Friday 22 August 1980


Edition number - 8
Date - August 19-22, 1980
Location - Finlandia Hall, Helsinki (Finland)
Orchestra - Light Music Orchestra of Finnish Radio
Musical director - Esko Linnavalli
Number of participating countries - 7 (?, no information about entries from Sweden or Denmark)
Jury president - unknown
Overall winning entry / best production - Netherlands / Han Reiziger
Awards best vocalist - Greetje Kauffeld (Netherlands) / Alex Sandøy (Norway) / Olivia Molina (West Germany) 
Award best solo instrumentalist - Noel Kelehan (Ireland)
Award best arrangement - Jerry van Rooyen (Netherlands)

The Netherlands' 1980 Nordring representatives, from left: Charly Mariano, Gé Titulaer, Jasper van 't Hof, Greetje Kauffeld, Ack van Rooyen, Dolf van der Linden, Ronald Snijders, and Jerry van Rooyen


Programme - “It’s Only Belgian Music”
Soprano - Monique Hanoulle
Bass baritone - Frans van Eetvelt
Clarinet - Walter Boeykens
Flute - Dirk De Caluwé
French horn - André Van Driessche
Arrangement - Frank Engelen
Conductor - Willy De Cart
Production - Yvonne Verelst

Programme - “Satumaa”
Narrator - Neil Hardwick
Vocals - Ami Aspelund / Irina Milan / Vesa-Matti Loiri / Hakan Streng
Guitar - Jukka Tolonen
Script - Neil Hardwick
Arrangement - Esko Linnavalli
Conductor - Esko Linnavalli
Production - Erkki Lehtola
Programme - “Un paseo en el sol (A Walk in the Sun)”
Vocals - Mary Sheridan / William Young
Piano - Noel Kelehan
Guitar - Louis Stewart
Arrangement - Noel Kelehan
Production - Johnny Devlin

Programme - “The Wise Man”
Vocals - Greetje Kauffeld / Gé Titulaer
Piano - Jasper van ‘t Hof 
Soprano saxophone, alto saxophone & nagaswaram - Charlie Mariano 
Bugle - Ack van Rooyen
Flute & percussion - Ronald Snijders
Composition - Jerry van Rooyen / Jasper van ‘t Hof / Charly Mariano
Arrangement - Jerry van Rooyen
Production - Han Reiziger

Programme - “Come Fly with Me”
Vocals - Alex Sandøy / Terje Stensvold
Reeds - Harald Bergersen
Script - Else Michelet
Arrangement - Carsten Klouman
Conductor - Carsten Klouman
Production - Else Michelet

Programme - “Gershwin – Yesterday and Today”
Vocals - Colin Anthony / Sarah King
Reeds - Dick Morrissey
Trumpet, flugelhorn - Alan Downey
Arrangement - Barry Forgie 
Conductor - Barry Forgie
Production - Robin Sedgley

Programme - “Kurt Weill in Concert”
Vocals - Olivia Molina / Reiner Schöne
Saxophone - Wilton Gaynair
Arrangement - Karl Heinz Loges
Conductor - Karl Heinz Loges
Production - Helga Boddin

Winner of the award for best solo instrumentalist at the 1980 Nordring Festival: Irish pianist Noel Kelehan

Saturday 19 April 1980


Born: 1942, Falces (Spain)
Died: August 8th, 2006
Nationality: Spanish

In due course, the short impression below will be replaced with a more extensive career overview


Javier Iturralde was of Basque descent and a younger brother of saxophone legend Pedro Iturralde (1929-2020). For most of his professional life, he stayed in Madrid. Javier Iturralde wrote and recorded arrangements in the studio with artists including Joxean Larranaga ‘Urko’, Julio Iglesias, Luis Cobos, Elsa Baeza, and Joaquín Sabina. Together with Jorge Machado, he wrote the orchestration to two entries in the 1979 Portuguese Eurovision heats, among which the eventual number two, ‘Eu só quero’ by Gabriela Schaaf. Later on, in the 1990s, Iturralde was a saxophonist in Eduardo Leiva's television orchestra.


Javier Iturralde arranged and conducted ‘Quédate esta noche’, a song composed by José Antonio Martin and interpreted by Trigo Limpio. This song was chosen to represent Spain in the 1980 Eurovision Song Contest in The Hague and came twelfth in a field of nineteen contestants.


Country – Spain
Song title – "Quédate esta noche"
Rendition – Trigo Limpio 
(Luis Carlos Gil / Patricia Fernández / Iñaki de Pablo)
Lyrics – José Antonio Martin
Composition – José Antonio Martin
Studio arrangement – Javier Iturralde
Live orchestration – Javier Iturralde
Conductor – Javier Iturralde
Score – 12th place (38 votes)


The following article is an overview of the career of Italian-French guitarist and arranger Sylvano Santorio. The main source of information is an interview with Mr Santorio, conducted by Bas Tukker in Fontenay-sous-Bois, January 2013. The article below is subdivided into two main parts; a general career overview (part 3) and a part dedicated to Sylvano Santorio's Eurovision involvement (part 4).

All material below: © Bas Tukker / 2013

  1. Passport
  2. Short Eurovision record
  3. Biography
  4. Eurovision Song Contest
  5. Other artists about Sylvano Santorio
  6. Eurovision involvement year by year
  7. Sources & links

Born: August 29th, 1933, Florence (Italy)
Died: July 23rd, 2020, Fontenay-sous-Bois, Greater Paris (France)
Nationality: Italian


With Richard de Bordeaux and Richard Joffo, Italian-born Sylvano Santorio wrote the beat song ‘Hé, hé, m’sieurs, dames’. With this tune, vocal group Profil represented France in the 1980 Eurovision Song Contest. Santorio took care of the orchestration and conducted the orchestra in the international festival final in The Hague, Netherlands. This French entry finished eleventh.


Silvano – in arte Sylvano – Santorio was born in 1933 in Florence, Italy, where his father ran a restaurant and his mother worked as a hairdresser. “I had a happy childhood,” Santorio recalls. “Of course, the war years were not particularly pleasant for my parents, but things could have been worse. In World War II, the historic town of Florence – and we lived right in the centre of it – was not bombarded by either side. Therefore, as a child, I remained blissfully unaware of what was going on in the outside world. In my family, plenty of musical talent was available; my father was an amateur banjo and mandolin player, whilst one of my nieces, Margherita, played the first violin in a classical orchestra. When I was seven, she started teaching me that instrument. Frankly, at that time I would have preferred the piano, but that instrument was too expensive and impractical as well; it would not even have been possible to drag a piano up the stairs of our 16th century house.”

“I have been told I showed signs of talent right from the beginning. It was not long before I played along with the church harmonium player while he was rehearsing the music to be played for the mass. I came to the church specifically to pick up the harmonies of the organ and play them with my violin. Much to the organ player’s dismay, however, I hardly ever stayed for mass itself! Though both of my parents tried to inspire me to follow in their footsteps in terms of career choice, fortunately, it did not take them long to accept that music was my sole passion. I even took additional lessons to master the double-bass."

"At secondary school, I proved quite a good student, but I must admit that I was not really tested; that was the way students destined for the conservatory were treated... as everyone knew we were expected to study our instrument for hours a day in preparation of the admission exam, we were not given a hard time at the conventional school subjects.”

The aspiring violinist (c. 1943)

Although destined to be a classical violinist, young Silvano never got to conservatoire. “In the last year of the war, the Nazis had occupied the local music school and they damaged it quite seriously. Upon war’s end, it took a couple of years before the conservatory opened its doors, so I had to wait anyway. By the time they reopened, however, I had lost my appetite! I had discovered light entertainment music as I started visiting a local dancing bar on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. From scratch, I was fascinated by the little orchestra playing there. All members were young guys of my age, playing mostly contemporary American repertoire; Arthur Smith’s bebop records, for example."

"I became friends with them and wanted to join the band; but how could a violinist be of use for a dance orchestra? Occasionally, I improvised with them when they played some waltzes and tangos, but meanwhile I had taken up learning to play the guitar… because they were in need of a guitar player! My teacher was a classical guitarist called Mori. After some six months, I felt confident enough to start playing the new instrument on stage - and it worked. That was it! For the rest of my life, I never touched the violin again.”

Playing the guitar and the electric guitar, Silvano stayed with his friends’ band for 4 years (1951-55). “It took me long to get used to not playing from sheet music. I had been taught to sight-read music by my niece, but neither of my friends in the band knew how to do this. They simply imitated what they heard on the radio or on records. They lacked the technical know-how to have a go at more complicated jazz stuff, but all of them were great at interpreting bebop and rock. After leaving classical music behind, jazz became my passion, largely thanks to a great American jazz pianist who lived and worked Florence. He introduced me to the music of Oscar Peterson and Duke Ellington. Jamming with him, I picked up lots of things I would never have learnt just sticking to the straightforward rock-‘n’-roll of my own band. We were quite popular in town and made some nice money during those years, but we only played during weekends. All of us had daytime jobs, in my case lending my father a hand in his restaurant.”

The young guitarist (1953)

In 1955, Santorio was offered the opportunity to join the band of Renato Carosone, a Neapolitan singer whose fame extended across the whole of Italy. For three years, he played the guitar and mandolin in Carosone’s accompanying sextet. “Carosone must have been told about this young fledgling guitar player from Florence," Santorio smiles. "He was an interesting artist, interpreting Neapolitan songs, but in a modern way; even with a little rock flavour woven into it, occasionally. I detested having to play the mandolin so often, though, because this instrument uses the same chords as the violin – and I had come to abhor the violin! Carosone was very successful in those years and we even toured abroad, performing in Paris for a month. As with the dance orchestra in Florence, none of my fellow band members were able to read music. I tried to learn them the basics, giving them my solfège textbooks, and wrote down their parts, trying to show them that it was so much easier not having to play by heart all the time.”

After three years with Carosone, for whom he played the guitar on three studio albums recorded on the Pathé label as well, Santorio left his band, staying for three years with a ballroom orchestra which performed in a posh nightclub in Rome (1958-61). He occasionally went on the road accompanying Italian star vocalists such as Nilla Pizzi on stage. In 1961, however, Santorio took the radical step of leaving for Paris, France. How come? 

“In the record studios in Milan as well as in the nightclub in Rome, I had often met French musicians who told me there was plenty of studio work to be found in Paris. They were impressed by my way of playing the guitar, as I used the Binson Echorec, one of the earliest echo machines. In 1961, I fell in love with the daughter of a Venezuelan diplomat who worked for UNESCO in Paris. That was good enough a reason to finally try my luck as a musician in France! My ambition was not to stay in Paris, but to travel on to the USA to study at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. My girlfriend would have been quite willing to follow me there, but as soon as our little baby daughter was born, I felt the time for taking risks was over. Meanwhile, I made a decent living as a musician and I liked the studio work a lot. Therefore, I decided to stay; and have stayed since. Though I never took the trouble to swap my Italian passport for a French one, in my heart, I am a Frenchman. Paris is the most beautiful place on earth and France has allowed me to make it in music. I am forever grateful to this wonderful country.”

With Italian star-singer Nilla Pizzi (c. 1959)

During his first year in Paris, Santorio – from now on allowing his given name spelled the French way, Sylvano instead of Silvano – mainly made his money by playing in a nightclub in the Rue Pierre-Charron, waiting for the opportunity to work in the record studios. In 1962, he made his French studio debut in the session of ‘J’entends siffler le train’ with arranger Christian Chevallier. This song, with a distinct guitar part, was interpreted by Richard Anthony and became one of this vocalist’s biggest-ever hit successes. From that moment onwards, Santorio quickly established himself as one of the most sought-after session guitarists in Paris. 

“I was one of the generation of musicians dubbed les requins, the sharks. We were given this epithet by the older generation, because we took away their jobs; most of them did not read music and were not able to keep up with the scores which became increasingly complicated – too complicated for them to play. They were replaced by guys like me and Yvon Rioland, musicians with a classical background.” 

From 1962 to the early 1990s, Santorio worked in the recording studios as a guitarist, electric guitarist, banjo and bass player with all major arrangers, notably Jean-Claude Petit, Tony Rallo, and Jean-Claude Vannier, to name just a few.

In 1963

Following the huge success of ‘J’entends siffler le train’, singer Richard Anthony took Sylvano Santorio onto his live band. Santorio remained with Anthony throughout the 1960s, giving some two-hundred performances annually in the peak years. In those years, Santorio also accompanied young and coming female starlets Françoise Hardy and Sylvie Vartan on stage. Later onwards, in the 1970s and 1980s, he toured with the likes of Dalida, Claude François, Thierry Le Luron, and Sacha Distel. With Mireille Mathieu, he performed at concert venues in as far away as the Soviet Union and China.

In the world of television, Santorio was the guitarist in the orchestra of Télé-Dimanche (1965), a show which included the singing competition ‘Le Jeu de la Chance’, in which Mireille Mathieu and Thierry Le Luron won fame for the first time. Between 1965 and 1968, Sylvano was a member of the Raymond Lefèvre Orchestra in the hugely popular ORTF musical entertainment show Le Palmarès des Chansons, where all major artists performed their new work. In the subsequent 15 years, Lefèvre always called on Santorio in all TV shows for which he was the orchestra leader. 

Lefèvre was one of the greatest musicians I ever worked with. He was a friendly man, though he had no mercy for musicians who he thought performed below par. His style of conducting, not surprisingly given his classical background, was second to none. He is usually mentioned in the same breath as Paul Mauriat and Franck Pourcel, but on account of his astounding knowledge of music, I would say Lefèvre was the best of these three arrangers and conductors.”

Playing the guitar on stage with singer Richard Anthony (c. 1964)

In the 1960s, ever eager to expand his musical knowledge, Santorio took lessons in harmony and orchestration with André Hodeir. “Hodeir was a more than capable classical and jazz musician, who taught me and many other musicians of my generation – Tony Rallo, for example – valuable lessons. Arranging and orchestrating is often about coming up with effective countermelodies to balance the lead melody in a piece of music. While many struggle at this, I found these ideas came to me as a gift from above. At the time of the lessons with Hodeir, there was no question that I was going to do a lot of arranging work. I worked as a studio guitarist from early in the morning until late in the evening. Later onwards, some work came my way; not that much. I did not foster ambitions as a composer, but I would like to have written more arrangements. However, I am not the kind of person to press my name - too modest, perhaps. I have always been an anti-vedette, someone in the background!”

Though never a household name as a composer or arranger, Sylvano Santorio’s name popped up on record covers once in a while. In 1965, he composed Richard Anthony’s success ‘I Don’t Know What To Do’, while he was also credited as co-arranger of Guy Béart’s album ‘Vive la rose’ one year later. In 1978, he arranged ‘Le temps des cerises’, a minor disco hit for Lisette Malidor. In the early 80s, he was the arranging mastermind behind Frank Dana’s medley success ‘Mega slows Italiano’. As a solo artist, in the 1970s and early 1980s, Santorio – sometimes credited under his pseudonym Ike Matthews – recorded a series of instrumental albums with wonderful compositions and arrangements of his own, such as ‘Pop 2000’, ‘Pop Sound Disco’, and ‘Pop Guitar Sketches’. Over the years, these LPs have become collector items, cherished by music lovers across France and beyond. 

“All of these records were released on the Montparnasse 2000 label, but none were ever on sale for the general public. These pieces of music were intended to be used by TV stations as jingles and interludes. This has been quite a lucrative business, as many of these tunes were picked up by the major television companies.”

At work in the record studio, c. 1977

From the 80s onwards, Santorio had a close working relationship with composer Jack Arel. “I owe much to Jack. He helped me by having a lot of arranging work coming my way, though I was not that experienced when he first approached me. Apparently, he had confidence in me. My first job for him was orchestrating his soundtrack to the film La baraka. After that, many other projects followed”. 

Indeed, apart from more arrangements to Arel’s film music, such as Jean’s Tonic, Arel called upon Sylvano Santorio to arrange the music to TV programmes such as 30 millions d’amis for TF1. Moreover, Santorio played the guitar on Jack Arel’s solo big band album ‘Gravure universelle’ (1997), whilst providing arrangements for Arel’s theatre productions as well. For another long-time friend, Jean-Marie Hauser, Santorio penned the arrangements to his jazz album ‘Complicity’ (2009). From 1999 to 2001, Sylvano Santorio was under contract with private television channel Canal+, composing and arranging the music to several of their programmes, most notably the sketch show Blague à part. A couple of years later, in ’03, Santorio composed the soundtrack to the TV film Bonne nuit.

Santorio’s most enduring collaboration was with chanteuse Isabelle Aubret. He joined her band as a guitarist in 1983 and has been working with her ever since, playing the guitar parts on her studio albums and writing arrangements for recording sessions and live gigs. “After all those years, Isabelle has come to think of me as a member of her family. The two of us share a passion for jazz music. For stage performances, I lead the band, writing out all arrangements. In the studio, I usually take care of most of the scores for her as well. She fully trusts me in what I am doing, which makes for a very pleasant working relationship.”

Sylvano Santorio passed away in 2020 at the age of 86.

During the interview for this website - Fontenay-sous-Bois, January 2013


To the surprise of many, the French Eurovision pre-selection of 1980, in which vedettes such as Minouche Barelli and Frida Boccara participated, was won by the group Profil, consisting of two girls (Martine Bauer and Martine Havet) and three boys (Jean-Claude Corbel, Jean-Pierre Izbinski, and Francis Rignault) performing an up-beat dance tune, ‘Hé, hé, m’sieurs, dames’. The songwriting team consisted of Sylvano Santorio (composition, arrangement), Richard de Bordeaux, and Richard Joffo (lyrics).

Santorio, ever (too?) modest, now claims that he should not have been credited as sole composer of the song. “I was contacted by Richard de Bordeaux, who enjoyed quite some success as half of a singing duo with Daniel Beretta," Santorio explains. "Though he worked in a different corner of the entertainment industry, we were on good terms – distant friends, if you like. He told me about this nice song he had written for the French Eurovision selection. The lyrics by Joffo were all ready and De Bordeaux had the music virtually ready, but his problem was that he was not a professional musician and did not know how to put his ideas to paper. He wanted me to construct a maquette, in other words; a model, writing down his ideas in conventional music notation. I helped him out, giving him some ideas on how to put a finishing touch to it, but the idea for the music was really his. Apart from the orchestration which is mine, I should have been mentioned as co-composer at most. It really was a one-off involvement for me, as I did not harbour ambitions as a songwriter. Moreover, it is the only time I ever worked with Joffo and De Bordeaux.”

“Joffo and De Bordeaux brought together the 5 group members. Once the song was ready, they started auditioning for suitable artists. They could easily have compiled a quintet of able backing vocalists from the record studio, but someone must have decided that the factor looks should be taken into account seriously. The 5 group members were all young and good-looking, with a quite ok singing ability; but nothing special in that respect. All of them were excellent dancers, though – and as a group, they certainly had charisma! Our song was chosen for the pre-selection show here in Paris, but we entered it without any belief of being able to actually win it. When we won the right to represent France in the Eurovision Song Contest, all of us were astonished. Imagine, neither the songwriting team nor the performers had any reputation to speak of up to that point.”

With the Profil quintet, Sylvano Santorio travelled to the 1980 international Eurovision final, held in The Hague (Netherlands). Though without any experience as a conductor - and although the national final performance of the song had been conducted by TF1's own MD François Rauber -, he was invited by the TV channel to lead the Dutch orchestra himself. 

Single release of 'Hé, hé, m'sieurs dames', autographed by Sylvano Santorio 

“TF1 did not push a conductor of their own choice, instead asking me to take care of that job. Indeed, it was the first time I conducted an orchestra – let alone on television! I have never been trained as a conductor, but the main thing was indicating the right tempo – and that was not very difficult. For our entry, an up-tempo song, the drummer was of vital importance. Fortunately, the percussionist of the Dutch orchestra, with whom I established a nice little conversation in advance of the first rehearsal, was on my side and altogether proved an excellent professional. Quite many of the orchestra musicians spoke French, which made communication easy. As far as the orchestra was concerned, the tension I felt quickly subsided.”

“The singing quintet, however, was quite a different story. The group members were all very pleasant personalities, a joy to work with and eager to perform well, but they lacked experience and were extremely nervous. Guided by Richard de Bordeaux, they rehearsed the song endlessly, even in between rehearsals. Eventually, Richard and I took the decision to make things a little easier for them by allowing them to sing in unison. By slightly adapting the vocal arrangement in this way, we hoped to bring about a more relaxed performance. A suggestion from someone else, to play the song in a lower tempo, was rejected by me personally; our song was a rhythmical song, alors on fait du rhythme! Changing the tempo would not have been right given our original intentions.”

It was the first time France was not represented in the Eurovision Song Contest by a soloist, and replacing the traditional chanson approach for disco was a radical breach of styles which did not go down particularly well with the international jurors, who awarded France with 45 votes and a modest 11th place on the scoreboard. 

“After all our worrying throughout the week of preparations, we were satisfied that our 5 singers gave a fine performance. The song was very much up-to-date; no masterpiece, but a fine dance tune. Perhaps, the group looked too much like an ABBA rip-off. Trying to analyse our result, I think the European audience was not ready for a country like France to come up with a beat track. This was the kind of stuff which one expected from Britain or the Scandinavian countries. France was considered the country of melodious chansons – and we did exactly the opposite! But let's not be too overdramatic about what happened. The Eurovision Song Contest was a great event to be part of and I was not particularly in it to win. The song became a minor hit in France, so all in all there was little reason to complain.”

Profil on the Eurovision stage in The Hague, with Sylvano Santorio being just visible on the far right, conducting the orchestra


So far, it has not been possible to gather memories of other artists about Sylvano Santorio.


Country – France
Song title – “Hé, hé, m’sieurs, dames”
Rendition – Profil (Martine Bauer / Jean-Claude Corbel / Martine Havet / Jean-Pierre Izbinski / Francis Rignault)
Lyrics – Richard de Bordeaux / Richard Joffo
Composition – Sylvano Santorio
Studio arrangement – Sylvano Santorio
Live orchestration – Sylvano Santorio
Conductor – Sylvano Santorio
Score – 11th place (45 votes)

  • Bas Tukker interviewed Sylvano Santorio in Fontenay-sous-Bois (France), January 2013
  • Photos courtesy of Sylvano Santorio & Ferry van der Zant


Born: August 16th, 1927, Lisbon (Portugal)
Died: July 29th, 2006, Lisbon (Portugal)
Nationality: Portuguese

In due course, the short impression below will be replaced with a more extensive career overview


Jorge Sá Machado studied the piano and cello as well as composition at the Conservatório Nacional in Lisbon. Upon graduation, he chose entertainment music and formed a band, the Conjunto Jorge Machado. Machado led many ensembles and bands; from the 1960s until the early 1990s, he worked as a conductor for many television programmes at RTP, the national broadcaster. As a studio arranger, he worked with renowned artists, including António Calvário, Simone de Oliveira, and Madalena Iglésias. Between 1974 and 1986, he wrote music for theatre, including the revue Até parece mentira. In 1996, Machado formed a students’ choir at the Universidade Lusófona, Lisbon. The last 40 years of his live, he regularly played the piano in the bar of Hotel Tivoli, also in Lisbon.


Jorge Machado was a conductor in the Eurovision Song Contest only once, but his involvement in the Portuguese preselection, the Festival RTP da Canção, went much further, having composed one song in 1964 (‘Finalmente’ for Artur Garcia) and having arranged thirteen hopefuls between 1970 and 1979, of which he conducted eight. In 1980, Machado was the musical director of the Portuguese heats, conducting all entries, sung by artists such as Madi, Dina, SARL (a group which included Carlos Alberto Moniz and Pedro Osório), and Doce. He accompanied the winner, José Cid, to the international final in The Hague. Cid’s song ‘Um grande, grande amor’ was arranged by Mike Sergeant and, conducted by Machado, finished seventh – equalling the best Portuguese result in the festival to date. 


Country – Portugal
Song title – "Um grande, grande amor"
Rendition – José Cid
Lyrics – José Cid
Composition – José Cid
Studio arrangement – Mike Sergeant
Live orchestration – Mike Sergeant
Conductor – Jorge Machado
Score – 7th place (71 votes)


Born: April 28th, 1949, Bern (Switzerland)
Nationality: Swiss

In due course, the short impression below will be replaced with a more extensive career overview


Peter Reber studied the piano as well as psychology in Bern. With Susan Schell and Marc Dietrich, he founded the group Peter, Sue & Marc in 1970. Until the group was dissolved in 1981, it had many hit records in Switzerland. Reber composed most of the material for the group and, moreover, was its producer and main arranger. He also composed songs for other artists, such has Paola Del Medico and Nana Mouskouri. At the World Popular Song Festival in Tokyo, he won the Outstanding Composition Award. In the 1980s, Reber started writing and singing songs in the Swiss-German dialect (such as ‘Jeder bruucht sy Insel’ and ‘Ufem Wäg nach Alaska’), which turned out to be enormously successful with the Swiss audience, to the point that he gave 99 concerts in 99 days.


Peter Reber composed no fewer than 6 songs in four different languages for the Eurovision Song Contest, of which he performed four himself with Peter, Sue & Marc: ‘Les illusions de nos vingt ans’ (1971), ‘Djambo, djambo’ (1976), ‘Trödler und co.’ (1979), and ‘Io senza te’ (1981). The 1976 and 1981 efforts both finished fourth, while ‘Io senza te’ also was an international hit and was covered in many languages. In 1977, Reber composed ‘Swiss Lady’ for the Pepe Lienhard Band, which finished 6th. As a conductor, he appeared in the 1980 contest in The Hague, leading the orchestra during the rendition of his self-penned song ‘Cinéma’, which was sung by Paola Del Medico and finished 4th.


Country – Switzerland
Song title – “Les illusions de nos vingt ans”
Rendition – Peter, Sue & Marc 
(Peter Reber / Susan Schell / Marc Dietrich)
Lyrics – Maurice Tézé
Composition – Peter Reber
Studio arrangement – Hardy Schneiders
Live orchestration – Hardy Schneiders
Conductor – Hardy Schneiders
Score – 12th place (78 votes)

Country – Switzerland
Song title – “Djambo, Djambo”
Rendition – Peter, Sue & Marc 
(Peter Reber / Susan Schell / Marc Dietrich)
Lyrics – Peter Reber
Composition – Peter Reber
Studio arrangement – Peter Reber / Rolf Zuckowski
Live orchestration – Peter Reber / Rolf Zuckowski
Conductor – Mario Robbiani
Score – 4th place (91 votes)

Country – Switzerland
Song title – "Swiss Lady"
Rendition – Pepe Lienhard Band 
(Pepe Lienhard / Bill von Arx / Pino Gasparini / Christian von Hoffmann / Mostafa Kafa’i Azimi / Georges Walther)
Lyrics – Peter Reber
Composition – Peter Reber
Studio arrangement – Peter Reber / Rolf Zuckowski / Pepe Lienhard Band
Live orchestration – Peter Jacques
Conductor – Peter Jacques
Score – 6th place (71 votes)

Country – Switzerland
Song title – “Trödler und co.”
Rendition – Peter, Sue & Marc feat. Pfuri, Gorps & Kniri (Peter Reber / Susan Schell / Marc Dietrich / Pfuri Baldenweg / Anthony Fischer / Kniri Knaus)
Lyrics – Peter Reber
Composition – Peter Reber
Studio arrangement – Peter Reber / Rolf Zuckowski
Live orchestration – Peter Reber / Rolf Zuckowski
Conductor – Rolf Zuckowski
Score – 10th place (60 votes)

Country – Switzerland
Song title – “Cinéma”
Rendition – Paola Del Medico
Lyrics – Véronique Müller / Peter Reber
Composition – Peter Reber
Studio arrangement – Peter Reber
Live orchestration – Peter Reber
Conductor – Peter Reber
Score – 4th place (104 votes)

Country – Switzerland
Song title – “Io senza te”
Rendition – Peter, Sue & Marc 
(Peter Reber / Susan Schell / Marc Dietrich)
Lyrics – Peter Reber / Nella Martinetti
Composition – Peter Reber
Studio arrangement – Peter Reber / Rolf Zuckowski
Live orchestration – Peter Reber / Rolf Zuckowski
Conductor – Rolf Zuckowski
Score – 4th place (121 votes)



Born: October 5th, 1930, London (United Kingdom)
Died: August 10th, 2020, Carmarthen, Wales (United Kingdom)
Nationality: British

In due course, the short impression below will be replaced with a more extensive career overview


As a child, Derrick Martin ‘Del’ Newman studied the piano and violoncello. After a spell with the Royal Navy he studied at universities in Exeter and London and entered Trinity College of Music in London, where he concentrated on composition and conducting. In the 1970s and 1980s, Newman worked as an arranger in the recording studio, with several hits to his credit, e.g. ‘Lady d’Arbanville’ by Cat Stevens, ‘Daniel’ by Elton John, ‘Just When I Needed You Most’ by Randy Vanwarmer, and ‘She’ by Charles Aznavour. He also wrote orchestrations for Paul McCartney, Diana Ross, George Harrison, Paul Simon, Rod Stewart, and many more. In 2010, he published an autobiography entitled ‘A Touch From God: It’s Only Rock And Roll’.


Del Newman, who in the early 1980s occasionally worked for Italian television (Premiatissima), orchestrated and conducted the 1980 Italian entry in the Eurovision Song Contest, ‘Non so che darei’, composed and performed by Alan Sorrenti. This Italian song finished in sixth place.


Country – Italy
Song title – "Non so che darei"
Rendition – Alan Sorrenti
Lyrics – Alan Sorrenti
Composition – Alan Sorrenti
Studio arrangement – Jay Graydon / Alan Sorrenti / Del Newman
Live orchestration – Del Newman
Conductor – Del Newman
Score – 6th place (87 votes)


The following article is an overview of the career of Greek multi-instrumentalist, composer, and arranger Chatzik 'Jick' Nacassian (Χατζίκ ‘Τζίκ’ Νακασιάν). The main source of information is an interview with Mr Musy, conducted by Bas Tukker in Athens, 2013. The article below is subdivided into two main parts; a general career overview (part 3) and a part dedicated to Jick Nacassian's Eurovision involvement (part 4).

All material below: © Bas Tukker / 2013

  1. Passport
  2. Short Eurovision record
  3. Biography
  4. Eurovision Song Contest
  5. Other artists about Jick Nacassian
  6. Eurovision involvement year by year
  7. Sources & links

Born: May 15th, 1951, Athens (Greece)
Nationality: Greek


Jick Nacassian composed, arranged, and conducted ‘Autostop’, Greece’s entry to the 1980 Eurovision Song Contest held in The Hague, Netherlands. 'Autostop' was performed by Anna Vissi and her backing group Epicouroi.


Chatzik ‘Jick’ Nacassian’s father was an Armenian refugee from Smyrna (İzmir) who worked as a manager in a state-run electricity mill in Athens. Young Jick, born in May 1951, was sent to the French Lycée in Athens. 

When asked about how music came into his life, Nacassian comments, “Though my mother played the piano, my parents never talked about music and did not listen to the radio either. When I was 14, my father bought me a turntable. That was in 1965. The summer holidays had just started and he wanted to reward me for doing well at school. I got myself some records, the first one being ‘Melancolie’ by Peppino di Capri, a fantastic song. Then I bought two records by Cliff Richard, ‘On The Beach’ and ‘The Next Time’, of which the flipside was ‘Bachelor Boy’. I also saw Cliff’s movie Wonderful Life. This summer of 1965, my fascination for music began... I started composing melodies in the style of Cliff Richard. These ‘compositions’ included entire orchestrations! As I did not know anything about music notes, I memorised them by constantly repeating them to myself. This way, I invented over one hundred songs."

"My dream was to form a band of my own, but I could not even play an instrument. In 1967, my father gave me a guitar, which allowed me to continue creating music… but now, my imagination was stuck in three of four chords – this is what naturally happens to people without a theoretical background in music who start composing songs on a guitar. Looking back, these guitar songs were less interesting compositions than the earlier ones.”

Jick aged 13 (1964)

As his mother’s dad had been a dentist, she wanted Jick to study dentistry, but he was reluctant. When he finished his high school studies in 1969, he bought himself several music theory books and started studying on his own frantically. After the holidays, he reported at the Costas Clavvas Music School in Nikis Street, Athens. Clavvas was Greece’s most sought-after studio arranger for popular music in the 1960s and early 1970s. 

“I wanted to go to the Berklee School of Music in America to study arranging. I hoped I would be taught the theoretical basics at Clavvas’ institute. When he found out what I had learnt simply by studying books, he was amazed. “It is impossible that you have done that,” he exclaimed. He then passed me onto an old teacher, Mr Papadimitriou. My parents were unaware of the courses I was taking. After just over six months of lessons, this man convinced my parents that I was very talented and that they should support me in my ambition of becoming a musician.”

His parents agreed to help him financially, though they did not have the means to allow him to realise his dream of going to America. Instead, Jick studied composition and dictation privately with Clelia Terzakis, while also completing the harmony course at the National Conservatory (Athens) with teacher Leon Zoras within a year, picking up a first prize (1971). During his twenty-seven months of military service, which he spent in the navy (1971-73), he was given a scholarship to continue his studies at the Athens Conservatoire, where he took courses in counterpoint with Menelaus Pallantios and orchestration with Constantinos Kydoniatis. After having obtained his diplomas in both subjects (1974), he started taking fugue lessons, but had to discontinue these in 1975 due to financial reasons. That same year, he also took a one-month private conducting course.

At 26 years old, making his debut as a conductor in the 1977 edition of the Salonica Song Festival

“I was very focused in those days. I wanted to get the classical education just to be able to write my pop songs in a classical way. I was never really interested in classical music or even jazz. God forgive me, but I never liked laïko, Greek bouzouki music, either. I admire ancient Greek culture, but, to me, Greek popular music has been infected by 400 years of Turkish oppression. To my mind, however, Greece still is a Western country and I have always wanted my songs to reflect that. The songs I composed as a student were pop, rock, rhythm & blues… a mix of these three styles, with Greek lyrics which I penned myself. My prime example as a composer has always been Burt Bacharach. I studied like a madman and had almost completed the counterpoint and arranging courses by the time I got out of the army. As a marine, I hardly had to perform military duties. As soon as it was found out I had a good singing voice, I was included in the navy band. Believe it or not, I was the only band member able to read music, so the task of writing the arrangements soon fell to me as well, which was very instructive. As a singer, I was sent on a tour around all naval bases in the Aegean to entertain the troops.”

In the next couple of years, Nacassian’s fledgling career in Greek’s pop music business was closely tied to the Salonica (Thessaloniki) Song Festival, at that time by far the most popular music festival of the country. In 1974, his composition ‘Irth’i vrochi’, interpreted by Irini Raïcou, was chosen amongst the twenty songs for that year’s competition. The following year, another of his creations, ‘Se paracalo’, was performed by Elpida and came 4th. He finally made a name for himself as one of the country’s new top studio musicians by winning a first prize in arranging in two successive Salonica festivals; in 1977 with ‘Mia glykia mousiki’, composed and performed by Stelios Tsamados, and in 1978 with ‘Gia na grafi ena tragoudi’ composed by Giannis Piliouris and performed by Lia Vissi.

“These were the days when the Salonica Festival was still widely respected in Greece. The best of composers and performers competed. As for my first song, ‘Irth’i vrochi’, I had already written it in 1970. Of course, I was thrilled when it was selected to compete against 19 others in the 1974 festival, but I was a nobody and I did not get to conduct it. The chief conductor, Costas Capnissis, took care of that. During one of the rehearsals, the first trumpeter of the orchestra stood up and asked Capnissis, “Who wrote this arrangement?” I was in the back of the hall and, though slightly intimidated, stood up and raised my hand. “Congratulations,” the trumpet player said to me. “It is one of the best in the competition, if not the best!” Though my song was not picked for the final night, these compliments encouraged me to persevere."

Jick (with moustache) at the Notourno nightclub in Salonica with vocalists Costis Christou (left) and Paschalis Terzis

"When Elpida came 4th with my song ‘Se paracalo’ in 1975, it came as a disappointment to me. I felt I had been tricked out of victory through some dirty machinations. Therefore, I decided never to submit a composition of my own to the Salonica Festival ever again. The 1977 prize for best arrangement of the year came as a surprise. I was there conducting just one song. I think Costas Clavvas had 9 that evening! That one song propelled me to the top of the music industry and made me one of the most asked studio arrangers of the country.”

“Despite these successes, it was not easy to make a living initially. Even when I became known in the record business and signed my first deal with Phonogram in 1975, there was never enough money. In 1975, I performed in a nightclub in Salonica for a while, singing my songs in five languages. One year later, I was lucky to get in touch with Manos Hatzidakis, who was a programme director at Greek radio at that time. When he saw one of my musical scores, he commissioned me to start writing arrangements for the ERT Variety Music Orchestra. Of course I was honoured! I would say Hatzidakis is amongst the best composers Greece has had since the war, along with Mimis Plessas."

"From 1978 onwards, at the request of the orchestra’s musicians, I conducted this ensemble regularly as a guest as well. The year 1978 finally saw an improvement in my living conditions, as more and more arranging commissions came my way and I was employed at the Notourno nightclub in Salonica. Working in such clubs is the best way to make a living for a musician in Greece. Between 1979 and 1981, I was the pianist and musical director at another big club, Nea Deilina in Athens, having a band of 15 musicians to my disposal.”

Between 1975 and 1981, Nacassian worked as a studio arranger with some of Greece’s biggest pop stars of the day, such as Tania Tsanaclidou, Manolis Mitsias, George Coinousis, Giannis Vogiatzis, Philippus Nicolaou, and Michael Calogiannis. Meanwhile continuing his activities as a songwriter, his compositions were recorded by the likes of Aleca Canellidou, Bessy Argyraki, Paschalis, Terris Chrysos, Elpida, and Lakis Giordanelli. 

Meanwhile, he took part in many song festivals in Greece and abroad, conducting several of his arrangements in the Salonica Festival editions of 1979, 1980, and 1981, arranging the song with which Costas Tournas took part in a festival in Tokyo, and writing scores for music manifestations in Austria and Corfu at the request of radio chief Manos Hatzidakis. In 1980, Nacassian’s song ‘Autostop’ was the Greek representation at the Eurovision Song Contest, while he also composed ‘Tu t’en vas’, which took part in the Rose d’Or Festival held in Athens’ Panathenaic Stadium that same year. 

Nacassian conducting in the 1978 edition of the Salonica Song Festival, in which he won the prize for best arrangement of the competition for the second year in a row

“Honestly, that Rose d’Or Festival was a disaster,” Jick laughs. “The French conductor who took care of all entries ruined it with a musically indifferent arrangement. That was the moment I told myself never to have one of my compositions arranged by some other musician.”

In the aftermath of his Eurovision participation, which brought about some hostile press attention in Greece, Jick decided to try his luck in America. Between November 1981 and March 1982, and then again between April and August 1983, he lived in New York, trying to sell his compositions to American producers. Meanwhile, he took a short course of film music composing at Berklee College of Music in Boston.  

“My plan was to conquer the US market as a songwriter. During my first stay, some companies expressed their interest, but in the end it came to nothing. I went back to Athens for a year, writing new material for a second try in 1983. I worked for two production companies and one publisher believed one of my compositions would be a guaranteed hit. As these two companies failed to financially support my stay in America, however, I decided to come back to Greece after a long, frustrating summer. When I left New York, I had tears in my eyes, because I knew I would not come back. I would have loved to stay longer in Berklee, but I lacked the means to do so.”

After his return to Greece, Nacassian took up his old professional activities. Firstly, he returned to the record studio, especially working on a lot of productions for the Lyra record company. Between 1984 and 2002, he wrote countless pop arrangements, teaming up with the likes of Margarita Zorbala, Dionysis Savvopoulos, Giannis Poulopoulos, and George Margaratis. With Aphroditi Manou, he recorded the much-acclaimed LP ‘Nychterini diadromi’ (1984), while he also arranged the record ‘Spaghetti alla Ellinica’, with Greek versions of Italian pop songs sung by Bessy Argyraki, Takis Antoniadis, and Giannis Vogiatzis (1990). 

In one of his sixteen appearances as a conductor at the Salonica Song Festival (1990)

Moreover, between 1987 and 1997, Nacassian conducted in eight more editions of the Salonica Festival, being the contest’s chief conductor on one occasion (1992) and bringing the total of his participations as a conductor to 16. Meanwhile, in the 1980s and 1990s, he worked as a piano entertainer, arranger, and musical director in several nightclubs in Athens and Salonica, finally opening his own music club in Athens, ‘Metavasi’, which he ran from 1998 to 2002.

In the world of theatre, Nacassian made his mark by composing the music to three plays, George Dantin, Ypiretis duo aphentadon, and To epangelma tis Kyrias Warren, whilst he penned the music to the TV adaptation of the children’s play Annie as well. Moreover, between 1984 and 1990, he composed, arranged, and conducted hundreds of instrumentals for the ERT Variety Music Orchestra, which were broadcast on nationwide radio. In 1992, he composed a new signature tune for Greece’s air forces, ‘Eimaste aeroporoi’, which has been on the repertoire of the army bands since. Between 1992 and 1997, Nacassian worked as a teacher of orchestration at several music schools, including the National Conservatoire.

In 2002, Jick made a radical decision; he stopped working as a studio arranger once and for all, instead creating a home-studio and focusing on songwriting. 

“I was tired of being the sound decorator of other people’s music. With the arrival of computers and samplers, the metier of orchestrator has more or less been turned obsolete anyway. It is sad, but true. To me, the time had come to focus on my own songwriting again. I had always continued writing songs, but very few of these were recorded. I refuse to write in the laïko style, with bouzoukis. That is the kind of music that is successful in Greece and I could have had many hits, but I would have felt fake. After a particular sloppy recording by Giannis Poulopoulos of one of my songs, I vowed never to give away any composition to another singer… and I thought: why not make a record of my own? I had performed as a singer during my days in the navy and producers in Greece and America believed in my vocal abilities. I did not listen to them back then, because, to my mind, it would be impossible to combine careers as an arranger and a singer. Now, I decided to give it a go.”

Working on a score during a holiday in Naxos, 2003

Dedicating himself to his album project for almost ten years, Jick composed dozens of songs, which he whittled down to fifteen. Finally, in 2011, the first solo album of his career, ‘Chronia asiderota’, saw the daylight. 

“With the record companies, like the rest of Greece, being in a profound crisis, there was no opportunity to promote the CD, but I am proud of the result. I recorded almost all of the instruments and vocals myself. It is not a commercial album in the Greek sense of the word… no bouzoukis! It is singer-songwriter pop in a Western style, but with Greek lyrics. It received no radio airplay, as we would have had to pay for that, but at least I am offering the audience something from my heart without having had to go through the misery of writing cheap music, hoping for an ephemeral chart success.”

Though marred by health problems, Nacassian is still full of plans. “Many colleagues of mine, composers, have stopped writing songs in recent years, because there has been no money in the business anymore since the arrival of the economic crisis. I am not like them… I am not in it for the money. Therefore, I am still continuing writing songs, because I am still energetic and ambitious to write the best song of my life. I want to release a second album of my material. After that, I would like to publish some of my own compositions arranged for a large orchestra conducted by myself. Moreover, I would like to do something for the Armenians. In 2015, it will be the hundredth year of the genocide they had to suffer at the hands of the Turks. Would not it be suitable to commemorate the victims of this tragedy by doing something…?”

Jick’s 2011 solo album ‘Chronia asiderota’


Jick Nacassian was the composer, arranger, and conductor of ‘Autostop’, an up-tempo song extolling the joy of hitch-hiking, which was Greece’s entry in the 1980 Eurovision Song Contest, organized in The Hague (Netherlands). Performed by Anna Vissi and her backing group, the Epicouroi, ‘Autostop’ finished a mere thirteenth amongst nineteen contestants. Why did Nacassian compose this song?

“I had been trying in vain to get into the Greek pre-selection with my compositions in the two previous years. In 1979, which was a particularly good year for me as a studio arranger and conductor in the Nea Deilina nightclub, I was the young and coming man of the Greek music business. Some time during that year, while at work in Nea Deilina, I was approached by an older man, who said he was a lyricist and introduced himself as Thanos Sophos. He had the idea of writing a song about hitch-hiking for Eurovision and suggested that I should compose a melody and let him add the lyrics to it. It certainly was an original idea and I wrote the song. To be honest, Thanos’ lyrics were quite weak. After having asked him if it was OK to him if I changed some parts, he assured me that he had no objections to that. Afterwards, he gave the credits of the song’s lyrics to his wife, Rony Sophou, who I did not know at all. I do not have a clue why Thanos preferred her name to be next to mine in the songwriting credits instead of his.”

“Meanwhile, an influential producer and publisher at the EMI record company, George Petsilas, had commissioned me to write 3 songs to be submitted for the Eurovision selection here in Greece. He gave me a huge budget, which I decided to spend wholly on this one song, ‘Autostop’. Petsilas was very angry at me for spending that much money, but I explained him I believed in that song. Anna Vissi was already an established artist by the time of this Eurovision project. She had won the Salonica Festival in 1977, was young and beautiful, and much in demand. I had worked with her in the Nea Deilina club. She never really gave me the idea she believed in ‘Autostop’. “My record company told me to sing this song,” she told me, bluntly. I did not like that answer, but I was young and naïve. Perhaps I should have given the song to somebody else, but what did I know at that time…?”

‘Autostop’ was picked as one of the 12 songs of the Greek pre-selection show, held in the ERT studios in Peania. The orchestrations to all entries were conducted by ERT’s staff conductor, Lefteris Chalkiadakis. Anna Vissi won the competition, with a narrow margin of just five points to number two, Costas Tournas & Epicouroi with ‘UFO’. 

Anna Vissi & The Epicouroi on a promotional photo, taken in the run-up to the 1980 Eurovision Song Contest

“I was slightly disappointed not being able to conduct my own song,” Nacassian comments, “but we won, so I did not complain. After all, I knew I would get to conduct the song in the international festival! Many years later, shortly before he passed away, Lefteris Chalkiadakis told me he regretted not having allowed me to conduct ‘Autostop’ during the reprise at the end of the national final show. To be honest, I had forgotten all about that, but it was a gentle thing to say of him anyway! I was given little opportunity to enjoy victory. The song was really badly received by Greek press, who thought it unfit to represent our country. Moreover, I was consciously misquoted by one journalist, who asked me what I thought of the quality of the programme in general. I told him that the orchestra was good, but that the sound mix left something to be desired. Next morning in the paper, I was quoted as having said that the orchestra had been no good. The musicians were livid at me for something I never said!”

“The morning after the show, Anna Vissi was given the opportunity to perform the song live on nationwide radio with an orchestra conducted by me. Due to another technical mistake, however, Anna’s voice could not be heard by radio listeners for the first one and a half minute of the performance. I begged the radio production team to allow us to have another go at the end of the morning show and I finally got my way. When the time had come for our second try, Anna was gone… to do her hair. You can imagine how I felt."

"At Anna’s suggestion, we took the Epicouroi, the backing group of Costas Tournas who had come second behind her, on board for the studio recording and the international contest. Initially, the three group members of Epicouroi tried to sing their own vocals instead of reading the notes I had written out for them. After I corrected them, they did a good job on the song – and they did an OK job at the contest in The Hague as well.”

At the advice of his lyricist Thanos Sophos, Nacassian kept the publishing rights of ‘Autostop’ to himself. “The usual road would have been to have allowed producer George Petsilas to publish the song,” Jick explains, “but immediately after we won the Greek final, Thanos Sophos approached me, begging me not to give the rights to Petsilas. I decided to listen to Thanos, even more so when he promised me to come along to The Hague to sell the song ourselves to the international publishers gathered at the Eurovision Song Contest. We would market the song together; it seemed like a good idea!"

From left to right: Anna Vissi, Jick Nacassian, and two members of the Epicouroi on the airport of Athens, about to fly out to the Netherlands for the 1980 Eurovision Song Contest

"One day before we would leave for the Netherlands, Thanos came to my house limping. He had broken his leg! “I am sorry, I cannot walk… I had an accident and I cannot come along with you,” he said. When telling you the story now, it is kind of comical, but at that time it was a disaster. In practice, it meant I would be left to my own devices at the contest without any help from others. In the end, I managed to sell it to Ralph Siegel from Germany, who tricked me by just buying ‘Autostop’ and not the B side. That cost me a lot of money. Siegel gave the song to Wenche Myhre, who recorded a German version.”

When asked about his memories of the contest in The Hague, Nacasian replies, “Honestly, it was very stressful. Anna Vissi gave me a hard time by demanding changes in the arrangement. It was too high, or too low… I do not remember. At her request, I adapted the score three times. In between rehearsals, I was constantly trying to attract attention for the song with publishers, but I hardly knew how to go about. Remember, I was just a 28-year-old kid. This situation was too much! To add insult to injury, the drummer of the Dutch orchestra was drunk on the night of the concert. In the second part of the song, he took the tempo too fast. I tried to correct him with my gestures, but to no avail – this was a case of the conductor chasing the drummer instead of the other way around, as it should be.”

“No, this Eurovision experience was not a happy episode in my career. Just negative memories... Anna Vissi never whole-heartedly supported the song to the outside world. After we came thirteenth, she explained the disappointing score to Greek journalists by saying, “What can I do? This is the song they gave me and that is why I got this result.” In other words, she blamed me, which was a very mean thing to do. Therefore, I have never worked with her again. I still cannot bear watching her perform on television. Another bad thing was that ERT never paid me for my three different arrangements to this song. Any arranger who has his material used for a radio or television broadcast earns a certain amount of money, but they did not give me that in this case. Just because I worked for the radio as an arranger at that time and depended on this income, I did not complain or explicitly ask for it.”

“In the end, ‘Autostop’ was the reason I left for America in 1981. Due to the incorrect quote of me about the quality of the orchestra and the sound technique in the Greek national final, the musicians refused to come to studio sessions which were conducted by me. They simply boycotted me! At that time, this meant the end of my career in the studio business. I was more or less forced to try making it in another country."

Rehearsing with the Metropole Orchestra in The Hague

"It was not until 1984, when I had returned to Greece, that everything seemed to have been forgiven and I could take up my activities in the record studio and with ERT radio again. And all of this because of a little song which is not among the 100 best pop songs I wrote in my life… a below average song, I would say. Nonetheless, I still believe ERT needed this kind of song and, anyway, it was voted the winner in a selection which, originally, consisted of nearly 400 songs which were submitted…”

Eight years after ‘Autostop’, in 1988, Jick Nacassian was involved in the Greek pre-selection again – not as a songwriter, but as an arranger and conductor. In the national final, held in Piraeus’ Municipal Theatre, the 8 participating songs were shared on an equal basis by two arrangers; Nacassian conducted four, with the other four being given to Charis Andreadis. The four entries arranged by Nacassian were ‘Ah, ourane’ by Giannis Dimitras & Evdokia, ‘Gia sena mono zo’ by George Melekis & Electra, ‘To iremistico’ by Christos Callow, and ‘Hic’ by Angeliki Bazigou. The last-mentioned title, a peculiar song with lyrics about hiccups, came second behind the eventual winner, Afroditi Fryda and ‘Clown’. As ‘Clown’ had been arranged and conducted by Andreadis, he went on to represent Greece as a conductor in the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin.

Nacassian’s third and last involvement in the world of Eurovision came in 1991, when he surprisingly participated as an interpreter in the Greek pre-selection, performing his own composition ‘Paratiro’. 

“This was not only my composition, but I wrote the lyrics to it as well… lyrics about the Gulf War! Once I learnt it had been admitted to the national final, I offered it to Christos Dantis and to Paschalis, but they turned me down without even listening to the song. Therefore, I did it myself all dressed in white, seated at a white piano. It was a strong song and I remember that, after my performance, I was applauded by almost all other contestants backstage. I have to admit, though, that the winner, ‘Anixi’ by Sophia Vossou, was very strong, too.”


So far, we have not managed to gather comments of other artists about Jick Nacassian.


Country – Greece
Song title – “Autostop”
Rendition – Anna Víssi & Epicouroi (Achilles Michaelides / Zacharias Michaelides / Eve Tselidou)
Lyrics – Thanos Sophos / Rony Sophou
Composition – Jick Nacassian
Studio arrangement – Jick Nacassian
Live orchestration – Jick Nacassian
Conductor – Jick Nacassian
Score – 13th place (30 votes)

  • Bas Tukker interviewed Jick Nacassian in Athens, October 2013
  • Many thanks to Catherina Xerovasila for her indispensable help during the interview and the preparation of the manuscript
  • All photos courtesy of Jick Nacassian