One of the pioneering artists to popularise Greek music in Israel, Aris San was a Greek-Israeli musician, singer and nightclub owner.
Though his later life was shrouded in mystery, he is probably most remembered for the captivating style he brought to the music of the 1950’s and 1960’s. Through his unique arrangements, (electric) guitar playing and striking vocal style he shaped and influenced many artists to come – his creative melding of different styles of music opened Israeli society to Greek and Mizrahi music (a genre in Israel that combines elements from Europe, the Middle East and North Africa).
When he was just 17, Aris San decided to leave Greece and headed to Israel. This adventure transported his music into another dimension and he became one of the first musicians to use an electric guitar in Greek music as an amplified imitation of the sound of the traditional bouzuki. His musical career spanned over thirty years and in the late 1960’s he cut lots of records for CBS, amongst other labels.
Possibly one of his best known tracks was the hugely infections Boumpam, which was released in 1967 on Israeli label A.Z.R (“Azoulay-Zaki-Raphael”). Backed with the more traditional sounds of Paploma, this track became an instant hit nation-wide, igniting the “Greek Craze” which dominated Israeli taverns for nearly a decade. Replacing bouzoukis with electric guitars, San gave Greek music a psychedelic edge making it popular with the many a music fan in Tel Aviv. Once this gets into your head, it may take a while to shift, but this is definitely not a bad thing!
Check it out above and treat yourself to a yummy live version (from 1970) below!
If you are interested in reading more about this curious musician, I’ve also found an article worth a read, find that here!