He is described as “Erotic, rebel, outgoing person, exuberant, rude for many”. “I am in a constant over-wrought condition” he said about himself. Lavrentisas Mahairitsas (Λαυρέντης Μαχαιρίτσας) is on stage from 1978 and in the last 25 years of solo career he has been a notable and popular contributor to Greek Rock.
He finds the positive side of being “non –contrived” person. People know that he is true even if people are sometimes being hurt. “I have searched many times to find the secret of my success. I am not getting along with public relations. I may be likable to some people but I am not the favorite one of the “experts” in music”, maybe because many musicians and singers have been the target of his sharp critical statements. Nevertheless, he has a lot of friends-singers, from Greece and abroad, that he loves to cooperate with in concerts and in the studio.
He is leftist in his views, asserting that the whole social and political systems should be changed. People should fight for it. That’s why he has not been voting since 1990. The day all Greece celebrated the Olympic Games opening, he was on Mount Athos, sitting on a balcony and talking with an aged priest. He was challenged for being inconsistent because of his luxurious lifestyle. On this he commented ” I am a leftist, not asshole!”, and admitted that he has, like all people, some inconsistencies.
Non conformism, anti-establishment and rock emerged in his early years. He was born in Volos in 1956. As he was nine he bought his first album “Help!” of The Beatles, and three years later it was their “Revolver” that caught him. “I grew up listening rock music, the music I liked and I thought that it was something I would like to deal with in my future.” His father, who was the conductor of the local symphony orchestra, died young while Lavrentis was 15. At high school he was a bad student, but he also fought with a teacher, a result of this he was expelled from all high schools. Lavrentis changed many jobs for making a living and in 1976 he began his army service. As a protector of his family he was obliged only for 12 months, but his rebellious spirit and detestation of army’s life led him to the military jail for another five months.
“What do you usually sing?” The singer and the leftist fighter Panos Tzavelas asked the young man standing in front of him at the Plaka club “Lidra”, in 1978. “Songs in Dylan’s style” was the answer. He would finally manage to get the job while Tzavelas was calling him scornfully “Dylan”(*). This was the beginning of Lavrentis Mahairitsas career.
Two years later Mahairitsas and other friends established the rock band PLJ, its name is assembled of three members’ initials. They left for Paris, singing in English and dreaming about international career.” I thought that we’ll become the new «Aphrodite’s Child»! I had the expectation of becoming the new Demis Roussos, but I didn’t manage to become neither Dalaras. Of course it’s not a catastrophe!” Their first album was “Armageddon” which relates to an end of the world scenario. Now days this album is much acclaimed, but at that time it sold only 400 copies and the band’s members were starving.
And then Maharitsas had changed his mind about singing Greek, not English, rock. “Since I grew up by listening to Moody Blues and Frank Zappa it was difficult for me to write songs in Greek. Only after listening to Savvopoulos I realized that someone could make great things in Greek also… I felt that I could get a guitar and what I had heard all these years from Dylan, I could hear in Greek too.” In 1983 the name of the band was changed to “Termites”, as tribute to the Beatles; after a year they begun to gain popularity but in 1988 the band was dissolved.”A band is not a charitable organization…we didn’t make money. We had to eat. So we stopped and everyone pulled his way.”
One of the band’s greatest hits is “How much I love you”( Πόσο σε θέλω), a song that Lavrentis Mahairitsas has been singing since then. The music is by the band’s members and the lyrics are by Giannis “Bach” Spiropoulos.
(Press cc for English caps)
We are in the end of the 1980s and Mahairitsas is in a hard economic situation.” I was freaking out. With the supporting of my woman, Eleni we did concerts and had, for example, thirty people in Lavrio , forty people in Mykonos , after the summer we had enough money to get back home; great bitterness.” He released his first album The”You love me” and the “I love you” (Ο μ΄ αγαπάς κι η σ΄ αγαπώ -1989) which wasn’t a success and he still had been facing great financial problems, still needed the support of his wife.
Didimoteicho Blues (Διδυμότειχο blues)
The recognition in his talent came in the album “Didimoteicho Blues”(Διδυμότειχο blues-1991) with the title song which was sung with Giorgos Dalaras becomming a hit. Didimoteicho is a town in Northeastern Greece, near the Turkish border that has military camps around and has been and still is thought of as one of the worst places for a soldier to do his duty. So this song is biographical about Mahairitsas’ traumatic experience in the army and the uselessness of military service.”Before Didymoteicho I was the child who sang in the Termites; after I became the Laurentis Mahairistas.”
Didymoteicho blues, with an untuned guitar
Didymoteicho blues, my lost penny
Didymoteicho blues, my filthy comb
My wet cigarettes, rotten fruits in the crates
Didymoteicho blues, its name is the reason
Didymoteicho blues, a hole in geography
Didymoteicho blues, an empty photograph
The absurd of military service, stressed out masturbation
The video is from a concert in the “Likavitos” Theater. The lyrics are by Giannis “Bach” Spiropoulos and the music by Lavrentis. (no translation)
What to say (Τι να πω)
From the same album this is his first successful Greek adaption of Italian song, that would be followed later in his career by many excellent remakes of Italian and foreign songs. “In our work there is no parthenogenesis” he says; every new partnership, new language, new music, is a new horizon that renews himself as an artist one level up. “Shall we limit ourselves? We went crazy!”
A beautiful duet with Eleonora Zouganeli. The music is by Lucio Battisti and the lyrics are by Afroditi Manou. ( English caps)
Small Titanic (Μικρός Τιτανικός)
From “Didimoticho” Mahairitsas popularity got an upturn. The 1993 album “Splash redness on the night”(Ρίξε κόκκινο στη νύχτα) had few notable songs. This one is about a man and a woman that their relationship have almost broken down; their “ship” is about to sink but he is still hoping that at the end love wins…Lyrics are by Mihalis Gkanas, music by Lavrentis Mahairitsas.(English caps)
A Turk in Paris (Ένας Τούρκος στο Παρίσι)
In 1994 he was badly affected by the loss of his brother; in the next year he would released his much acclaimed album “Window that were tired by the view”(Παράθυρα Που Κουρασε η Θέα) and in 1997 the album “Pafsilipon” (Παυσιλύπον- what stops, gives relief in someone’s sorrow), from which are our last three songs. The first is a beloved humorous song about a guy who envies the cat of his girlfriend who lives far away in Paris; the need to feel her and jealousy are so strong that he writes to her unserious things about the cat that probably he doesn’t mean…
In this video Mahairitsas is in concert at the Likavitos open theater with Dionysis Tsaknis and Filippos Pliatsikas. “Since the day I met Tsaknis and Pliatsikas on the stage I don’t want to be there alone anymore. I think it is meaningless to go on stage and play alone for three hours because people might get tired. Why should I play alone on stage? To satisfy my vanity?”
Lyrics: Isaak Sousis, Music: Lavrentis Mahairitsas (Caps)
“I write music according to the lyrics I choose to deal with and the feelings they cause me. I don’t write verses myself. The purpose of music is to entertain, to calm, to trouble, to have a little bit of everything. A topic that interests me is love as an impulse, as a stream that comes from inside. A beautiful love, even if it failed gives you courage, acts as amphetamine, enabling you to deal with everything. Usually my songs referred to social and political matters and talk about unfulfilled love. I can’t write about a successful love.”
One of Mahairitsas hits from the same album is “South” (Νότος).Lyrics by Isaak Sousis, Music Lavrentis Mahairitsas, performed with Babis Stokas who is his original partner in this the song.(caps)
“30 years ago and more we had the hope of Marxism, we had the hope of an alternative and we’ve had dreams. May ’68, Woodstock, free love. Everything collapses. Rock was a kind of a way out … a revolution … and many in our profession exploited it and earned billions…”
“What finally remains? If you have five friends and five songs that will last over time you are successful. I think what I was deserved from the whole pie I got and I am pleased and happy that there is space in the mind and soul of some people to hear my songs and love them.”
Absence (Απουσία) Lyrics and music: Miltiadis Pashalidis
Many thanks to Anastasia Thanela and Katerina Siapanda!