Greek music fans are still shocked at the sudden death of Pantelis Pantelidis, the 32-year-old singer-songwriter who died in a car crash on the morning of February 18. But his death marked much more than a tragic end for a young and talented performer — it signified a prominent loss in the rare music industry commodity of Greek singer-songwriters.
Since the early 20th century, the creative business model used in the music world has remained largely unchanged: lyricists and composers wrote songs they sold to well-known singers to perform and record. Many artists hardly ever had any part in process of musical composition, and composers’ songs never succeeded as well without major name recognition behind them. The voice of a great singer and the compositions of an exceptional songwriter were soon found to be the perfect formula for a successful record.
Pantelidis was one of the rare exceptions to the rule — which makes his death so devastating to the music world.
Pantelidis was a member of the Greek navy when he began uploading videos of himself singing original compositions, accompanied by his self-taught acoustic guitar playing. He soon gained a following, was offered a record deal and became a musical phenomenon. His 2012 debut album went double-platinum, and in 2013 he won the MAD Video Music Award for Best New Artist. Despite the economic crisis that was–and still is–ravaging the country, he managed to sell out every venue where he performed. Audiences threw thousands of Euros worth of flowers onstage during his concerts, and when there were no flowers available, some audiences threw the couch and seat cushions they were sitting on instead.
The singer’s appeal also laid in his self-made career. Many contemporary Greek singers–like Thanos Petrelis and Kostantinos Argyros–were discovered on talent shows, and others were discovered by agents and labels while performing already-famous songs at Greek nightclubs. Pantelidis undoubtedly broke that mold when he uploaded his first YouTube video four years ago as a self-taught amateur.
One of Pantelidis’ last televised performances was from this past Christmas Eve, where he sang for Greek personalities and other singers. During one of his most famous songs, “Ginetai,” one hysterical spectator decided to flip over the table in front of him, knocking plates and glasses onto the floor. The excitement and emotion that Pantelidis’ songs brought and continue to bring listeners doesn’t just show how well-loved he was, but how badly the Greek music industry wants and needs more singer-songwriters.
Click the video below to watch part of Pantelidis’ Christmas Eve performance, table-flip (at 9:29) and all: