Tzimis Panousis (Τζίμης Πανούσης)Bookmark and Share


12 February 1954

Born in Athens Panousis made his first appearance in the mid 1970s, performing in various pubs, with his band "Mousikes Taxiarhies" (Musical Brigades, Greek: Μουσικές Ταξιαρχίες). Panousis was the vocalist and main composer of the group. Their first appearance in public was in 1980 in "Skylab" in Plaka  along with their first (unofficial) album was "Disco Tsoutsouni" (Disco Weenie). It was an illegally published tape, many songs of which were later rerecorded for the band's official debut, their eponymous album in 1982. The album immediately caused a stir and was briefly withdrawn from circulation because of the ostensibly blasphemous lyrics of a love ballad. On it Panousis introduced a controversial style of rock music with humorous and sarcastic lyrics. His songs include caustic remarks on the political and social reality of Greece. Musical style the band includes rock with reggae and rembetiko. The band went under the alias "Alamana's Bridge" to make a guest appearance with two songs in the compilation album "Made in Greece". Two more albums followed with this group, ‘An I Giagia Mou Ihe Rouleman’ (If my grandmother had a ball) (1984) and ‘Hard Core’ (live recording, 1985) before the Mousikes Taxiarhies were disbanded and Panousis went solo. Again on these albums the controversial lyrics disturbed the censors causing them to add beeps over some of the lyrics. Tzimis’ subsequent successful career showed that he could be a band on his own. And also an artist that staid on the barricades. As an example he released his 2002 live album for free with Metro magazine.

But next to a musician Panousis also builds a career in radio, television and later in cinema. All of which searching the political and social accepted edge. He also has released six books mainly based on radio broadcasts. The first was the Dizziness grades (Knowledge, 1989) which contains 40 stories that have been fantasy radio broadcast. He also released to radioshows called ‘The Hunting of the chick’ (Opera, 1992) consisting of 30 short biographies of women and ‘Healthy perversion’ (Opera).

In 1997, a court battle with well-known Greek singer George Dalaras began. Panousis had frequently been making fun of Dalaras in his live shows, showing money coming out of his mouth whenever he sang. The court ruled that Panousis would be charged with a one million Drachmas fine (approximately $3,000) every time he mentioned Dalaras by name on-stage. Panousis's response to that, was to call him "the unmentionable" in his shows from then on, and use his famous on-stage quip, “Ladies and gentlemen, I have 3 million drachmas to spare: Dalaras, Dalaras, Dalaras!”

All this has contributed to the depiction of Panousis as a highly controversial artist. Some regard him as a modern-day Aristophanes while many consider that his pranks and commentaries are of bad taste. Panousis often uses offensive language, while the advertising posters of his depict provocative images. In one instance, he replaced the cross of the Greek flag with a communist hammer and sickle, for which he was charged with a four-month probation. In another instance, he appeared dressed as a priest with a medallion hanging around his neck which depicted the head of a chicken instead of Mary. This elicited the angry reaction of Archbishop Christodoulos, the former head of the Church of Greece. The Archbishop was not amused and filed a complaint taking Panousis to court. The appeal is still pending. In 2009 he released a double DVD with several live performances. In 2013 he returns with a full new album and new songs since a long period of silence, taking the Greek euro-crisis and political world climate under anarchistic critique.

On the web:

- Tzimis' website: http://www.tzimakos.gr/

What do we think:

DB: Tzimis sometimes dresses in a tutu and a bra, has a volumptious body mass and looks like a complete bum. Does he care? I don't think so. Do we care? Of course not because musically Panousis is one of the few artists in Europe that truly can meet up with the tradition the late Frank Zappa created. Tzimis has the same cynical humour and the ability to translate it into good music. Not the chaotic jazz-kind, Panousis anarchy is completely in what he says and how he looks. So if you play a record of him, and you don't speak any Greek (like us), you'll be oblivious to all the underwater puns and enjoy some really good European pop/rock music. An athens recordstore owner told me that, although he looks like he sleeps under a bridge, Panousis in fact comes from a very wealthy family. However, not caring for his family's wealth, he uses music to make a point and not for personal gain. According to our Athens friend this is what the dispute with Dalaras is about since Panousis believes Dalaras has lost touch with the (poor) people that made him the star he is today. Hmmmm.

If you like this, you probably like.. / european counterparts:

Praszky Vyber (Czech republic)

Raymond van het Groenewoud (Belgium)

Recommended abums:

♪♪♪♪ - Mousikes Taxiarhies - 1982

♪♪♪ - An I Giagia Mou Ihe Rouleman - 1984

- Hard Core (Live) - 1985

♪♪♪♪ - Kaggela Pantou - 1986

♪♪♪ - Obi Obi Bi - 2013

Further listening: Himia Ke Terata 1987; Doulies Tou Kefaliou (Live) - 1990; O Roben Ton Hazon (Live) - 1992; Vivere Pericolosamente - 1993; Digma Dorean - 2002
Dourios Ihos - 2003; Tis Patridas Mou I Simea (Live) - 2009

♪♪♪♪♪ = outstanding album, an absolute must-have
♪♪♪♪ = great album, highly recomended
♪♪♪ = nice album
♪♪ = be careful, requires listening before buying
♪ = best to be avoided


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