EUROPE – In 2019 we lost a number of Eurovision stars which either participated in Eurovision or national selections.
Natalya Pugacheva – Buranovskiye Babushki. The Head of Udmurtia, the region that the Buranovskiye Babushki’s are from, has announced the death of Natalia Pugacheva. Natalia was 83 years old and left a lasting impression on viewers across the world during the Eurovision Song Contest 2012. Following their performance at the Eurovision Song Contest, all of the members of the group were awarded the title of People’s Artist of the Udmurt Republic. Prior to their selection for Eurovision 2012, the grandmothers rose to fame finishing 3rd in Russia’s 2010 selection with the song “Dlinnaja-dlinnaja beresta i kak sdelat’ iz nee ajšon”
Kenny Lynch participated in the 1962 United Kingdom national final. Kenneth Lynch, OBE (18 March 1938 – 18 December 2019) was an English singer, songwriter, entertainer and actor. He appeared in many variety shows in the 1960s. At the time, he was among the few black singers in British pop music.
Dina 1992 Portuguese entrant. Ondina Veloso, known professionally as Dina, passed away on April 12, 2019, at age 62. Dina will be familiar to Eurovision fans for her 1992 entry “Amor d’água fresca” (“Fresh Water Love”) which came in 17th in the 23 country field. Outside of Eurovision, Dina released six albums, starting with “Dinamite” in 1982. Dina was also well-known for her soundtrack work, and if you watched Portuguese telenovelas during the 1980s and 1990s, you will most likely have come across her work. Though she did not address her sexuality much in interviews, Dina came out as a lesbian in 1996.
Tamar Babilua participant in Georgian National Selection 2015 and Georgian Idol 2019. Babilua was a piano prodigy, and outside of Niutone attempted some audacious records. She broke the Georgian domestic record for continuous playing at 25 hours. She did train to break the international record of 127 hours, but her doctors advised her against it due to her health condition.
Les Reed the 1965 United Kingdom entrant. Leslie David Reed OBE (24 July 1935 – 15 April 2019) was an English songwriter, arranger, musician and light-orchestra leader. His major songwriting partners were Gordon Mills, Barry Mason, and Geoff Stephens, although he wrote songs with many others such as Roger Greenaway, Roger Cook, Peter Callander, and Johnny Worth. Reed co-wrote around sixty charting songs, and is best known for “It’s Not Unusual”, “Delilah”, “The Last Waltz” and “Marching On Together”. His songs gained a number of gold discs and Ivor Novello Awards. Allmusic noted that “In the mid-1960s, it was unusual for a British singles chart not to list a Les Reed song”. He won the British Academy Gold Badge of Merit in 1982.
Sandie Jones 1972 entrant for Ireland. Born in 1954 in Crumlin, Ireland, Jones was one of 11 children. She began her recording career in 1969, releasing five singles before she was selected by Ireland to perform the Joe Burkett and Liam Mac Uistin penned “Ceol an Ghrá.” Though she did not fare too well in Edinburgh, the single made it to Number 1 on the Irish charts. She followed it up with “What do I do?” later that year, another smash hit for Jones that landed at Number 1.
Karel Gott 1965 entrant of Austria. Shortly before Soviet tanks rolled into Prague in August 1968 to snuff out Czechoslovakia’s brief liberalization from Communist rule, known as the Prague Spring, Gott performed “Tausend Fenster” for Austria at Eurovision 1968 in London. Gott was a rare performer popular both inside and out of the Iron Curtain, singing in Czech, German, English, Italian and Russian (his biggest album to date is his 1977 album “Melodiya,” which sold 4.5 million copies in the former Soviet Union alone).
Eduardo Nascimento the 1967 entrant for Portugal. Nascimento was the first black male artist to perform at Eurovision with his 5th-placed 1967 entry “O Vento Mudou” (“The Wind has Changed”), one year after Surinamese singer Milly Scott became the first black female artist to perform at Eurovision 1966 for The Netherlands.
Mamuka Gaganidze – The Shin & Mariko – Georgia – 2014. As a member of The Shin, he was the male vocalist and drummer for “Three Minutes to Earth,” Georgia’s 2014 entry which is commonly referenced on fan lists of eccentric entries at Eurovision. Though the band’s effort with vocalist Mariko Ebralidze failed to qualify for the Grand Final, there is no doubting the quality of The Shin and their unique blending of Western jazz, Georgian polyphonic singing and Eastern instrumentation that made them so beloved in both Georgia and several jazz communities across Europe, particularly Germany.