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(1915-02-27)27 February 1915, Sysmä, Finland
14 July 1972(1972-07-14) (aged 57), Tampere, Finland
Olavi Virta (originally to 1926 Oskari Olavi Ilmén) (27 February 1915, Sysmä, Finland - 14 July 1972, Tampere, Finland) was a Finnish singer, acclaimed as the king of Finnish tango. Between 1939 and 1966 he recorded almost 600 songs, many of which are classics of Finnish popular music, and appeared in many films and theatrical productions. Of his most acclaimed tangos are Punatukkaiselle tytölleni (For my red haired girl), Ennen kuolemaa (Before death) (Avant de mourir) and Täysikuu (Full moon), while standouts from his other popular music are Poika varjoisalta kujalta (Boy from a shady alley) (Guaglione), Hopeinen kuu (Silver moon) (Guarda Che Luna), Eva and Kultainen nuoruus (The golden youth). He was also the second tenor of the quartet Kipparikvartetti in the early 1950s.
At the beginning of his career he received three gold records for the songs Ennen kuolemaa, Tulisuudelma (El Choclo) and La Cumparsita.
Olavi Virta's career was cut short by a scandalous arrest for drunken driving in 1962, after which the press mockingly called him "The Singing Meatball." Ten years later he succumbed to alcoholism, living his final years in poverty.