Arieh "Arik" Einstein (Hebrew: אריק איינשטיין, pronounced ˈaʁik ˈaɪnʃteɪn; 3 January 1939 - 26 November 2013) was an Israeli singer, songwriter, actor, and screenwriter. He was a pioneer of Israeli rock music and is widely regarded as the greatest and most influential Israeli singer and musician of all time.
Einstein collaborated with many Israeli singers and songwriters, including Shalom Hanochand Yoni Rechter. Einstein wrote many of his own songs, He was a vocalist with The Churchills, Batzal Yarok and HaHalonot HaGvohim.
Arieh Einstein was born in Tel Aviv. His father, Yaakov, was an actor with the "Ohel" Theater. Einstein was Israel's junior high jump and shot put champion. His father urged him to audition for an army entertainment troupe, and he was accepted into the Nahal Brigade troupe.
In 1963, Arieh Einstein married Alona Shochat in the hall of Habima Theater (where he was onstage in a production of Irma La Douce). After four years of marriage, during which their daughter Shiri was born, the couple divorced. A year later, in 1968, they remarried. Their daughter Yasmin was born in 1971. They divorced again in 1972. Alona Einstein died in 2006 from cancer. Arik Einstein's second wife was Sima Eliyahu, whom he met shortly before filming the movie Metzitzim in 1972. They had a daughter and a son: Dina and Amir.
Despite a successful career of acting and singing, Einstein was the shy type and a homebody. In one of his songs he sang that his greatest pleasure was staying home with a cup of lemon tea and his books, and in this he was sincere. In a candid interview that was shown on TV, he said that performing in front of big crowds was difficult for him (without the help of a few glugs of cognac beforehand). For this reason he ceased to perform public concerts from the year of 1981 and on, despite many attractive offers. In 1982 he was hurt in a major car accident. His wife was also hurt, and another friend lost her life. Following the accident Einstein's eyesight, which was already myopic, got worse and he spent less and less time in public.
In 1959, after his release from the IDF, Einstein joined the Green Onion band and the Sambation theatre. In 1960, he released his first solo album. He sang in a band under the pseudonym "Ari Goren". In the Yarkon Bridge Trio, he performed with Yehoram Gaon, Benny Amdursky and later Israel Gurion. In 1964, he played in the comedy film Sallah Shabbati, along with Chaim Topol, who was also from the Green Onion band. In 1966, Einstein joined The High Windows with Shmulik Kraus and Josie Katz. Their first album went on sale in April 1967, six weeks before the Six-Day War, signaling a new direction in Israeli rock and pop. Einstein left the group after one year in the wake of a disagreement with Kraus.
Two years later, Einstein released the album Mazal Gdi (Capricorn), which was not very successful. He therefore looked for a new sound and went on to produce the album Puzi with the Churchills, considered the first Israeli rock album. He stopped performing live in the early 1980s. He said: "I performed from the age of 18 until I was 42...I wasn't exactly a stage animal. I was held back by the embarrassment, the bashfulness, and it became more evident as the years went by... By the way, when I say bashfulness, I'm not proud of it... I wish I could grab a microphone and sing like a Sinatra, but I don't have what it takes, and a person should adapt to his capabilities. On the other hand, in the studio, I blossom. That's my natural habitat, where I'm not bashful. The problem is that this profession has its field mines: success is accompanied by fame and a form of adoration, and I really don't get along with that. That's where I draw the line. It's pleasant to be loved, but not more."
In 2004, Einstein released Shtei Gitarot Bas Tupim (Two Guitars, Bass, Drums). He sang a duet with David D'Or on D'Or's CD, Kmo HaRuach ("Like the Wind") released on 27 March 2006. In 2010, Einstein was the most played artist on radio stations in Israel, according to Israeli Musical artist organisation, ACUM (אקו"ם). In 2011, he released a new song in honor of the return of abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. "You'll always be a hero," Einstein sings. "You are allowed to cry. It's not simple at all, to forgive fate."
Einstein was part of the early 1970s TV series Lool (Chicken Coop), a sketch-and-song show with an original format and cast. Lool featured songs written by prominent poets performed by some of the best singers Israel has ever produced. In spite of the fact that it had only four episodes, it remains a cult show to this day.Lool, as well as movies such as Shablool (Snail), showcased Einstein as both a top-of-the-line singer and comedian.
In 2005, he was voted the 22nd-greatest Israeli of all time, in a poll by the Israeli news website Ynet to determine whom the general public considered the 200 Greatest Israelis.
In 2009, Haaretz columnist Ariel Hirschfeld wrote: "Arik Einstein's well-known reclusiveness, his ordinariness, his averseness to pomposity and grandiosity, his modest way of belonging to this place - these should not hide from those living here the fact that he is a very great and profound artist, with an acute artistic conscience, perfect and totally unique."
On 26 November 2013, Einstein died age 74 after a ruptured thoracic aortic aneurysm. At the news of Einstein's death, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement describing his songs as the "soundtrack of Israel." President Shimon Peres stated that he was beloved for his voice that "came from the depths" and his songs would "continue playing life and hope" long after him. He was buried in Trumpeldor Cemetery in Tel Aviv. Prior to the funeral, his body lay in state in Rabin Square, where thousands gathered to pay their respects.