Legendary Israeli singer Arik Einstein passed away on Tuesday evening at the Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv.
Einstein, 74, was hospitalized in serious condition at the hospital earlier in the evening. He had reportedly complained of shortage of breath and was rushed to the hospital, where he was taken for surgery which was unsuccessful.
Professor Gabi Barabash, head of the Ichilov Hospital, said on Tuesday evening to the many journalists and fans of the singer who gathered outside the hospital, "Arik came to us unconscious and died of aneurysm of the aorta. We tried to perform surgery on him but the attempts were unsuccessful . He arrived in very serious condition and in this situation it was impossible to save him.”
"There is no one to sing for us anymore," he added.
Einstein’s musical career started back in the 1950s, when he performed as a soldier in the Nahal troupe.
After his release from the army Einstein was a member of several bands, including Batzal Yarok (“Green Onion”), the Yarkon Trio, and the High Windows.
At the same time, Einstein developed a solo career and worked with many younger artists who later became a mainstay of Israeli music. These include Shalom Hanoch, Mickey Gavrielov, Yitzchak Klepter and many others. He stopped performing after he was involved in a car accident in 1982 but continued to release songs and albums.
"He was an amazing singer, our Frank Sinatra," longtime friend Israel Gurion, with whom Einstein had been in the Yarkon Trio, told Army Radio. "He gave the words he sang meaning."
Einstein leaves behind his second wife, Sima, and four children. His two eldest daughters married the two sons of his friend actor Uri Zohar. Both became hareidi.
His death came as a surprise to all, particularly since on Monday it was announced that he would be writing a weekly column for the Maariv newspaper starting with this Friday's edition.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expressed his deep sorrow over Einstein’s death on Tuesday evening, saying, “Arik was the greatest. We all grew up with his songs. When you said Arik Einstein, you said the land of Israel."
"Arik was a wonderful singer and a wonderful person," he added, "The songs he wrote are the soundtrack of Israel. I liked him very much. The state of Israel is sadly saying goodbye to a cultural giant who we will greatly miss.”
Opposition head MK Yitzchak Herzog (Labor) said, "Arik Einstein was one of the greatest artists in the state of Israel. He had a unique style that influenced generations of Israelis in words and sounds."
“His songs accompanied us in moments of national mourning and joy,” said Herzog. “Even the children of Israel received special attention in his works. Arik will remain in our hearts and in the heart of our nation forever and will be remembered as one of the greatest artists.”
Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home/Bayit Yehudi) also expressed his condolences over Einstein’s death, saying he was “the greatest singer in Israel.”
"It's hard to comprehend that we lost this evening the greatest Israeli singer," said Minister Ariel. "The people of Israel loved to hear him, liked his modest personality and what he represented in his songs. May his memory be for a blessing.”