Artemios "Demis" Ventouris Roussos was an Egyptian-born Greek vocalist and performer who had an internationally acclaimed career, both as a single recording artist and bandleader. As a band member he is best remembered for his work in the progressive rock music act Aphrodite's Child, but as a vocal soloist, his repertoire included hit songs like Goodbye, My Love, Goodbye and Forever and Ever. Roussos sold over 60 million albums worldwide and became "an unlikely kaftan-wearing sex symbol".
After settling in Greece, Demis participated in a series of musical groups beginning with the Idols when he was seventeen. This was where he met Evángelos Papathanassíou (later known as Vangelis) and Loukas Sideras, his future bandmates in Aphrodite's Child. His teenage years coincided with a boom in the Greek tourism industry and he began singing in tourist bars. Forming progressive rock band Aphrodite's Child with Vangelis and Loukas brought Demis to a wider audience from 1967 to 1972, initially as a singer but later also playing bass guitar. His operatic vocal style and unique high tenor helped propel the band to international success; notably on their final album 666, based on passages from the Book of Revelation, which became a progressive rock cult classic. Even after Aphrodite's Child broke up, Demis and Vangelis collaborated on 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 (scored by Vangelis) and on Vangelis' soundtrack to Blade Runner (1982).
Demis' career arguably peaked in the 1970s as a soloist, although he continued to tour and record successfully up until his untimely death. Some of his 'greatest' songs are We Shall Dance, Forever and Ever, My Friend the Wind, Goodbye My Love, Goodbye, My Only Fascination and Lovely Lady of Arcadia.
In June 1985, Roussos was among the passengers of TWA Flight 847 from Athens to Rome, which was hijacked by members of Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad. He and Pamela were released along with four other Greeks after five days while most of the other hostages remained there for 17 days.
Demis Roussos worked towards world peace, expecially after the hijacking incident. Like many other survivors, he went through the shock of a traumatic experience. It made him aware of the importance of nations living together in hrmony and how precious life is. He realised his best contribution for such peace was through his music and returned to recording and performing. He was invited to join scientists, writers and artists at the forum for peace and disarmament in Moscow, held in 1987.
Later that year, whilst touring Chile, he visited the Earth Summit in Rio to get a clearer picture of the environmental problems. Many of his songs from that time reflect his concerns and desires.
Demis Roussos was born on 15th June 1946 in Alexandria, Egypt. He was the son of Egyptian-born Greek, George (Yorgos) Roussos, who was a classical guitarist and an engineer with his own property construction company, and Greek-born, Olga, who was a singer. Music was always going to play a big part in the young lad's life. As soon as he was old enough young Demis studied music and learned guitar, trumpet and piano. He joined a Greek Byzantine church choir in Alexandria as a child and later began work as a cabaret musician to help his family make ends meet. Demis was fluent in Spanish, French, Italian, German and Arabic, as well as Greek and English. His parents lost their possessions during the Suez Crisis and consequently moved to Greece.
He married four times, with the first three ending in divorce. Both of Demis' children are musicians.
For years, Demis struggled with his weight. In June 1980 he weighed 147 kilograms (23 st; 324 lb). He then began a diet in which he lost 50 kg (8 st; 110 lb) in ten months. In 1982 he co-authored the book, A Question of Weight, in which he dealt candidly with his struggles with obesity.
Demis remained a committed follower of the Greek Orthodox faith; regularly singing as a guest in churches in Greece and worldwide, including France.
He passed away, aged 68 years, from stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer and liver cancer on 25th January 2015 in Hygeia Hospital in Athens, Greece. Demis' funeral was held at the First Cemetery of Athens, the burial place of many Greek politicians and cultural figures, on 30th January.