Manos Loïzos (Greek: Μάνος Λοΐζος) was considered to be one of the most important Greek Cypriot music composers of the 20th century.
I had the very good fortune to be able to meet some of his family and have exclusive first access to the fully refurbished house that was his parental home. It is now owned by one of his cousins who has had it completely restored and it is now kept as a family shrine, it is not inhabited nor open to the public.
As you enter the village of Agoi Vavatsinia, there is a monument to Manos Loϊzos and immediately past it there is a restaurant that is named after him. The restaurant is run by his cousin and her husband, take pride in their connection to one of the greatest composers in the history of modern Greek music.
I managed to speak to them about Manos, (in between a massive meal) I did manage to capture some footage of them talking about him, but it was a little difficult as everyone was excited and keen to talk about him…….at the same time!
Following that, I was taken to his parental home, by the owner of the restaurant who actually lives opposite, it is on a little lane called ‘Agiou Spiridonos Street’ hardly wide enough to fit a car, but he managed to get through, with about 1 cm on each side!
Entering this house was like a step back in cultural history, not only because Manos was such an important figure in Greek music, but the house itself is a step back in time, giving a snapshot of life as it was then.
He was born on 22 October 1937 to Cypriot immigrants in Alexandria, Egypt. His parents came from the small village of Agioi Vavatsinias, in the district of Larnaca, Cyprus. Loizos moved to Athens at the age of 17 intending to study pharmacology but soon gave up his studies in order to concentrate on his musical career. He was a self-taught musician, with no formal musical arts training. His first recordings were made in 1963 but he started gaining a larger audience after 1967.
By 1975 Loizos had become one of the most popular artists in Greek music.
He died on 17 September 1982 in a hospital in Moscow, Soviet Union after suffering several strokes. He was well known for his leftist political ideology and was an outspoken critic of the Greek military junta. He was also an active member of the Greek Communist Party. The year 2007 was declared “Manos Loizos Year” in Greece.
He composed many well-known Greek songs and has co-operated with various important composers, singers and lyricists like Mikis Theodorakis, Haris Alexiou, George Dalaras, Vasilis Papakonstantinou, Christos Leontis, Fondas Ladis, Yannis Negrepontis, Manolis Rasoulis, Giannis Kalatzis, Nâzım Hikmet and many others. His best known co-operation was with his very personal friend, lyricist Lefteris Papadopoulos who wrote the lyrics of many of Loizos’ most successful hits.
Some of Loizos’ most famous songs are :
“Ola se thymizoun (Everything Reminds Me of You)” Lyrics: Manolis Rassoulis
“Jamaica” Lyrics: Lefteris Papadopoulos
“S’ Akoloutho (I follow you)” Lyrics: himself
“To Akordeon (The Accordion)” Lyrics: Yannis Negrepontis
“O Dromos (The Street)” Lyrics: Kostoula Mitropoulos
“Che” (dedicated to Che Guevara) Lyrics: himself
“Ah Helidoni mu (Ah, my swallow)” Lyrics: Lefteris Papadopoulos
“De Tha Ksanagapiso (I Shall not Love Again)” Lyrics: Lefteris Papadopoulos
“Paporaki tou Burnova (Paporaki of Burnova)” Lyrics: Lefteris Papadopoulos
“O Koutalianos” Lyrics: Lefteris Papadopoulos
“Evdokia” (Instrumental Zeibekiko)
In 1985, a big concert dedicated to his memory took place in the Athens Olympic Stadium, attended by more than 50,000 people with singers George Dalaras, Haris Alexiou, Giannis Kalatzis, Dimitra Galani and Vasilis Papakonstantinou performing. Manos Loizos’ songs and music remain popular until today among all ages of the Greek society.