EXPIRED: 07/20/10 – Tassos Papastamatis, 72, was often called the Greek Sinatra, but he started out in a rock band that was, for the Greek Islands, as big as the Beatles.
With his legendary band, The Forminx, Papastamatis combined his vocal talents with the early keyboard playing of his songwriting partner Vangelis Papathanassiou ,and the two had several years of hits, mixing it up between dance hits and ballads, including Our Last September, or A Precious White Rose.
The first hit, Jeronimo Yanka, began a dance craze in early 1965 and went gold within a week and nearly that quickly every Greek kid raced out to start a band.
By 1966 a documentary was being made on the band, but Vangelis decided he didn’t want to be a stage musician any longer and left to record in Paris, Rome and London, eventually dropping his last name and finding fame creating moody film soundtracks and teaming up with YES vocalist Jon Anderson.
Papastamatis, on the other hand, stayed in Greece to pursue a solo career. He put out a version of Frank Sinatra’s Strangers In The Night, but in spite of his distinct vocals he never really got the hits he had hoped for. Vangelis returned to lend a hand, writing and producing the single Rosetta and Days of Love. But global success eluded him and his modest career was limited to local events.
Other than the odd booking, his advancing years left little in the way of a career and for the last two decades he lived in near complete isolation.
It’s been said that other surviving members of the Forminx, including guitarist Vassilis Bakopoulos, had been in touch with Papastamatis over the years to lend financial support, but he refused. The singer eventually cutting off his telephone service to remove the bother.
So, in a small apartment on the 6th floor of the Aristotle Street in downtown Athens where Papastamatis lived for 50 years, the singer slipped away unnoticed, and undiscovered for about 15 days.