Israeli Singer Arik Einstein Dies at 74

PR/Ziv Koren

Considered one of the country's most beloved entertainers and influential cultural figures, he released 44 solo albums since 1966.

Iconic Israeli recording artist Arik Einstein, considered among the most beloved singers in Israeli history and voted as one of the nation’s most influential cultural figures, died on Tuesday. He was 74.

Einstein was rushed to Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center early on Tuesday following a severe aortic aneurysm. In a short statement to the media, hospital director Professor Gabriel Barabash said that despite efforts to fight for Einstein’s life, it was too late to save him once he was admitted in a state of clinical death. "There's no one [left] to sing for us," he added.

Family members and friends soon gathered following word of Einstein’s hospitalization.

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Born on Jan. 3 1939 in Tel Aviv as Arye Einstein, son of Ohel theater actor Yaakov Einstein, the young singer initially showed talent as an athlete, rising to claim Israel's junior high jump champion. However, it was his father’s encouragement that made him join an army entertainment troupe in the late '50s as part of the Nahal Brigade troupe. In the decade following his army service, Einstein served as vocalist for popular bands Batzal Yarok (Green Onion), Shleeshiyat Gesher Hayarkon (Yarkon Bridge Trio) and Hahalonot Hagvohim (The High Windows).

His first of 44 solo albums came out in 1966. Over the years, Einstein had collaborated with legendary Israeli musicians such as Shalom Hanoch, Miki Gabrielov and Yoni Rechter. Several of his recordings have long been hailed as the true soundtrack to Israel, cementing his place in the country folklore as a lyricist and performer. During the early 1970s, he dabbled in acting as part of innovative comedy sketch TV series Lool (Chicken Coop) and has been known for imitations.

Einstein, who was married twice, is survived by four children. Following a tragic car accident in 1982, which resulted in the death of a close friend, Einstein and his second wife, Sima Eliyahu, were badly injured.

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Since then, he stayed away from the public eye, consenting to few interviews and media appearances.

This upcoming weekend was supposed to be a celebratory one for Einstein. Earlier this week he was announced as the latest addition to local print publication Ma’ariv, where he signed on to write a weekly column.

Said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement: “Arik was the greatest. We all grew up on his songs. You said Arik Einstein, you said Israel. Arik was a wonderful singer and a wonderful person. The songs he wrote and sang were the soundtrack of Israel. I loved him very much. The State of Israel bids a sad farewell to a culture giant. My wife and I are mourning the loss.”

Added President Shimon Peres: “From the first day [he] got on stage, people felt an exceptional singing talent was born. His songs are the soundtrack of an entire nation; his voice caressed and embraced the country. He moved the first generations and new alike. No one doubted the depth of his feelings, and the people drank the beloved voice that came from the depths. He never looked down in pretense, nor did he need to. We loved him for his heartbreaking modesty. He wrote in difficult times and days of elation. I loved the songs and knew from an early age what others thought as well -- there was no one like him and it was great to have him. His sounds will fill the earth, even when he’s gone. His songs will continue playing life and hope.”

Twitter: @DavidCaspi