Eduard Khil, People’s Artist of the RSFSR, a veteran entertainer, and the owner of a unique baritone voice, died last night in St Petersburg. The Polenov Russian Neurosurgical Institute released the sad news; Khil had been hospitalised there in the ICU after a stroke. He was 77-years-old. A spokesman for the Institute said, “Khil died at 01.35 on Monday”. In early April, Khil had a stroke was in the Mariinsky Hospital. In early April, Khil had a stroke and was at the Mariinsky Hospital. Until May 23, he received care at the hospital until his doctors transferred him to the Polenov Institute. During the entire time, his condition remained serious; his doctors tried their best to restore his full mental faculties. From the very onset of the disease, vital areas of his brain shut down, leading to disruptions throughout his body. Doctors at the Mariinsky Hospital used protocols developed by Dr Veronika Skvortsova, the Minister of Health, in an attempt to restore circulation in cerebral vessels affected by CVST. Dr Skvortsova is a leading expert on cerebral circulation.
President Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences to the family and friends of Eduard Khil. His telegram, published on the official Kremlin website, said, “Dear Zoya Aleksandrovna, Dmitri Eduardovich, and Eduard Dmitrievich, I sincerely share the sorrow that’s befallen your family, all his fans mourn Eduard Anatolyevich Khil… what a generously-gifted, amazingly bright, and positive person. His name belongs to a whole epoch in the history of our national music. Eduard Anatolyevich had an extraordinary charm and lyricism; he never violated the standards of his professional skills, vocal culture, and creative taste. Many of his songs are ‘golden oldies’ of Russian pop art. The blessed memory of Eduard Anatolyevich Khil will forever remain in our hearts”.
Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev expressed his personal condolences and those of the government, saying, “The death of the outstanding pop singer Eduard Anatolyevich Khil is an irreplaceable loss for Russian culture as he was truly a people’s artist. The songs that he sang tied together people of different generations; his fans aren’t only in Russia, but in foreign lands, too. Eduard Anatolyevich is no longer with us, but he left us his musical legacy, which will help to keep the memory of this brilliant and talented person. I give my condolences to his wife, in particular”.
Khil’s fans from around the world expressed their condolences to the family and friends of the deceased artist. On Monday, fans posted dozens of comments and condolences on a webpage created in his memory, expressing sorrow from not only from Russian fans, but from foreigners, too, including from the USA. Elena wrote, “I give condolences to the family, I often saw Eduard Anatolyevich on Rubinshteyn Street, even though he lived on Marat Street. He’d walk on Rubinshteyn to go home and to go to work. He’d quietly walk down the street. He always acknowledged people. He always stopped to talk to everybody”.
On Monday morning, the name “Khil” was amongst the top ten most mentioned phrases in Russian Twitter. Members of social networks remembered “Mr Trololo”… Khil’s nickname in recent years, when there was a surge in popularity for his video, I’m Very Happy ‘cause I’m Finally Goin’ Home. Online, in the USA and Europe, his video gained millions of views and the popularity of the video even surpassed one with US President Barack Obama. Badges, mugs, and T-shirts with Khil’s picture became hot commodities in British shops. Of course, his fans enthusiastically imitated Khil, they sometimes parodied his songs, and they made animations to go with the songs. More than 14,000 people logged on to the webpage of the singer’s Facebook fan community.
Khil was almost the last person in the world to learn of his internet triumph, his grandson told him all about it. With some surprise, he then remembered about the insane popularity of the song forty years ago, saying, “It was my signature piece in the 60s. Imagine, I wasn’t singing a lullaby, it wasn’t a march, but it was a song without a single word for 2½ minutes. I haven’t sung it for about five years. I think that fate is telling me that I should return to it”. Composer Arkady Ostrovsky wrote the vocalise I’m Very Happy ‘cause I’m Finally Goin’ Home, but it took on life when it was coupled with Khil’s talents, as the performer always had intense energy, vivacity, and optimism. He was like that in Soviet times, and his répertoire reflected that. However, those days are over, and Khil, along with his songs, seemed to disappear from the stage and from the TV. The former idol of millions had to leave to work abroad. His conservatory training from his native St Petersburg came in handy here, as he moved on to other genres, he sang Russian romances in Paris at the “Rasputin” Cabaret.
He did that for three years, but Khil couldn’t take it any more… his homesickness for Russia tortured him. He returned home, knowing full well that he had no prospects. He couldn’t know that, soon, people would say that he “blew open the internet”, and opened up new opportunities for a continued artistic life for himself. Until recently, his fans believed that he’d be able to go on a world tour, because, despite his age, he continued to perform and was in good shape. Nevertheless, again, fate decreed differently.
Edward Gil was born on 4 September 1934 in Smolensk. After graduating in 1960 from the Rimsky-Korsakov Leningrad State Conservatory, he began as a soloist with Lenkontsert, performing a classical and chamber repertoire. He participated in the productions of the Opera Studio of the Conservatory, where he made his début whilst still a student. Khil performed many leading operatic roles in productions of The Marriage of Figaro, The Barber of Seville, Yevgeni Onegin, and The Queen of Spades, amongst others. In 1962, he first took part in a pop concert, at the Central House of Artists in Moscow. Khil quickly became one of the most beloved and popular singers. His repertoire includes such famous songs as С чего начинается Родина? (Where does the Motherland Begin?), У леса на опушке (At the Edge of the Forest), На безымянной высоте (On a Nameless Height), А люди уходят в море (And People Go To Sea), Голубые города (Blue City), Как хорошо быть генералом (How Good It Is to Be a General). In 1968, Eduard Khil became an Honoured Artist of the RSFSR; in 1974, he went on to become a People’s Artist of the RSFSR.
Until recently, Khil toured extensively in Russia and CIS countries with the concert programme, “Eduard Khil and Sons”. In 2010, the singer became internationally known for the song I’m Very Happy ‘cause I’m Finally Goin’ Home. The video on YouTube gained great popularity in many countries around the world. That’s why Eduard Anatolyevich became known as “Mr Trololo”. Eduard Khil received the Order of the Red Banner of Labour, the Order of Friendship of Peoples, and the Order of Merit for the Fatherland, 4th class. He won the Lenin Komsomol Prize in 1976.
4 June 2012
Voice of Russia World Service