Nikos Xilouris – The Archangel of Crete

Nikos Xilouris a.k.a. Psaronikos, was born in 1936, at Anogia Milopotamou in Rethimno Crete into a family with a musical tradition and many lyra players. At the age of five when the Germans burnt down his village he was displaced along with the rest of the inhabitants and relocated to another village in Milopotamos where they remained until the liberation of Crete. His brothers Antonis Xilouris (Psarantonis) and Yiannis Xilouris (Psarogiannis) are also famous Cretan musicians.

While still at a young age and with his teacher’s help he managed to convince his father to buy him his first lyra and very soon he started playing at weddings and panygiria. At 17 he decided to move to Iraklion and started working at “Kastro” nightclub. But things didn’t work out as expected because he came up against the European music trend of the time, something he was completely unfamiliar with. His earnings were meager and he couldn’t make ends meet consequently he went through some really hard times. Gradually the Cretans began to support him and they organized panygiria just to hear him play. This way he started to become known and in November 1958 he recorded his first record with the title “ Mia mavrofora otan perna”.


The public loved the record and therefore Nikos recorded more songs on 45rpm records. His son Giorgos was born in 1960 and his daughter Rinio in 1966. The year his daughter was born he won first place in the music festival of San Remo playing Syrtaki with his lyra. In 1969 he recorded the successful record “Anyfantou” and a few months later he appeared in a music hall in Athens. The conditions were different now, more mature, and people supported him even more. So he moved back to Athens. There he met the poet and director Errikos Thalassinos who decided to introduce him to Giannis Markopoulos and this is how a brilliant collaboration began with the records “Chroniko” and “Rizitika” In 1971 he started to appear together with Giannis Markopoulos at the music hall “Ledra” and his voice became the symbol of resistance.

During those years he worked closely with Thanasis Gaifillias from Thrace at music halls at Plaka and in concerts all over Greece. In the summer of 1973, he sang in the theatrical play “Our big circus” which starred Kostas Kazakos and Jenny Karezi at the theatre “Athineon”. With his voice and his ethics, he left his mark in the period of the military dictatorship, during the resistance against it, and the first years after the regime change. At the peak of his career, Nikos Ksylouris realized that he had cancer. After a long struggle, multiple operations, and considerable fatigue he lost the battle and passed away at Pireos Hospital on February 8th, 1980 at the age of 43.




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