Eduard Anatolevich Khil is dead.
The Russian baritone -- a singing legend of the Soviet era who found renewed fame, this time internationally, in 2010 via YouTube -- succumbed Monday in St. Petersburg after suffering a debilitating stroke in April. He was 77.
The Moscow Times reports:
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev expressed his condolences for the performer Monday.
“The death of this outstanding singer, Eduard Khil, is an irreplaceable loss for our culture,” he said in a statement on the White House website. Khil’s songs were “dear to people of different generations, loved not only in our country, but also abroad,” he wrote.
President Vladimir Putin also expressed his condolences to Khil’s wife and son.
Born Sept. 4, 1934, in Smolensk, Khil became famous as a singer in the Soviet Union, performing the songs “Loggers,” “The Moonstone” and “Blue City,” among others.
He also performed “From Where the Motherland Begins,” a song from the 1968 cult spy thriller “The Sword and the Shield,” which regained notoriety recently when Putin said he had sung it when he met the 10 Russian spies expelled from the United States in 2010.
Khil’s popularity faded after the fall of the Soviet Union, but he shot back into the spotlight in 2010 when footage of him performing his wordless 1966 song “I’m Very Glad That I’m Finally Coming Home” appeared on YouTube and immediately went viral.
The song’s joyous “la la la” vocalizations earned Khil the name “Trololo Man” among Western audiences. Several versions of the video have since been posted, with many having received millions of views.
Numerous spoof versions — including one stitched-together video appearing to show Khil unleashing a 10-hour stream of vocal acrobatics and another laid over scenes from “Star Trek”— have also appeared.
The song originally included lyrics about a cowboy riding a mustang in the United States, but the words were deemed anti-Soviet, and it was performed with Khil just humming the melody, he told LifeNews in a 2010 interview.
Khil said he only learned about the newfound popularity of the song after hearing his grandson humming the decades-old tune.
“I asked him, ‘Why [are] you singing it?’” Khil said. “He told me, ‘Grandpa, you’re home drinking tea here, [and] in the meantime, everyone’s singing your song on the Internet.’”
YOU KNOW, the guy was a hell of a singer. I'm glad he got the chance to revel in Act II of his long career before he died. For example, this performance on Russian TV early this year:
REST in peace, Mr. Khil. You earned it.