Music > News > 25 Years Since the Death of Zohar Argov

25 Years Since the Death of Zohar Argov

"Zohar was born on a Saturday, in Rehovot. At the Rehovot birth center. At three in the afternoon. He was born healthy, 3.3 kilos. It was my first birth, I needed stitches. Right as I was giving birth, my husband went to the synagogue. And Rabbi Sharabi was there, the one everyone around here always goes to. My husband said to him, "I have a son". So the Rabbi told him, "Good, you had a son call him Zohar". Because they were reading the "Zohar" in the synagogue… so my husband called him Zohar".

 

(Yona Orkabi, Zohar Argov's mother, from "Black: The Life and Death of Zohar Argov" by Rino Zror)

​​He was called the "King" while still alive. Zohar Argov (1955-1987), singer, was one of the leading figures of the Mizrachi and Mediterranean genre in Israel, and this week marks 25 years since his death. Zohar Argov was born in Rehovot, the eldest son of Ovadia and Yona Orkabi, who emigrated from Yemen. Like his dad, who was musically inclined and performed as a wedding singer accompanied by the traditional snare drum, it was evident that young Zohar also possessed musical talents, especially as a singer. When he was 22 he released his first record, which included the songs "Kol Yom She'over" (Each Day that Passes) and "Yalda Chikiti Shanim" (Girl I've Waited for Years), and at the same time also changed his last name to "Argov", at the advice of his manager. Later on he met the guitarist of the band "Zlilei Haod", Yehuda Keisar, who was impressed by Argov's voice and recorded "Elinor" using a four-channel home tape – the "first 'chafla' tape" by Argov to be widely distributed immediately after its release. More than five hundred thousand copies were sold and Argov instantly became a famous singer.

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One of his most recognized hit songs is "Haperach Begani" (The Flower in My Garden), written by Avihu Medina and performed by Argov at the Mizrachi Music Festival in 1982. "I made 'The Flower' for him", said Medina, "and when the song was ready, I invited him. He came with Asher Reuveni. I played the song for him. He heard it and didn't love it." The song was later given to Shimi Tavori and was eventually performed by Argov. Especially memorable is the musical opening with its dramatic Spanish and even Flamenco flavor "pam pam pam plllaaaaahhh…" that was incorporated into the symphonic arrangement.
 
 
The Music Department at the National Library contains many recordings and score sheets by Zohar Argov and from the genre in general. Among these are records released in Argov's memory, including "Friends Sing Zohar" – new renditions of Argov's songs performed by forty two of Israel's greatest artists.
 
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Printed versions of Argov's songs have appeared in various publications, many of which can be found in the Meir Noi Mizrachi Music Collection. For example, the anthology "Silsul Israeli: 50 Years of Israeli Mediterranean Music", which includes songs (lyrics and music) in chronological order, along with notes by leading figures of Mediterranean music, including Avihu Medina, Joe Amar, Shimon Parnas, Ahuva Ozeri, and others.
 
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The book "Black" by journalist Rino Zror was published not long ago. The book tells the story of the "King" of Mediterranean music, Zohar Argov, as told by fifteen of his closest friends. The book includes conversations with Argov's personal confidants, such as his mother Yona Orkabi, his sister Malka Redi, Ahuva Ozeri, Avihu Medina, Yehuda Keisar, Shimi Tavori, and others. 
   
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