- Gail Holst-Warhaft
(b Syros, 1905; d Athens, 1972). Song-writer, bouzouki-player, and singer. Vamvakaris is considered the father of the rebetiko style. He moved to Piraeus at the age of 12 and frequented hashish dens where refugees from Turkey gathered to smoke and play music. Together with two refugee musicians, Anestis Delias and Stratos Pagioumtzis, and a local player, Yiorgos (Giorgos), Vamvakaris formed a quartet that defined the characteristics of the ‘Piraeus-style’ rebetika. The music was strongly influenced by the popular urban style of Turkey, but the combination of Vamvakaris’s bouzouki-playing with lyrics he wrote about his tough life in the underworld of Piraeus transformed the music into a new Greek style.
From 1934 to 1935 the quartet played regularly in a small club in Piraeus where Vamvakaris wrote many of the songs that became classics of the rebetika repertory, such as Antilaloun oi fylakes (‘The prisons ring out’), Kantone Stavro!...