Giorgos Papasideris – The Pioneer

He was born in Salamina on November 14th, 1902. He was the fifth of nine children in the family of Christos Papaisidorou and Ekaterini Bountali. He finished elementary school and then he worked as a farmer, a sailor on merchant boats, and a carriage driver until he was drawn to singing. In 1928 “Columbia” partner Lambroulias met with Papasideris, following lute player Sideris Andrianos’s suggestion who was from Salamina too and a professional musician himself coming from a family of musicians. They sat together for hours, talked and sang. Lambroulias who was quite experienced was excited and proposed a cooperation with “Columbia”. And so it happened.
Giorgos Papasideris recorded his first song at the age of 26, in 1928. After the recording, the prototype was transferred to England where the record production followed in vinyls of 78 rpm which arrived in Greece six months later, in 1929, when his first record came out. That song was an “amanes” and the verses went like this: “I have so many complaints written on my chest, when will the time come that I’ll tell them all to you one by one” Since then and until 1972 he sang relentlessly dozens of songs in records. In the beginning, he recorded some “amanedes” a kind of song that as we all know requires a performer with huge singing skills. Furthermore, he sang folklore as well as rebetika songs of Mathesis, Tountas, Peristeris, Skarvelis, Barousis, and Psiriotis. In those days, in the early ’30s, he was paid 1.000 drachmas by “Odeon” for each song. Since his vocal skills allowed it, very often he would record a lot of songs on the same day.

Therefore once, in the presence of his brother Dimitris, he recorded thirty songs in one day thus receiving the astonishing and unprecedented for those days wages of thirty thousand drachmas! In November of 1940, Gerogre Papasideris contributes as well in encouraging the Greek army that was fighting on the Albanian front by writing the following songs “In the mountains of Klisoura” and “Day and night with the rifle ”. During the German occupation, he sang some other songs such as “Return with Glory” “I wish I were a bird flying high in Albania” and “And you mountains of Korytsa”. He recorded those songs in vinyl later in 1947.
At some point, he met with Sophia Vembo and discussed fleeing to Egypt. Vembo eventually left but Papasideris stayed. The Italians were annoyed by him and targeted him and one night he was brutally beaten. During that period he was singing at “Elatos” in Omonia. Throughout his career, he traveled to every part of Greece from Epirus, Thessaly, Roumeli, Evia, Attica, Peloponnese, and several islands. In 1972 he traveled to Chicago USA for a month. As far as discography is concerned apart from Columbia, he cooperated with other companies like Odeon, Parlophone, His Master’s Voice, Dore, and others. He recorded dozens of songs. Almost half of them are his because he wrote the lyrics and the other half are old folklore songs – lyrics and melody – some of which he sang as they were and in some others, he added his own lyrics because they were random couplets. It’s worth mentioning here that he actually salvaged many of them from oblivion through his recordings.
He also wrote lyrics for songs for other performers. His voice remained unchanged in the passage of time, and that’s why he continued to sing till his last days. The last time he sang was in Trikala Korinthias at a panigyri on the day of the Holy Cross – a religious holiday celebrated on 14th September. He died 24 days later on October 8th, 1977 due to heart failure. The most prominent figure of the Greek folklore song passed away on the island where he was born, raised, and lived.



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