Lavrentis Machairitsas, one of the most acclaimed Greek songwriters and performers died in his sleep on Monday, at the age of 62.
The artist, who suffered a heart attack during his sleep was born on 5 November 1956 in Volos he was transferred to this hometown’s General Hospital, where he took his last breath.
Mahairitsas, who started taking piano lessons at the age of six, gave his last performance with fellow artist Nikos Portokaloglou at the open-air Melina Mercouri Theatre on Friday, 6 September.
The late artist bought his first record at the age of nine, it was ‘Help’ by the Beatles, who became his inspiration.
Mahairitsas, was not only a controversial alternative-rock artist on stage; from an early age he declared his dislike for rules and lack of originality. As a young student he fell into disagreements with his teachers and after an intense fight he was expelled from all high-schools in Greece. His first job was at a record store, but because of his lack of punctuality he was fired, going through countless jobs until he was called to serve in the army.
Following those 14 months, he began to sing with Panos Tzabelas in a band called Syntrofia. At the age of 20, together with Pavlos Kirkilis (Paul), Takis Bassalakis (Jimmy), and Antonis Mitzelos they formed a band called P.L.J.
They moved to Paris an released their first album Armageddon, produced by Giannis Doulamis, and PolyGram records back in 1982. For the second album, the outfit changed its name to Termites and started singing in Greek, finally releasing their third album in 1984, a work that brought them into the spotlight. In 1986 the band released their fourth album, with the fifth and most successful, ‘Perimenontas Tin Vrochi’ out in 1988. That was also their last album as a group.
Machairitsas started his solo career in 1989 releasing his first album ‘O Magapas Kai I Sagapo’ by Minos-EMI. In 1991 his second record, ‘Didimoticho Blues’, which was certified Gold. Since then there was the iconic ‘Rixe Kokkino Stin Nichta’ in 1993; ‘Parathyra Pou Kourase I Thea’ in 1995; in 1996, ‘Pafsilypon’; in 1999 ‘Etsi Drapetevo Ap’ Tis Parees’, and in 2001 the very successful ‘To Dialeimma Krataei Dyo Zoes’, which included the now classic hits ‘Matia Dihos Logiki’, ‘Ela Psihoula Mou’ and ‘O Egokentrikos’.
Other discography includes:
- 2001 Efapax (cd-single) with Yannis Kotsiras [Gold]
- 2003 Sto Afierono
- 2004 Hreiazetai Ena Thavma Edo (cd-single) with D. Tsaknis & Filippos Pliatsikas
- 2005 Alkyonides Meres (Live)
- 2006 Iroes Me Carbon
- 2007 Tosa Hronia Mia Anasa (Best of) [Gold]
- 2009 Pethaino Yia Sena (OST)
- 2010 H Enohi ton Amnon [Platinum]
- 2012 Oi Aggeloi Zoun Akomi Sti Mesogeio
- 2014 Mia Trypa Ston Kairo… Kyrie Mano
- 2017 Allaxan Polla
“I am in a constant over-wrought condition” he said back in 1978 and never stopped writing music and prose.
“I write music according to the lyrics I choose to deal with and the feelings they cause me. I don’t write verses myself. The purpose of music is to entertain, to calm, to trouble, to have a little bit of everything. A topic that interests me is love as an impulse, as a stream that comes from inside. A beautiful love, even if it failed gives you courage, acts as amphetamine, enabling you to deal with everything. Usually my songs referred to social and political matters and talk about unfulfilled love. I can’t write about a successful love.”
“I have searched many times to find the secret of my success. I am not getting along with public relations. I may be likable to some people but I am not the favorite one of the ‘experts’ in music,” he said much later in his career, commenting on people’s perception about his non-nontrived ‘persona’.
Machairitsas, apart from very productive, was also a very political person, using his celebrity and, more often than not- his art, to raise awareness about several issues. His views were clearly leftist, however, he had not been voting since 1990 as he felt more aligned with the ideology and not the existent leftist parties in Greece.
He wasn’t the only one to pass judgement or exert criticism though. He too received backlash for being inconsistent with his ‘preaching’ against capitalism and “the system” while he himself lived a rather luxurious life.
“Thirty years ago and more we had the hope of Marxism, we had the hope of an alternative and we’ve had dreams. May ’68, Woodstock, free love. Everything collapses. Rock was a kind of a way out … a revolution … and many in our profession exploited it and earned billions…,” he said a while back.
“What finally remains? If you have five friends and five songs that will last over time you are successful. I think what I was deserved from the whole pie I got and I am pleased and happy that there is space in the mind and soul of some people to hear my songs and love them.”
*Lavrentis Mahairitsas’ funeral will take place on Wednesday at the Zografou Cemetery in Athens, Greece at 15.30 local time.
Instead of flowers the family has requested friends and fans to donate to the organisation ‘Mazi Gia to Paidi’ noting the artist’s name.