Prague, Oct 3 (IANS) Czech singer Karel Gott, who sold millions of records and was known as the “Sinatra of the East”, is no more. He was
Gott released almost 300 albums, starting in the mid-1960s, selling tens of millions of copies around the world. He was popular behind the
Iron Curtain and was referred to as the “golden voice of Prague”. He also found fame in Western Europe, especially Germany.
He died late on Tuesday after a long and serious illness, his wife said, reports bbc.com.
Gott announced last month he had acute leukaemia. He released his last album in 2018 and was still popular in Germany, Russia and the US, as well as at home where he was regarded as the king of Czech pop.
He started out in life as an electrician in Prague before his talent as a singer found him work in the city’s dance cafes. During the communist era, he performed at home and abroad, including in the West, which was uncommon for Czech musicians back then.
He sang in a variety of languages besides native Czech, including Russian, English, German and Italian, and subsequently moved to Las Vegas in 1967, where he picked up tips from Frank Sinatra.
Following the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Prague, Gott continued to remain popular, despite many singers being banned from the stage for
The same year, he represented Austria in the Eurovision Song Contest, performing the song “Thousands of windows”.
No-one knows how many records he exactly sold, but the number is well above 30 million. His 1977 album “Karel Gott” sold 4.5 million copies alone in the Soviet Union. He also appeared in 30 films, usually playing himself, according to Tass news agency.
Gott was renowned in Germany for singing the title song of a popular animated cartoon TV series “Biene Maja” (Maja The Bee) and he sang a German cover version of Lara’s Theme from the hit film “Doctor Zhivago”.
In his six-decade career, he was voted the most popular Czech singer 42 times in an annual poll. Czech President Milos Zeman said the
singer’s death was “extremely sad news for our whole country”.
Flags flew at half-mast on Wednesday and the government said Gott would have a state funeral.