The early years

He was born on May 10, 1905 in the Skali suburb of Ano Chora of Syros to a Catholic family (for this reason he was later nicknamed "Fragos"). His parents were poor farmers and he was the first of six siblings. His grandfather wrote songs and his father played ham, while young Marcos accompanied the latter playing the tumbi (island drum) at various festivals. Due to the poor financial situation of his family, Mark was forced to leave school and work as a glaze maker, newspaper clerk, spinning worker, assistant in a fruit shop, and more.

In 1917, at the age of 12, he left Syros after unintentionally threw a rock at the roof of a house and went to Piraeus, where his family was later followed. There he worked in various professions, such as dockworker (freight forwarder, coal worker in the so-called "coal mines") and from 1925 to 1935 as a freelancer at Piraeus and Athens Municipal Slaughterhouses.

At 21 he had his first marriage. He married Helen Mavroides, Zigola as she was called. [1]

At that time, according to his autobiography, he accidentally heard Nikos Aivaliotis play bouzouki, which coincided with and changed his life and he began learning bouzouki and writing his first songs.


He participated with George Batis, Stratos Paioumtzis and Anestis Delia in the pioneering music band for the season "The Tetris of Piraeus". In 1933, following Spyros Peristeris's pressing urge, Mark recorded the first commercially successful song in Greece, "Karadouzeni" (or "I had to come in my dude"), interpreting it yourself, it was about the quality of his voice. The success of this recording marked the history of Greek Discography, since many great rebetiko composers such as Kostas Skarvelis, Spyros Peristeris and Panagiotis Tountas began recording with a folk orchestra.

The period just before World War II is perhaps its most productive. Among other things, in 1935 he wrote and phonographed "Frangosiriani" (perhaps his most famous song), but it became very successful 25 years later with the voice of Gregory Bithikotsis. He tells himself about the creation of the song:

"The whole world of Syros loved me very much, because I was a Syrian and I was proud of the Syrians. Every summer I was expected to go to Syria to play and have all the fun with me. In 1935 I took Batis, my younger brother and pianist Rovertakis with me and went to Syros for the first time, almost twenty years after I left the island. So I started playing in a beach shop, the whole crowd was gathered. Every night the crowd filled the store and I sat there for about two months. When I was playing and singing, I was always looking down, unable to look at the world, I lost. But wherever I was playing, I raise my head for a moment and see a pretty girl. Her eyes were black. I didn't lift my head again, I was just thinking about it at night, I was thinking about it ... So I got a pencil and I wrote a draft:

A flare, a flame I have in my heart As if my magic made you sweet Frankish ...

I don't even know how she was called, nor does she know that the song is about her. When I returned to Piraeus, I wrote Fragosiriani. "

Marriages and their influence on his career

Markos Vamvakaris proved unfortunate in his marriage to Zigola, with the divorce not to be delayed. But even after the divorce, Zigola still had financial demands. To avoid copyright seizure due to litigation, he used his grandfather's name (Rocos) as a nickname, while several of his songs have been registered in the names of his friends, such as Spyros Peristeris, G. Fotidas, Ath. Pangalaki, Minos Matsas and others. In this way he was able to reduce his personal imputed (and not real) income to the minimum and his first wife to get nothing. For this story, Mark wrote autobiographical songs such as "The Divorce". "I used to be once"

The Silk Age

1937 is compatible with the censorship of the Metaxas regime and adapts its lyrics by removing the heavy hassle-free style, which after years he himself admits was a creative shift. He was so popular that on one of the three occasions he visited Thessaloniki and gave a concert, he gathered 50,000 people to listen to him on the White Tower Square. In the song "In 1912" he sings in Thessaloniki, but strangely until then he had not even mentioned a song about Piraeus, the city where he lived and created. During the Greek-Italian war he sings his own songs, as well as Spyros II's.

All information above is from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia