazantzidis
Stylianos Kazantzidis was a prominent Greek singer. A leading singer of Greek popular music, or Laïkó, he collaborated with many of Greece's foremost composers.-Biography :...

, a performer he admired greatly, that he realized his calling. Much to his parents' chagrin, he bought a guitar
The guitar is a plucked string instrument, usually played with fingers or a pick. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number, are attached. Guitars are traditionally constructed of various woods and strung with animal gut or, more recently, with...

, formed a trio and started to sing around the neighborhood. The youngsters sang the well-known songs of the time, mostly hits performed by popular artists like Kazantzidis and Grigoris Bithikotsis
Grigoris Bithikotsis
Grigoris Bithikotsis was a popular Greek folk singer/songwriter with a career spanning five decades.-Biography:...


After finishing his compulsory military service in 1962, Apostolos took his musical ambitions and set off for Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 and Columbia Records. Columbia was the pre-eminent Greek record company at the time, and most of the country's big performing artists were signed with the label. After introducing himself to the label management, he was able to get an appointment for an audition later in the week at the historic studios in Rizoupoli, Athens. Upon his arrival, Apostolos discovered that Kazantzidis himself was in for a recording session. He nervously waited for his idol to finish recording; then, he sang one of Kazantzidis' hits, "Duo portes ehi i zoi," with Kazantzidis still in the studio. Both Kazantzidis and Columbia were impressed and Apostolos was invited to sign a three-year contract with the label.

While on the Columbia Records artist roster, Apostolos recorded songs by many of the music industry's top composers at the time, including Manolis Hiotis (a close friend who guided and taught him), Giorgos Lafkas
Giorgos Lafkas
Giorgos Lafkas was a Greek songwriter, singer and bouzouki player.- Biography :Lafkas was born in Metamorfosi, Laconia, in 1919, although some sources mention 1924 as the date of his birth. He came to Athens in 1943 to study agronomy, but he was won by music...

, Vassilis Tsitsanis
Vassilis Tsitsanis
Vassilis Tsitsanis was a Greek songwriter and bouzouki player. He became one of the leading Greek composers of his time and is widely regarded as one of the founders of modern Rebetika. Tsitsanis wrote more than 500 songs and is still remembered as an extraordinary bouzouki...

 and Apostolos Kaldaras. The first song he recorded, 1962's "Esi me pligoses varia," was written by Lafkas. Concurrently, he performed at historic venues such as Anemona alongside Lafkas and Kaldaras, Kouinta, To Hriso Vareli, and at Koulourioti's alongside Kazantzidis and Marinella
Marinella is one of the most popular Greek singers whose career has spanned several decades. She has sung professionally since 1957. Since the beginning of her career, she has released 66 personal albums and has been featured in albums of other musicians.-Early life:She was born Kyriaki...

, where he first became widely-known to the public.

Although Apostolos was given songs to record that were written by many of the top composers of the time, they were generally not hit material and this distressed him. Because of the lack of hit-worthy songs available to him as well as a number of creative differences between him and Columbia's management, Apostolos left the record company when his contract expired in 1965. In 1967 he signed on with Vendetta, a small record company formed by singing greats Panos Gavalas
Panos Gavalas
Panagiotis Gavalas was a Greek singer.-Discography:-References:*The first version of the article is translated from the article at the Greek Wikipedia ...

 and Poly Panou (both also formerly signed on the Columbia label). His big hit on Vendetta was 1968's "Asimorfoti."

The move to North America

Eventually disillusioned with the Greek recording industry and in search of greener pastures, Apostolos set out for North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 in 1968. He worked with esteemed bouzouki player Haris Lemonopoulos in Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 for a couple of years; working his way down to the U.S., Apostolos performed in clubs in Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 and New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

. Apostolos recorded his first long-play album, "O Gialinos Kosmos," with Lemonopoulos on bouzouki in 1969 and continued to perform in supper clubs while contemplating a new album. The custom at the time was for Greek overseas acts to record albums containing covers of current Greek hits, but Apostolos had other plans.

Pioneering a rebetiko revival

Through his engagements and performances in Greece in the 1960s, Apostolos had come in contact and worked with many of the great composers of rebetika music such as Markos Vamvakaris
Markos Vamvakaris
Markos Vamvakaris , was a rebetiko musician. He is universally referred to by rebetiko writers and fans simply by his first name, Markos...

, Vassilis Tsitsanis
Vassilis Tsitsanis
Vassilis Tsitsanis was a Greek songwriter and bouzouki player. He became one of the leading Greek composers of his time and is widely regarded as one of the founders of modern Rebetika. Tsitsanis wrote more than 500 songs and is still remembered as an extraordinary bouzouki...

, Giorgos Lafkas
Giorgos Lafkas
Giorgos Lafkas was a Greek songwriter, singer and bouzouki player.- Biography :Lafkas was born in Metamorfosi, Laconia, in 1919, although some sources mention 1924 as the date of his birth. He came to Athens in 1943 to study agronomy, but he was won by music...

 and Giannis Papaioannou
Giannis Papaioannou
Giannis Papaioannou was a famous Greek musician and composer born in Kios, Turkey . In English his name is sometimes romanized as Yannis, Ioannis or Yiannis. Most active in the 1940s, he wrote many songs, some of which are today considered classics of the rebetiko folk music style...

. These composers had risen to fame in the 40s and early 50s but had become sorely neglected and even prosecuted in the much-changed musical landscape of the 1960s. It was from them that Apostolos learned the authentic, traditional rebetika songs, songs borne of poverty, strife and suffering by the refugees of Asia Minor
Asia Minor
Asia Minor is a geographical location at the westernmost protrusion of Asia, also called Anatolia, and corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of Turkey...

 in large Greek urban centers in the 1920s. Apostolos' idea was to record an album full of these classic, traditional rebetika songs with their original lyrics as intended by their authors. Some of these songs had never been recorded with their original lyrics and were outlawed in Greece when a military coup took control of the government in 1967.

The result, 1973's "Otan Kapnizi O Loulas", became a worldwide best-seller as Greek music buyers lined up in stores as far away as Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 to purchase the album. The album was illegal in Greece in the first few years of its release, and 8-track copies of "Otan Kapnizi O Loulas" were regularly confiscated by authorities from taxi drivers' car radios in Athens during 1973 and 1974.

Apostolos Nikolaidis is considered the first to pay tribute to the great composers of Greek rebetika music and is thought to have opened up the door for other contemporary Greek singers and groups to begin recording these types of songs and performing them as an established part of their musical repertoire. Today, "Otan Kapnizi O Loulas" is considered a classic Greek music album and has sold over three million copies worldwide — not counting the tens of thousands of bootleg
Copyright infringement
Copyright infringement is the unauthorized or prohibited use of works under copyright, infringing the copyright holder's exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works.- "Piracy" :...

 copies produced and sold since the album's release.

The 80s and 90s

In 1982, feeling he had become stereotyped as a singer capable of singing only "heavy-handed" rebetika songs, Apostolos recorded and released an album of love songs called "Den Hriazonte Logia". The album did not meet the commercial success Apostolos had hoped for, but it gave him the opportunity to return to the musical space he started out in 20 years earlier.

"Rebetikes Stigmes-Magika Tragoudia" followed in 1983 on the VASIPAP label. Many of the songs on this album became popular requests during Apostolos' subsequent live performances and concerts. Kostas Papadopoulos, one of Greece's most highly-regarded bouzouki
The bouzouki , is a musical instrument with Greek origin in the lute family. A mainstay of modern Greek music, the front of the body is flat and is usually heavily inlaid with mother-of-pearl. The instrument is played with a plectrum and has a sharp metallic sound, reminiscent of a mandolin but...

 players, worked with Apostolos on this album.

In the early 80s and along with the album releases, Apostolos worked in various well-known nightclubs in and around Athens. However, he felt stifled by a lack of integrity and opportunity in the music business at the time and returned to New York in the mid-80s, resuming appearances there and performing newer material in addition to his older classics.

Apostolos continued to give performances in New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

, Houston, San Francisco, Vancouver
Vancouver is a coastal seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. It is the hub of Greater Vancouver, which, with over 2.3 million residents, is the third most populous metropolitan area in the country,...

 and Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 into the late 80s and early 90s. He was followed and embraced by his many ardent fans, performing to sold-out houses every night. His fan base now included many younger fans, who had grown up with Apostolos and counted "Otan Kapnizi O Loulas" among their all-time favorite albums.

In 1991, Apostolos released "Mia Vradia Me Ton Apostoli" — a live album containing material recorded during his legendary appearances at Asteria, a well-known Greek supper club in Astoria, New York, in 1990 and 1991. The album was a success and yielded the hit "Otan horevis to tsifteteli
The Tsifteteli , is a rhythm and dance of Anatolia and the Balkans with a rhythmic pattern of 2/4. The dance is probably of Turkish origin and in the Turkish language it means "double stringed", taken from the violin playing style that is practiced in this kind of music...

 (Horepse, horepse)." For this achievement, Apostolos was honored with his second gold record in New York in 1993. The album was released in Greece in 1995, and "Otan horevis to tsifteteli" became one of the most commonly played songs on the radio and in nightclubs that year.

Spurred on by the success, and as a further established and respected artist, Apostolos decided to return to Greece in the mid 1990s. Although the Greek musical landscape had changed considerably since the 80s, Apostolos found the general environment much more conducive to recording, performing and promoting his work. He teamed up with Giorgos Manisalis — one of the great composers of laika songs from the golden age of Greek music — to release two albums in 1996 and 1997.

Along with the two new album releases, Apostolos performed in clubs and concerts in Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

 to standing-room only audiences. In interviews on TV and on the radio, he promoted his work and answered questions about his past, present and future with characteristic candor and directness. Apostolos also gave special concerts throughout northern Greece, Cyprus and in New York during this time.

In 1998, Apostolos recorded and released "Magia mou pou 'me Paoktzis," a 2-track ode to the Thessaloniki soccer team PAOK. In April 1999, Apostolos released "Allagi Frouras," a collection of laika tragoudia with a decidedly contemporary feel.

Apostolos Nikolaidis died unexpectedly on April 22, 1999 in Athens from complications from cancer
Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...

. His plans for the new millennium included a new, permanent gig at a popular Athens nightclub, new material, and a live recording of the classic rebetika songs he became famous for. In accordance with his wishes, his remains were flown back to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

and buried there.


1961–1967 (45RPM Singles)
1961–1964 1964–1966 1966–1967
  • Ena psihoulo storgis (recorded 1961, unreleased)
  • Tetia apagi na mou lipi (recorded 1961, unreleased)
  • Esi me pligoses varia (1962)
  • O magkas (1962)
  • Dromo perno (1962)
  • Hameni mou hara (1962)
  • Tora pia tipota de mas horizi (1962)
  • Toksera mia mera (1963)
  • I kafetzou (1963)
  • Giati na rotiso ton kosmo (1963)
  • To ematha-to ematha (1963)
  • O dais (recorded 1964, unreleased)
  • Min akous kanena (1964)
  • Ase me ston pono mou (1964)
  • Mavres ipopsies (1964)
  • Mono esi mehis niosi (1964)
  • Esena eho ki'afto me ftani (1964)
  • Mine sto spiti mas (1964)
  • Rota prota ti kardia mou (1964)
  • Krata to heri mou sfihta (1964)
  • Mi to pernis gia astio (1965)
  • As pethena sta psemata (1965)
  • Sti kardia mou ali de horai (1965)
  • Na to prosehis to pedi (1965)
  • Magia mou kanes (1965)
  • Ta dika sou ta hadia (1965)
  • Sighorese patera mou (1966)
  • Panagia mou ti eho pathi (1966)
  • Den se thelo gia gineka (1966)
  • Ise gia menane to pan (1966)
  • Stalamatia-stalamatia (1966)
  • Apo pote allakses glikia mou (1966)
  • Periplanomeno kormi (1966)
  • Ti ne afto pou sou simveni (1966)
  • Tamba toumba (1967)
  • Petradaki-petradaki (1967)
  • Lathos ekana megalo (1967)
  • Eho pikro parapono (1967)
  • O sosias tis agapis (1967)
  • Pos na se sighoriso (1967)
  • Krasi ke dakri (1967)
  • Plagiasa kato apo t' asteria (1967)
  • Asimorfoti (1967)
  • Boemissa (1967)
  • Eimai apopse sta merakia (1967)
  • Rota prota ti kardia mou (1967)

  • 1969–1983 (33RPM Albums)
    • O Gialinos Kosmos (1969)
    • Otan Kapnizi O Loulas (1973)
    • O Arhagelos (1975)
    • Ithela Namouna Pasas (1976)
    • Ston Adi Antamosane (1977)
    • Ta 12 Evagelia T'Apostoli (1979)
    • Den Hriazonte Logia (1982)
    • Rembetikes Stigmes-Magkika Tragoudia (1983)

    1991–1999 (CD Albums)
    • Mia Vradia Me Ton Apostoli Live (1991)
    • Ti Mou Thimises Tora (1996)
    • Na Haro Magkia (1997)
    • Magkia Mou Poume PAOKtzis (Single) (1998)
    • Allagi Frouras (1999)

    Posthumous CD Releases
    • Ta Rembetika T' Apostoli — 3CD Collectors' Set (2002)
    • Gi Afto Ke Zo — 11 Unreleased Tracks (2005)
    • O Gialinos Kosmos — Remastered Collector's Edition (2007)

    Film and television

    • O Megalos Orkos (1965) Director: Stelios Tatasopoulos
    • ERT Tribute to Yiannis Papaioannou (1983) Director: Giorgos Kalogiannis

    External links

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