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During the early 50's the Greek music, that you could hear in the mass media of radio and films, was the Laika (music based on the bouzouki) with sounds the Greeks from Asia Minor brought with them back in the 1920s. The Greek soft music (elafra mousiki) with flavours of western European sounds was also very popular. The most representative of this music came from the songs of Manos Hadjidakis

"Six popular pictures", Ballet 1950

and Mimis Plessas

It was sung by famous performers like Nana Moushouri, Tzeni Vanou, Giannis Vogiatzis and others.

Also, during this time, the music of famous duos and trios like the Katsamba Brothers

"what are you asking me"

and Trio Athena became fashionable.

Their particular sound was an imitation of Spanish and Mexican music which they transformed into Greek.

As well as this, there was the other kind of music, the Demotica or Greek folk music which unfortunately had negative memories for many older Greeks, as Demotica was promoted as Greek nationalist music during the seven years under the dictatorship. Hopefully, as the years have gone by, these bad connotations are beginning to fade.

ALA! by TRIO GITARA (A. Zafeiriou, G. Dimakis & G. Kef


Laika developed from the Rebetika which was popular among the underclasses during the 1940s and 1950s. It was not well known to the masses until around the 1970s when George Dalaras and many others reproduced many old Rebetica songs. This coincided with the making of the famous Greek film, Rebetico (that tells the story of Marika Ninou one of the first rebetiko woman singers) which popularised this kind of music even more.

Μαρίκα Νίνου & Βασίλης Τσιτσάνης, “Η ταμπακέρα”

Μπέλλου, “Είπα να σβήσω τα παλιά", 1951

The Laika was, for many years, neglected by the Greek middle class. It is said that it was Manolis Hiotis who brought the bouzouki music into the middle-class drawing room. Manolis Hiotis was probably the best virtuoso of the bouzouki. Though he was a former guitarist, he also invented the eight string bouzouki and created unforgettable songs using for the first time in modern Greek pop music the styles of Jazz, Samba and many Latin music elements integrated with his bouzouki.

Manolis Hiotis, lost angels “You are the cause ”- 1948

From the end of the 1950s onwards, the Greek Laika became more and more popular. This has partly to do with the economic development of Greece that was slowly recovering from the two wars, the Second World War and the Civil War. More and more Greeks could afford to buy radios and record players. The Greek record companies, seeing the potential of Laika, signed contracts with singers, musicians and composers and the mass production of popular Greek music really began to take off.

The 1960s saw the growth of the well-known tavernas that offered live music shows, the "Bouzoukia". This occurred particularly in areas of Athens. One of the most fashionable area at the time was Tzitzifies. The 1960s' saw the absolute domination of Laika. Great performers became known to all Greek households. Names such as Grigoris Bithikotsis, Stelios Kazantzidis, Stamatis Kokotas, Manolis Angelopoulos, Marinela, Giota Lidia, Doukisa, Poly Panou, Panos Cavalas with Ria Kourti, Viky Mosholiou were all singing the songs of famous composers like Vasilis Tsitsanis, Giannis Papaioannou, Markos Vamvakaris, Giorgos Zambetas, Giorgos Mitsakis, Apostolos Kardaras and many others.

Grigoris Bithikotsis, "It's raining in the poor part of town", Music by Mikis Theodorakis.

There is a big dispute about what is considered as Greek popular music during those days because, as is well known in the modern Greek music world, many composers of those years were tuning their radios every night to the short wave frequencies and listening to the music from several Arabian countries as well as India. The music they then went on to compose was highly influenced (and in some cases even copied) from songs of these countries. Many say that authentic Greek folk music was developed firstly by Marcos Vamvakaris, with his famous song "Fragosyriani" (1932) :

With this song Vamvakaris introduces new musical roots with more Western sounds that blend perfectly with the old sounds of Rebetiko. The same also happens with Vasillis Tsitsanis and his song "beautiful Thessaloniki" :

Both these songs are the typical Hasapiko dance songs. Finally, there is George Zambetas with the song "stand up and dance"

Sirtaki is one of the oldest songs in the Greek history ! Everybody dance at this song, because it is amazing !!!!Syrtaki which seals a whole era that follows with the name 'Greek tourist music'. At this point it is interesting to mention that during the 1960s the Beatles were said to have visited Greece and met with Zambetas to learn some of the techniques of Greek music and bouzouki. It is not strange therefore that, to the Greek ear, the Beatles' song 'Girl' is a typical Greek Hasapiko.

In the middle of the 1960s a new kind of music began to be heard in Greece. This was the Greek New Wave music which was inspired by Western ballads and styles that were first introduced in Paris in the Boifes music halls. The New Wave became the favourite music style of the young Greek intellectuals and sophisticates. The Buite Esperides of Yiannis Argyris and Apanemia of George Zografos, both in Plaka in Athens, became the shrines of this New Wave. It was the time of great performers like Dionyssis Sourpopoulos to make a huge turnaround in the Greek music scene developing it towards Western ballads, Blues and Rock. During this time new performers of the Greek new wave like Giannis Poulopoulos, Kostas Hadjis, Arleta and others made a significant presence.

Of course, the composers that made the Greek music known internationally are :

Manos Hadzidakis with "Never on Sunday", Melina Merkouri as singer.

and Stavros Xarhakos with his music in the film "The Red Lights" and "Lola"

Mikis Theodorakis with his famous "Zorba the Greek".

These three composers are acknowledged as the greatest composers of modern Greece and you will often hear their names mentioned in musical circles as 'the fat' (Hiadjidakis) 'the tall' (Theodorakis) and 'the short' (Xarhakos).


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Greek rock music was first appeared in the 1960’s. The famous bands were The Forminx The Idols and the Charms. At the end of sixties the band Aphrodite's Child, one of the most important and successful Greek rock bands appeared. Another aspect of Greek rock in 1960’s gave with his first album Dionysis Savvopoulos, who combined Greek folk music with rock elements.


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Vangelis was one of the founders of pop group The Forminx (or The Formynx).

The band Forminx was one of the first rock band in Greece. The band played their own music and “cover versions” of other songs. Most of their songs was written by Vangelis and they were sung in English. The Forminx made nine hit singles. They split up in 1966 at the peak of their success. A film being made about them at the time, which was initially directed by Theo Angelopoulos, was never completed, and the songs, composed for the movie, were never sold in the music market.

Until the end :


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Another famous Greek rock band. Demis Roussos started his carrier in this band playing bass. The band slip up very soon. Most of their success were cover versions as :

“lei mi diceva” from New trolls that became “ena koritsi mou che pei”

“suddenly you love me” from Tremeloes that became “xafnika me agapas”

“la tempeta from Roberto Carlos became “trikymia stin kardia mou”

One of their own song ;"The girl who wants me" (to koritsi pou me theli)

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The Charms were one of the top acts in Greece in the mid-1960s and the most commercial band. The Popular release is one of their first 45s, if not the very first, featuring two instrumentals, “Charming Hully Gully” and the phenomenal “Shake with Charm”

Like other bands of the era, by 1966 they stepped away from instrumentals and started singing, but the music still has a jerky instrumental flavor to them on the early Music Box releases. All their early vocals are in English.


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A Greek band of the late '60s and early '70s, Aphrodite's Child scored only one European hit, "Rain and Tears". Though it was a big one, the group became little more than a trivia answer after keyboardist Vangelis Papathanasiou dropped his surname and hit number one with the theme to Chariots of Fire in 1981. Aphrodite's Child also included drummer Lucas Sideras and vocalist Demis Roussos, who enjoyed some solo success himself as a pop vocalist. The band formed in Greece in the mid-'60s, and the title track from the second album was a hit throughout Europe. The 1971 album 666 was generally agreed to be the best, but it proved to be the last, though the single "Break" was also a hit in Europe.

"End of the World"

"Rain and Tears"

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Dionysis Savvopoulos is a Greek music composer, lyricist and singer. He was born in Thessaloniki on December 2, 1944. In 1963 he moved to Athens, terminating his law studies in favor of his career in music. He met great success since his early days as a musician and soon became very popular, both in Greece and abroad. Savvopoulos has been noted for being politically active throughout his career in music. He had a raspy voice as distinctive in its own way as Bob Dylan's. In fact for a time he was known as the Bob Dylan of Greece. Most of his songs are written by himself (both lyrics and music). Throughout his career he has sung Greek Rock, Laiko and Rebetika.

Album fortigo 1966, The tree (ΤοΔέντρο) :

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