I was living with my family in Athens and the fact that my parents had little interest in monitoring my comings and goings made our house the best place for Jimmy to crash at when he would come to visit his cousin Annetta who he was madly in love with.
His family saw their relationship as a catastrophe and he had to visit the country secretly while convincing his mother that he was in Florida or upstate New York.
But this page still serves its purpose as an introduction to Rembetika and Laika (Greek Popular Music) for the uninitiated and even if you are already a fan you may learn or hear something new.
Rembetika music is the music of the Greek Underground.
When I first wrote this article in the mid-nineties there was little if any information about Rembetika music on the internet.
Now you can find hundreds of web sites paying homage to the music, the artists and the songs of this genre just by Googling 'rembetika'.
It originated in the hashish dens of Pireaus and Thessaloniki around the turn of the 20th century and was influenced by oriental elements that came with the forced immigration of 2 million Greek refugees from Asia Minor.
It gave way to Greek Popular Music ('Laika' in Greek) which used the same instruments in similar ways during the early 1950s.
The songs I have chosen are my favorites, some old rembetika, some new rembetika and some laika which is what rembetika metamorphosed into with influences from all other types of Greek music.But Greece is a small country and she always knew Jimmy was there. Andonis Tourkogiorgis was the lead-singing bass player and the guitarist was Yanni Spathas who at the time was rivaled only by Hendrix.I have used mostly later recordings of the songs because the sound quality is better and they are more likely to get you to go out and start your collection.My introduction to Greek Rembetika music began in 1973 with a visit from my musical mentor Jimmy Hatzidimitriou who later became known as Jimi Quidd, lead singer of the NY punk-pop band the Dots and the man who discovered and produced the legendary Bad Brains.This page will give you a brief introduction to Rembetika music and hopefully inspire you to explore more deeply into it.
If you are hearing music as you read this then you are in luck.