(January 3, 1939-November 26 2013)
Arik Einstein was an Israeli cultural icon and singer/songwriter who is thought of as one of the pioneers of Israeli Rock music, and he is widely considered to be one of the most influential and prolific Israeli artists of all time. In addition to musical endeavors, Arik was also involved in film and screenwriting, appearing in a TV series known as Lool (Chicken Coop) and movies as well in the 1970's.
Born to an actor in the local theater in Tel Aviv, Arik joined the IDF and due to his poor eyesight joined the Nahal Brigade Army Band. Honing his skills during his time in the IDF, when he was released he joined a band called the Green Onion band, and soon after joining he released his first solo album. At this time he also was featured in a movie called Sallah Shabati, directed by Menahem Golan.
Einstein's first major musical success came with the band The High Windows in early 1967. Their self-titled first and only studio album was released in April 1967, just six weeks before the Six Day War. This album is hailed today as a milestone of Israeli pop music, and a re-mastered and re-released version of the album achieved "Platinum" sales status in Israel when released in 2007. Although their music was enjoyed throughout Europe and Israel, the band dissolved after one year, citing creative issues and disputes between Einstein and the other members. Einstein was not happy with the way that the music was being distributed in different languages across Europe, and cited that the audience could not get the full effect of the lyrics after translations.
After leaving The High Windows, Einstein released an unsuccessful solo album and focused on his acting. During the recording of Einstein's third solo album Poozy, Einstein enlisted a band called The Churchills for instrumentals on the album, and joined up with them afterwards. Poozy is widely considered a monument of Israeli music, and the first true Israeli rock album. The Churchills are considered one of the first, if not the first, Israeli rock band, and found commercial success after joining with the already established Arik Einstein. After contributing half of the instrumentals to Einstein's album Poozy, they released three albums with Einstein as the singer of The Churchillls.
In the early 1970's Einstein was involved in a short-lived television show known as Lool (Chicken Coop), and was a part of the Lool Gang (Havurat Lool). Although this show only aired 4 episodes, it is beloved to this day and is regarded as classic Israeli television. The show was performance oriented, with singers performing classic Israeli songs written by Israel's greatest laureates.
From the 1970's on, Arik Einstein dedicated his performance career to reviving and renewing old Hebrew songs written in the early 19th century. He released multiple albums spanning many genres under the name "The Old and Good Land of Israel". These modern adaptations of Israeli classics truly spoke to the heart of the Israeli people, and Einstein stated that he made these albums simply because he enjoyed singing the old songs.
In the early 1980's after performing for a living for nearly 30 years, Arik made the decision to stop doing live performances. At this time it was revealed by him that through his entire career he had suffered from stage-fright and shyness, and he did not wish to perform anymore. Although the live performances were to stop, Arik confessed that he loved creating music and being in the recording studio, so he would continue to release new material. Arik continued to find success even though he was not performing live anymore, and in 2010 he was the most played artist on Israeli radio stations. He created music late into his life, and his last album titled Kol Ha Tov Shebaolam (All the Good Things in the World) was released in 2007.
Arik Einstein died on November 26 2013 after collapsing in his home just hours prior. His death was widely covered by every major news organization in Israel, and his funeral attracted tens of thousands to Tel Aviv. Einstein was truly a cultural icon of the grandest proportions, and on the day of his death Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that Arik's songs were "the soundtrack of Israel".
Sources:The Jerusalem Post, BBC News, Haaretz