Nikos Portokaloglou
(Νίκος Πορτοκάλογλου)
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30 December 1957

Nikolaos was born at Volos, Thessaly. His father, a refugee from Smyrni, worked for an oil company. In 1958, the family moves to Crete later to settle in Athens in 1961. At school he meets Odysseas Tsakalos, the person who will later become his main partner in the band Fatme. His musical influences at home are a mix of traditional, via his parents, especcialy the songs of Hadjidakis and modern like the Beatles, Jimmy Hendrix and Dionysis Savvopoulos. Soon he will get his first guitar. In 1972, he makes an effort to study at a music school – the National Conservatory of Nea Smyrni. Being a practical guitarist with an individual approach on the study of music, he becomes disappointed by the formal style of learning based on the classical standards. After attending guitar lessons for a while and some lessons in music theory over one year, he abandons his studies.

In 1973, with some of his friends from school he founds his first band playing covers of English hits. Though he shows musical talent his parents want him to enter the School of Architecture. He fails the entry exams however and enters the National Conservatory of Nea Smyrni instead. In 1978 the first sings of the band Fatme where them joining a theatrical venture at the cultural club of their area, with mildly surrealistic plays. At the start of the eighties Fatme tries to get a record company interested but it isn’t until Tzimis Pounasis takes them on tour that they get noticed. In 1982 their debut appears. Portokaloglou quickly stood out and proved his musical mood by writing the lyrics and music for the six albums the group released. A breakthrough to a more serious public comes with the fourth album ‘Vgenoume ap’ to tounei’ when established singer Haris Alexiou joins in for two songs.

The album ‘Palko’ ('Stage'), released in 1989, sounded the end of the band. On stage they are joined by Alexiou and Afrodite Manou. After this Portokaloglou releases his solo debut ‘Fones’ ('Voices') in 1990. The success was not immediate. His second album ‘Kairos gia dio’ also isn’t what EMI expected and Nikos switches to Polygram. The 1993 album ‘Ta karavia mou keo’, recorded with former Fatme members and the participation of Eleni Tsaligopoulou and Savvas Siatras, is a progress but it’s ‘Asotos ios’ (1996) that brings Nikos back into the limelight. Recorded with Dionysis Savvopoulos, Eleni Vitali, Haris Katsimihas, Eleni Paspala, Eleni Tsaligopoulou and more the album became gold and it would create a new basis for his relationship with his audience. In 1997 he stars in the movie ‘Valkanizater’ by Sotiris Goritsas, playing the characteristic role of a “rock” musician of the Balkans. The soundtrack ’Krifto’ is a new effort of blending acoustic and electric instruments. In the same year he appears as a supporting artist at the concert of U2 in Athens. The effort to mix electric with folk is again pursued on his 2000 album ‘Pehnidia me to diavolo’.

In 2001 the soundtrack for the movie ‘Brazilero’ gives Nikos his biggest hit to date ‘Thalassa mou skotini’. The song is continuously played on radio and the album goes platinum and receives three Arion awards. At the start of 2003 he celebrates his 20th anniversary with a concert in the Lycabetus Theatre where some of his closest musical friends like Eleftheria Arvanitaki, Haris Alexiou, Manolis Famellos, Eleni Tsaligopoulou and Dimitris Mitropanos join him on stage. In December 2003 he released his new album entitled ‘Dipsa’ that includes 13 new songs. The artists Melina Aslanidou and Adrianna Babali appear on the album. In 2007 the compilation ‘Ektos shediou’ appears featuring some of his best tracks and (on the 2nd CD) songs by artists he wrote them for.

He is married to songwriter Marina Katsioti although rumour has it that he divorced her recently… but we cannot confirm this (please mail us if you do). Allegedly he reports about this sad event on his latest album ‘Strofi’ (2009). For most of 2009 and 2010 Nikos has been touring with musical friends Nikos Ziogalas and Manolis Famellos. A live-album of these shows is scheduled for 2010.

On the web:

- Nikos' website: http://www.portokaloglou.gr

What do we think:

DB: Portokaloglou is, outside Greece, one of those artists that isn't well known but if you're into Greek popular music you're bound to know a song he wrote. In the nineties Nikos wrote for almost everybody who is something in Greek music but somehow managed to stay low profile himself. Unjust, because his own work can match the work he writes for others. Very well produced, adult and sophisticated, mixing modern pop/rock with traditional instruments. If you want to try his work and get a perspective of what he did for others check the 2007 compilation (like we did).

PR: Nikos Portokaglou is a serious singer and songwriter. Don't worry if you are not into bouzouki's, since he creates mature, high quality pop and rock albums. But with an undoubtedly Mediterranean feel to it.

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

Antonia Font (Spain)

Recommended abums:

♪♪♪ - Siko psihi mou siko korepse - 1992

♪♪♪♪ - Pehnidia me to diavolo - 1999

♪♪♪ - Ektos shediou (compilation) - 2007

♪♪♪ - Strofi - 2009

Further listening:

With Fatme:
Fatme - 1982; Psemata - 1983; Risko - 1985; Vgenoume apo to tounel - 1986; Taxidi - 1988; Palko (live) - 1989

Fones - 1990; Ta karavia mou kaio - 1993; Asolos ios - 1996; Krifto (ost) - 1997; Brazilero (ost) - 2001; Pehnidia me to mellon - 2002; Iparhi logos souvaros - 2002; Dipsa - 2003; Pame alli mia fora - 2005; To potami - 2006; I souvria kai alles istoris - 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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