Lefteris Hapsiadis, born on October 23, 1953, and leaving us on October 2, 2023, was a celebrated Greek lyric author, poet, and novelist. His literary legacy is a treasure trove of poems, novels, and lyrics that have left an indelible mark on contemporary Greek music and literature. His profound impact is felt through his lyrics for over 525 songs, spanning the genres of contemporary Greek rebetika, laïka (pop music), and elafra (light music).
Early Life and Roots
Lefteris Hapsiadis was born in Feres, a town located in the northeastern region of Greece, bordering Turkey to the east and Bulgaria to the north. He often referred to Koila, where he spent his early years, as his “Paradise on Earth.” Hapsiadis’s family roots traced back to Pontos, a region along the Black Sea coast in present-day Turkey. He cherished his Pontos heritage and actively participated in preserving its cultural legacy.
After attending high school in Alexandroupolis, the capital of the Evros Prefecture, Hapsiadis moved to Athens to immerse himself in the world of rebetika, a genre of Greek music rooted in urban culture. It was during this time that he began building relationships with key figures in the Greek pop music industry.
The Songwriter’s Journey
Hapsiadis had a unique passion for rebetika, the songs of “manges” (members of inner-city and urban slum gangs in the early 20th century). While his peers enjoyed pop and rock music, he delved deep into the world of rebetika, collecting lyrics and immersing himself in the genre’s history. This passion for rebetika would become the foundation of his career as a lyricist.
One of his most popular songs, “Mia einai i ousia” (“One matter counts”), was originally performed by Haris Alexiou and later by other artists, including Giorgos Dalaras. The lyrics humorously address immortality and beg God to eliminate Death after having a few drinks. These lyrics are intertwined with a passage in his second novel, where the protagonist struggles to enter Paradise.
Another hit, “Kappoia, kapou, kapote” (“Some woman, somewhere, sometime”), performed by Giorgos Dalaras, reflects on a past love and the fleeting nature of time.
Songs for Friends
Hapsiadis collaborated extensively with composer Christos Nikolopoulos, and together they produced a memorable CD titled “Τραγούδια για τους φίλους μου” (“Songs for my friends”) in December 1986. The CD featured 12 songs performed by popular Greek artists, including Giorgos Dalaras, Haris Alexiou, Stratos Dionysiou, Giannis Parios, and Manolis Mitsias.
Beyond his contributions to music, Hapsiadis ventured into the world of literature, authoring three novels. These autobiographical novels shed light on the history of modern rebetika and include details of real-life events, locations, and personalities from the Greek music industry.
His novels are written in everyday spoken Greek and often feature verses within the text, adding depth to the narrative. Hapsiadis offers insights into the evolution of rebetika, spanning from the times of Markos Vamvakaris and Vassilis Tsitsanis to the present day. He candidly shares his experiences and observations, both of others and himself.
Honors and Recognition
Throughout his career spanning 25 years as a lyricist, Lefteris Hapsiadis received numerous Golden and Platinum record awards. His contributions to Greek Popular Music were acknowledged by the Prefecture of Evros and the Municipalities of Alexandroupolis and Feres, which organized concerts dedicated to his lyrical successes.
Lefteris Hapsiadis’s multifaceted talents as a lyricist, poet, novelist, and advocate for Greek cultural heritage have left an enduring legacy in the realms of both music and literature. His works continue to resonate with audiences, keeping the spirit of rebetika alive and inspiring new generations of artists and writers.