Manolis Hiotis was a rebetis and revolutionary. By musical innovations and his activities he drove the music of the working class into the salons of the rich and started the connection between the popular song and the art song. On stage he was aristocrat, noble person.
This is the second part of the story on Manolis Hiotis.The first part “Manolis Hiotis-The Noble Rebetis” is at
The reaction of many people to “Manolis Hiotis” is “Mary Linda”, his partner to the famous duo and important part of his life.
Mary Linda (Μαίρη Λίντα) was born in 1935 as Maria Dimitropoulou but as she was young as 7 she got the stage name Mary Linda during young talent’s competition. (Linda in Spanish is beautiful). Astonishingly enough she was singing professionally during elementary school and that hadn’t prevented her to be an excellent pupil. Naturally, as a singer she had met Manolis Hiotis at her early teens, 11 or 12. “He had blond, big green eyes and golden eyelashes …” she tells, “I had never seen such a look. He was so beautiful and well-dressed! As soon as he saw me, he told me: “Kid, are you Mary Linda? I was told that you’re a good singer. I’ll give you my own songs to sing!” and so he did. “From that moment he stayed in my childish fantasy and never left. I had already fallen in love…The second time we sung together he told me word by word: “When you will be tall enough as to reach my shoulder, I will marry you, remember!”
“Meanwhile he got married with Zoi Nahi and got two children”…and one night in the mid 1950s, “he told me that he divorced his wife and said something that made me shaking:” Do you remember what I had once told you, that I will marry you if you reach my height? Well it’s about time!”
They got married in 1959 but before and after that their artistic cooperation produced hit after hit, many of them influenced by Latin tempos and light world music, clearly different from other composers of popular music. We can say that they were the royal couple of Greek music in those days.
The first hit of this type we meet is “Common People and Kolonaki” (Λαός και Kολωνάκι ), the title song from the 1959 movie of the same name. It is about Manolis’ view that all people are the same, the common people and residents of the prestigious neighborhood Kolonaki… We are all equal in this world…all of us have a heart…Lyrics are also by Manolis Hiotis (no translation)
Also from a movie, “My romances of the past” (Περασμένες μου αγάπες – 1960 ) Lyrics by Eftichia Papagiannopoulou (See another version with subtitles in the appendix)
“I want you never to come back” (Δε θέλω πια να ξαναρθείς – 1961) lyrics also Hiotis/ Press for English subtitles
In the end of the 1950s Manolis Hiotis was to lay another new cornerstone in Greek music by creating the connection between the popular song and the art song. It was in Theodorakis’ Epitaph (Επιταφιος) –music set to poems of Yannis Ristos (Γιάννης Ρίτσος). Theodorakis asked Hiotis to orchestrate this piece after the first orchestration hadn’t gained popularity*. But with Hiotis (and Gregoris Bitikotsis’ singing) it was another story. The great success led to more cooperation between these two masters and the foundations to the “popular-art song” which has been giving us exciting moments till today.
Yet there were wider horizons to reach…the world. The popularity of Hiotis-Linda spreads worldwide. They were touring Europe and America; they were invited to the White House to perform for President Lyndon B. Johnson on his birthday. In Chicago, they met Jimi Hendrix, who was awestruck by Hiotis. Questioned about his widespread designation as the greatest guitarist of all time, Hendrix rebuffed the title with characteristic modesty. ‘You think I’m the best in the world because you haven’t heard the Greek guy…Manolis Hiotis; when you listen to him playing, then you will know who is best”
Manolis Hiotis, Maria Callas, Mary Linda and Princess Grace of Monaco
A famous encounter happened in the summer of 1961 as two famous couples were present in their show, Aristotle Onassis and Maria Callas and Prince Rainier of Monaco and Grace Kelly.
After the show Callas told Hiotis that she had been translating the lyrics to Princess Grace and the American actress loved them because “she is a woman in love.” At that moment, Kelly asked Hiotis what is the difference between a bouzouki and an electric guitar. Hiotis’ answer was: “Ms. Callas, please explain to Princess Grace that the strings of an electric guitar are vibrated due to electricity while the sound of the strings of a bouzouki come straight from the heart.”
Mary Linda remembers that Maria Callas asked her :” Come on sweet nightingale, sing for me “The waiter” without microphone”**
Mary Linda in 2011 (Lyrics: Giorgos Oikonomidis, English caps)
In the mid ’60s the fame of the musical duo began to wane in their homeland. Since 1964 they were in the United States for four years and then their marriage came to an end. Mary told: “I told to Hiotis once that we had parted not for moral or serious reasons, but more of frustrations and reasons concerning our work. Some days after we parted he came and asked me to be together again; he was crying and took me in his arms. When we broke up (1967) we were in America. He asked me to go together back to Greece and I told him: “tomorrow I am leaving … you won’t see me again … forget me”. Hiotis soon found love with the actress Bemba Kiriakidou and they wed in 1968 after a whirlwind romance.
A heavy smoker and drinker, Hiotis began to suffer ill-health. On 21st March 1970, as he celebrated his 49th birthday, he was rushed to the General Hospital of Athens where he died of heart failure. At his funeral in the First Cemetery of Athens, Yannis Karabesinis would play on the bouzouki Hiotis’ “Sunsets” and the tearful crowd was singing…
Sunsets (Ηλιοβασιλέματα-1958) lyrics by Eftihia Papagiannopoulou .. English caps. Linda performs in later years.
*The first orchestration was by Hatzidakis and Nana Moushouri singing
** I don’t know whether it was on this occasion
Giorgos Dalaras and the guitarist Al Di Meola in “My romances of the past”(Περασμένες μου αγάπες) Splendid guitar virtuosity by Al! English caps.
And finally a singer that I love very much, Eleftheria Arvanitaki sings at the beginning of her career “You too look like the sea”( Μοιάζεις και συ σαν θάλασσα 1962) Lyrics also by Manolis Hiotis. English caps.
Most of the links are at part one Hiotis’ story at
Two more links:
Many thanks to Anastasia Thanela and Katerina Siapanda for their help!