Arik Einstein

As an Israeli singer and songwriter whose career spanned over fifty years, Arik Einstein’s music was interconnected with a series of major political and social events in the region. Born in 1913 in Tel Aviv, then within the British Mandate of Palestine, Einstein was an only child whose father was an actor in the Ohel Theater. Athletic at a young age, Einstein was encouraged to pursue entertainment and was subsequently accepted as a singer in the Lahakat HaNahal band. Einstein showed promise as a singer while in the military and, after his service ended in 1959, he joined the Sambation Theater. He first recorded as a solo artist in 1960 but joined the pop group the High Windows in 1966. Its first album was released in April 1967. The group found success in Israel and abroad, particularly in France; however, Einstein’s tenure lasted only a year, as he left the group after a disagreement with his comembers over his lack of acceptance of translating the songs’ Hebrew lyrics. In 1969 he joined the Churchills and recorded Puzi, considered by many to be the first Israeli rock album. He continued to release solo albums but stopped performing live in the early 1980s, citing a historic discomfort with the form. Parallel to his solo work, Einstein released a series of albums featuring older Hebrew songs, titled “The Old and Good Land of Israel.” As late as 2010, Einstein was the most popular artist played on Israeli radio stations, leading Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to comment—after the star’s death in 2013—that Einstein had provided “the soundtrack of Israel.”