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Biography

  • Born

    14 February 1954

  • Born In

    Athens, Attiki, Greece

  • Died

    13 January 2018 (aged 63)

Tzimis Panousis (Δημήτρης "Τζίμης" Πανούσης, 12 February 1954 – 13 January 2018) was a Greek musician and stand-up comedian born in Athens, where he has spent most of his life. His fans often refer to him as “Tzimakos” (little Jim). He was married to Lili Achladioti and has a son, Aris and a daughter Fotini.

Panousis made his first appearance in the mid-1970s, performing in various pubs, with his band "Mousikes Taxiarhies" (Musical Brigades, Greek: Μουσικές Ταξιαρχίες). Panousis was the vocalist and main composer of the group. Their first (unofficial) album was Disco Tsoutsouni (Disco Weenie) released in 1980. It was an illegally published tape, many songs of which were later rerecorded for the band's official debut, their eponymous album in 1982. The band went under the alias "Alamana's Bridge" to make a guest appearance with two songs in the compilation album Made in Greece. In 1986, Mousikes Taxiarhies was disbanded and Panousis went solo. His subsequent successful career showed that he could be a band on his own.

Since his debut, Panousis has introduced a controversial style of rock music with humorous and sarcastic lyrics. His songs include caustic remarks on the political and social reality of Greece. His varied musical style includes mostly rock, but also reggae and rembetiko. In his live performances, Panousis delivers sarcastic comments about current events and Greek musicians and personalities. He often interacts with his audience, in a unique type of stand-up comedy, and is also notorious for his on-stage phone pranks.

Discography

1980: Disco Tsoutsouni
1982: Mousikes Taxiarhies
1984: An I Giagia Mou Ihe Rouleman
1985: Hard Core (Live)
1986: Kaggela Pantou (First solo album after Mousikes Taxiarhies)
1987: Himia Ke Terata
1990: Doulies Tou Kefaliou (Live)
1992: O Roben Ton Hazon (Live)
1993: Vivere Pericolosamente
2000: Me Lene Popi (Live)
2002: Digma Dorean
2003: Dourios Ihos
2009: Tis Patridas Mou I Simea (Live)
2013: Obi-Obi-Bi
2013: Prosehos Voulgares
2014: Mastura ambient
2015: I katyusha tou KKE / Igiini Diastrofi

Panousis has had several run-ins with the Greek authorities. His second album, Musical Brigades (Μουσικές Ταξιαρχίες in Greek), was briefly withdrawn from circulation in 1982 because of the ostensibly blasphemous lyrics of a love ballad. In 1984, censors placed beeps over some of the lyrics in Mousikes Taxiarhies's third album, An I Giagia Mou Ihe Rouleman (If My Grandma Had Wheels).

In 1997, a court battle with well-known Greek singer George Dalaras began. Panousis had frequently been making fun of Dalaras in his live shows, showing money coming out of his mouth whenever he sang. The court ruled that Panousis would be charged with a one million Drachmas fine (approximately $3,000) every time he mentioned Dalaras by name on-stage. Panousis's response to that, was to call him "the unmentionable" in his shows from then on, and use his famous on-stage quip, "Ladies and gentlemen, I have 3 million drachmas to spare: Dalaras, Dalaras, Dalaras!"

All this has contributed to the depiction of Panousis as a highly controversial artist. Some regard him as a modern-day Aristophanes while many consider that his pranks and commentaries are of bad taste. Panousis often uses offensive language, while the advertising posters of his depict provocative images. In one instance, he replaced the cross of the Greek flag with a communist hammer and sickle, for which he was charged with a four-month probation. In another instance, he appeared dressed as a priest with a medallion hanging around his neck which depicted the head of a chicken instead of Mary. This elicited the angry reaction of Archbishop Christodoulos, the late head of the Church of Greece.

Panousis has been accused by the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece of expressing antisemitic views, not seldom in connection with his standpoint in the Israel-Palestine conflict. During an episode of his satirical show Δούρειος Ήχος ("Trojan Sound") at the radio channel City 99,5 in 2009, he used expressions such as "Jews - Pigs - Murderers may you die a horrible death" and " the jews control all the banks in the American empire, they control all of the show biz ", while also referring to the conflict in Gaza.

In 2013, Greek Jewish organisations were appalled by the use of a symbol consisting of the David star entwined with a swastika (the symbol itself is used by the Raelites) for the posters of his show "Troika Club". In relation to this symbol, Panousis has been using the term "nazi Jews" ("εβραιοναζί" in Greek) when describing current Israeli politics.

Panousis has hosted various radio shows for more than 15 years. He is also the author of six books (a peculiar type of sarcastic essays). Moreover, he has appeared in four movies: the most notable is The Dracula of Exarcheia (1981, directed by Nicos Zervos), where Panousis is the protagonist. From September 2008 to June 2009, he has been hosting a 30-minute radio show, called Dourios Ihos (Trojan Sound) at the radio station "City 99,5". The show was hosted in "Radio Thema 98,9".

Panousis died on 13 January 2018 after suffering a heart attack at his home in Athens.

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