I, like thousands of other fans, was totally shocked and deeply saddened to hear that singer Pantelis Pantelidis had tragically died in a car accident last Thursday (18 February).
The fatal incident occurred at 8.20am on Vouliagmenis Avenue in the area of Elliniko, southern Athens. Speaking about the incident, residents living in an apartment block overlooking the high-speed road said they rushed to their balconies after hearing what one resident described as “a massive bang, like a train and a truck colliding.”
Pantelidis, 32, was reportedly driving when he lost control of his Mercedes SUV; the vehicle ran off course and crashed against the safety barriers at a speed of what is reported to be between 90-150kph; the impact was so severe, a steel barrier entered the car through the driver’s side and one of the two female passengers travelling with the singer was thrown out of the vehicle.
While investigations continue into the reasons for the crash, paramedics said Pantelidis suffered severe head injuries and passed away as he was being transferred to a hospital in Voula.
Pantelidis was born in Athens on 23rd November 1983 and grew up in the neighbourhood of Nea Ionia. A self-taught musician, he abandoned a career in the Hellenic Navy to pursue his musical ambitions.
From a tender young age, he began writing songs which he filmed and sent to friends, who then posted them on YouTube launching his popularity. Pantelidis did not attain fame through a record company, but instead stole the hearts of many fans strumming his guitar in his little room at home. By the time he signed his first contract and released his debut album in 2012, he already had a huge fan base.
What followed was one success after another at an incredible rate….it all happened so fast, as did his death, which came sooner than anyone could have ever imagined.
Pantelidis’ songs are based on personal experiences – including one written for his mother, titled Athena. His lyrics speak of love; relationships he and his friends had lived through; stories that touched so many people because they could relate to them. Together with simple yet characteristic melodies, he had everyone talking about him.
Pantelidis performed in some of Greece’s biggest music venues, alongside the biggest names in the business. His first album Alchoolikes E Nihtes reached double platinum status.
People loved him for his simplicity and his down-to-earth personality, which came across in interviews – success did not change him a bit. He was well liked among his colleagues and everyone had a good word to say about him.
Just a few days before his death however, the singer became a target after a song dedicated to his Cypriot fans during a concert in Nicosia, his last ever live performance, triggered outrage. Written with good intentions, the lyrics refer to a young woman looking for her Turkish lover in the occupied areas of Cyprus, sparking criticism from the likes of songwriter George Theofanous and various TV presenters. Totally blown out of proportion in my opinion but hey, there’s a lot of jealousy in this world.
Pantelidis immediately took to Facebook to apologise. He wrote: “Writing lyrics as always guided by soul, I wrote a song about a girl who broke up with her Greek boyfriend and chose to be with a wealthy Turkish man from the occupied areas. So I mentioned in the lyrics: “What are you doing? Are you selling your country? Characterising it ‘trashy’.” It is a love story based on true events which affected me. Whether I am aware of the seriousness of the word ‘occupied’ and whether I respect the Greek Cypriots, I do not need to say anything more other than for most of my life I’ve been in the military defending the Greek and Cypriot flag and I was always ready to give my life if necessary and that’s why I’ve received military awards and decorations from my country. I ask for forgiveness from those who condemn me, but unfortunately they have wrongly interpreted the song. Nevertheless, because of this misunderstanding, I decided as minimum respect to my Cypriot friends, to withdraw the song. Thank you all.”
Just a day before the long-awaited premiere at TEATRO night club with Despina Vandi and Kostas Martakis, Pantelis was tragically taken too soon. Ironically, he wrote on his official Facebook page on the Monday: “Premiera plisiazei …. kollise to gazi.”
Hundreds of fans flocked to the crash site to place flowers and light candles following his death.
Over 15,000 people attended his funeral on Saturday including singers such as Antonis Remos (according to latest reports it is the family’s wish that some of Pantelis’ unreleased songs be given to Remos to record), Despina Vandi, Kostas Martakis, Natasa Theodoridou, Vasilis Karras, Eleni Foureira, Angeliki Iliadi, Makis Christodoulopoulos, Giorgos Tsalikis, Giorgos Mazonakis, Amaryllis, Tamta, Panos Kallides and Stan.
A great loss for his loved ones and all those he touched through his music. A success story which began four years ago was sadly cut short so suddenly. His music though will live on forever.
Rest in Peace Pantelis.