Vasilis Papakonstantinou (Βασίλης Παπακωνσταντίνου) Bookmark and Share


21 June 1950

Vasilis Papakonstantinou was born in a village called Vasta, outside of Megalopolis, Arcadia. In 1957 the family moved to Athens. Here he was influenced by the trends of the sixties: Mikis Theodorakis, protest rock, international peace and liberation movements, while Greece was trying to quickly heal the wounds of the Greek Civil War. In 1973, after having served for a period of time in the Hellenic Army, fulfilling his national service obligations, he moved to West Germany and settled in Munich. There he participated in anti-dictatorial organisations, campaigning against the Greek military junta of 1967-1974 and singing in places where Greek students and immigrants went.

His first musical encounter was with Mikis Theodorakis in the summer of 1974, in Paris - their collaboration commenced two years later. In the same year, after the fall of the military junta, Vasilis returned to Greece where he embarked on a professional singing career, singing in clubs, and also recording a first single. That same year he collaborated on the recording of ‘Ta Tragoudia tou Dromou’ (Road Songs) by Manos Loïzos.

In 1975 his debut album came out called ‘Ta Agrotika’ (Rural Songs) with lyrics by Thomas Bakalako. The album featured around the protest songs and musically he found help of Manos Loïzos and Thanos Mikroutsikos. In 1976 he collaborated again with Theodorakis for ‘Tis Exorias’ (Songs of Exile), and took part in the composers international tour of 1978. At home Papakonstantinou actively took part in youth and worker movement rallies, singing at strikes, meetings, anti-racist and anti-fascist concerts. His protest nature also came about at the 1981 project ‘Armenia’ on which he sings several Armenian battle hymns and tries to create awareness around the Armenian homicide.

For his 1982 album Papakonstantinou began adapting influences from progressive rock into his music. He performed songs which had an obviously more electronic sound and more acute and intervening lyrics. ‘Fovamai’ (I fear) featured songs composed by Manos Loïzos, Lakis Papadopoulos, Giannis Zouganelis and Giannis Glezos  and a cover version of Cockney Rebels ‘Sebastian’. The album was his major breakthrough to a broader audience. The 1984 ‘Dieresi’ (Division) confirmed his new sound and success, again with an interesting coverversion from Lucio Battisti’s ‘Giardini di marzo’.  Next to the established artists Vassilis also worked with new talent like Nikolas Asimos and Aphrodite Manou. In April 1985, an audience of 16.000 attended his first major solo concert at the Peace and Friendship Stadium (documented on ‘H Sinavlia Apo To Neo Falhro’) and in June 1988 at the Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium. In these years his name also hits the tabloids regularly due to his relationship with popular singer Tania Tsanaklidou.

Vassilis works regularly with poets. He interpreted Nikolas Asimos in 1992 on “Falimento tou Kosmou’ (The end of the World) and ‘Sfedona’ (Sling). In 1995 he coöperated with a.o. Alkis Alkeos, Vasilis Giannopoulos, Aphrodite Manou and Minos Matsas for the musical project ‘The Shikoni’ (Impossible).  In the same year Vasilis marries actress Helen Rantou, with whom he has a daughter called Nicole. In 2003 Vasilis Papakonstantinou celebrated 30 years in music with a unique concert in St. Petersburg, Russia. The album 'Eseis Oi Filoi Mou Ki Ego' also commemorates his jubilee in the music bizz. A car accident is the basis for his 2007 album ‘Metopiki’ (Head-On) with lyrics by George Kleftogiorgou. Luckily thanks to wearing seat belt and his airbag no scarification is left.  In early April of 2009 the album ‘Ourania Toksa Kinigo’ is released with music by Vasilis and lyrics by Alkis Alcaeus. iN 2011 he joins the protesters at the Syntagma square protesting against against the measures due to the economical crisis. The song 'Το τραγούδι της πλατείας' (meaning The song of the square). is a poem by Yorgos Sourís written in 1910 about the Greek economical crisis in 1897 when Greece almost went bankrupt. Vasilis set the poem to music.

On the web:

- Vasilis' website: http://www.vasilisp.com/

What do we think:

DB: I bumped into Papakonstantinou through a Minos-compilation LP from 1983 that featured a track from ‘Fovamai’. The mix with progressive rock and traditional music was very appealing but it was not until I visited Athens that I came aware how big he is in Greece itself. If you’re into traditional greek music Papakonstantinou might be a bit to rock for your taste but if you’re looking for an orginal artist he is well worth your attention.


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Recommended abums:

♪♪♪ - Armenia - 1981

♪♪♪♪♪ - Fovamai (I'm afraid) - 1982

♪♪♪♪ - Diairesi (Division) - 1984

♪♪♪ - Hairetismata (Greetings) - 1987

♪♪♪ - Hronia Polla (Happy Birthday) - 1991

- Sfentona (Sling) - 1992

- Fysaei (Blow) - 1993

♪♪♪♪ - Ourania Toksa Kinigo (Celestial arrows shoot) - 2009

Further listening: Ta Agrotika (Rural Songs) - 1978; Vasilis Papakonstantinou  - 1978; H Sinavlia Apo To Neo Falhro (Live) - 1985; Ola Apo Heri Kamena (Surely all burned) - 1988; Horevo (I'm dancing) - 1989; De Sikonei - 1994; Pes moy ena psema na apokoimitho (Tell me a lie to fall asleep) - 1997; Na Me Fonakseis (Call me) - 1999; Thalassa Sti Skala (Sea at the companionway) - 1999; Sfentona Live (live) - 2000; Chamenes Agapes (Lost Loves) - 2000; Prosecho...Dystyhos (I'm careful...unfortunately) - 2002; Eseis Oi Filoi Mou Ki Ego (You my friends and I) - 2003; Fresko Hioni (Fresh Snow) - 2004; Metopiki (Head-On) - 2007; Vatomoura (Blackberries) - 2008

♪♪♪♪♪ = 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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