Greece has been popular among legends of rock music since the 60’s. The land of the sun and the blue sea seems to have been a source of inspiration to many of them, a place for quiet and peaceful holidays away from the paparazzi flashlights or even a place where they would exchange their vows of love to their beloveds. From Leonard Cohen to David Bowie, internationally praised and famous rock stars have fallen in love with Greece and visited the country for one reason or another.
The Beatles arrived incognito on their holiday to Arachova, Athens, back in July 1967 and were photographed by photojournalist Aristotle Sarrigiannis with traditional musicians from the region. Ringo Starr later on spent some summers cruising the Greek islands, while John Lennon climbed the Acropolis rock in Athens.
Almost two years earlier, on 17 October 1965, one of the best guitarists in the world, Eric Clapton had played in the cinema Terpsithea in Piraeus. The background story is as follows: Clapton had just disagreed with the Yardbirds on the recording of, For your love. He left the band and told his friend John Mayall that he would be gone for a while. Soon he left with five other musicians from the UK to go on a tour of Europe with an old Ford. With the car almost crashed down, Clapton and his friends made it to Athens, where they found work in the Igloo as the support band for the Greek band the Juniors. In early October the keyboardists of the Greek band Thanos Sougioul (son of the famous composer Michael Sougioul) was killed in a car accident and guitarist Alekos Karakantas was also seriously injured. The new manager of the Greek band Nikos Mastorakis organized in the Terpsithea cinema a gig for the Four Juniors, which would be dedicated to the memory of their deceased friend. The band members appeared on stage wearing white turtlenecks and mourning bands on their sleeves and a British guitarist named Eric dressed in black replacing Karakantas.
Not many people know that some of the tracks on the album The Wall were written on a yacht in the Passalimani port. The band had come for holidays in 1979, but spent most of their time composing and drinking beers at the marina. That’s when Richard Wright met his second wife, the Greek Franca, whom he married in 1984 and lived with her for ten years, most of them spent on the island of Kefalonia. Keyboardist Wright left the group in 1979, during the recording of The Wall, because he had a disagreement with Roger Waters, but continued to work with them as a session musician. Lead guitarist David Gilmour performed a song called Castellorizon for his third solo album.
Australian musician and composer Nick Cave has come to Greece many times to date proving that his style is deeply inspired by Greek cultural heritage, as he had himself admitted in the past. Tommy Lee from Motley Crue is another big fan of Greece, since he has been visiting the Greek islands almost every summer. Leonard Cohen went to the island of Hydra for the first time in 1960 and was so amazed by it that he spent all his savings to buy a house there, where he spent long periods of his life until the mid 70’s. He used to draw and write poetry before writing songs with the help of his guitar. He would occasionally host many artists, but eventually sold his house and now visits Greece for gigs or tranquil holidays. Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant has a house on the island of Rhodes, which he frequently visits in the summers, while David Bowie visited the island of Patmos several times during the 80’s.
The Rolling Stones first visited Athens in 1967, just before the coup, for a gig that was cancelled by the police for security reasons. Ever since, the band has visited the country once more for a concert, but each member has separately visited some of the Greek islands.
(Information from TaNea, original story by Akis Kapranos)