Notable African Deaths of 2021: Ethiopia’s Alemayehu Eshete

Known as the Ethiopian Elvis, Alemayehu became an iconic figure on Ethiopia's jazz scene from the 1960s and performed right up until his last years. (Getty Images)

BBC

Notable African deaths of 2021: From ‘Ethiopia’s Elvis’ to mega pastors

As 2021 [comes] to a close, it is time to remember some of the pioneering, inspiring and controversial figures on the African continent who died this year.


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Here is a look at 10 of those to whom we have said farewell.

MUSICIAN Alemayehu Eshete, 80

Known as the Ethiopian Elvis, Alemayehu became an iconic figure on Ethiopia’s jazz scene from the 1960s and performed right up until his last years. From his young days, he was known for his cover versions of Elvis Presley and told the Guardian in 2008 that James Brown later became a great influence.


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“I dressed like an American, grew my hair, sang Jailhouse Rock and Teddy Bear – sometimes we would do Strangers in the Night. But the moment that I started singing Amharic songs my popularity shot up,” he said.

In its notes about one of his albums, record seller Rough Trade said “he didn’t so much sing to his audience as seduce it, working himself and his fans into a sweat-soaked frenzy”.

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Related:

International Legacy of Ethiopia’s Music Legend Alemayehu Eshete

Remembering Alemayehu Eshete: Ethiopian Music Legend Passes Away at 80

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