Agathonas Iakovidis, the legendary Greek folk singer who performed with the band Koza Mostra at Eurovision 2013, has died aged 65. He passed away following a heart attack.
Ahead of Eurovision in Malmö, Koza Mostra told us why they decided to wear kilts in their official music video for “Alcohol is Free”. It was, they said, all about bridging the divide in Europe by uniting the kilt, which comes from Scotland, one of the westernmost places in Europe, and Greek music, which was obviously born in the East.
A key link to that was Agathonas. Born to refugee parents from Asia Minor, he taught himself a range of instruments from the baglama and the oud to the bouzouki and the mandolin. These instruments are key components of rebetiko — songs strongly associated with Greek nightlife and entertainment. The genre experienced a renaissance in the 1960s and 70s — and Agathonas was a master of it.
Drawing on traditions from the Greek mainland and islands, the genre is defined partly by spirit and passion. That Agathonas plucked with the speed of a cheetah and the fire of someone in love with his craft imbued his performances with something that can’t be taught. It must be lived and, thankfully for the rest of us, experienced.
Koza Mosta expressed their sorry on Instagram, writing: “So hard for us. Our great friend Agathonas passed away this morning.”
“Can’t find words to describe our pain. Our mind is with his family.”
They punctuated their caption with an emoji of a white dove — a symbol of hope and eternal peace.
At Eurovision 2013, Koza Mostra were a bundle of energy, making full use of the stage and extended runway. Only the drummer and Agathonas stayed on the main stage throughout the song.
As the guys bounced around, at times moving in slow motion before dancing like madmen, Agathonas stood front and centre — providing an anchor amid the chaos. A star of his stature didn’t need to shimmy and shake. His stoic expression, knowing looks, suggestive expressions and that mustache gave this performance heart and a sense of Greek tradition. Yes it was fun, but it was rooted in music.
The song made numerous allusions to the Greek debt crisis and government mismanagement, and the resulting feelings of suffering as a result of cuts and austerity. Agathonas, a man who lived life to the full by making the most of the gifts he had been given, had no doubt seen better times. And here, through his sonorous tones and overflowing wisdom, he seemed to suggest they’d come again.
We send our deepest condolences to his family. R.I.P., Agathonas.