Nikos Xilouris (07/07/1936 - 08/02/1980)
He was born in 1936, in a town near Rethymno, Crete. When he was five years old, the Germans burned down his town and his family was forced to flee to a nearby town. He started learning to play the lyre at a very young age and managed to convince his father to buy him one. Soon, he played the lyre at weddings and feasts. When he was 17, he moved to Heraklion and started working at a night club. He married Ourania Melampianaki in 1958. At a slow, yet steady pace, he started building his reputation and this eventually led to the release of his first album. In 1966, the state decided that Xilouris should be the Greek representative at a music festival that was organized in San Remo, Italy. Xilouris decided to play a syrtaki on his lyre; this decision was what gave him the first prize for his performance.
During the Regime of the Colonels, Xilouris had already gained considerable fame; thus, it was much easier for him to find work at night clubs, so he decided to move to Athens in 1969. He met Yannis Markopoulos, with whom he had a fruitful collaboration, while he also formed a friendly relationship with the director of a record company. In 1971, he started appearances with Markopoulos and his voice and songs became a symbol of resistance against the dictatorship. In 1973, he sang at a theatrical play.
At the peak of his career, Xilouris started feeling pain on the head and the chest. He went to New York and was admitted to Memorial Hospital, where he was diagnosed with cancer. After multiple operations, he returned to Athens. In February 1980, he was admitted to the Anticancer Hospital of Piraeus for new examinations. The next day, his health vastly deteriorated and fell into a coma. Despite the valiant efforts of his doctors, nothing could be done to save him; he died the next day, aged 43. His voice marked the years of the dictatorship and the resistance, as well as the first years of the Restoration of Democracy in Greece.