Legendary Israeli singer Arik Einstein died Tuesday night at the of 74 at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, hours after he suffered a fatal hemorrhage.
Einstein was taken to the hospital by Magen David Adom paramedics in a state of clinical death after he collapsed in his Tel Aviv home.
Hospital director Gabi Barabash told reporters that Einstein died of an aortic aneurysm.
“We tried to operate on him but our attempts failed; he got here in too serious a condition,” Barash said. “There is nobody to sing for us anymore.”
Einstein’s wife, Sima Eliyahu, and close friends were with him in the hospital.
Einstein, born in Tel Aviv in 1939, is considered the godfather of Israeli rock. He wrote classics like “Ani Veata” (Me and You), “Uf Gozal” (Fly Little Bird) and “Sa Leat” (Drive Slow).
Einstein had not performed in front of an audience since the early 1980s following a road accident in which he was seriously injured.
His first album, “Shar Bishvilech” or “Singing for You,” was released in 1966. He was then part of the rock band The High Windows with Shmulik Kraus and Israeli-American Josie Katz. He later formed the Lool, or Chicken Coop, comedy troupe.
Before turning to show business, Einstein was the under-18 high jump champion of Israel. His professional musical career began after he left the army’s Nahal band, and he released his first solo album in 1960.
He regularly collaborated with other Israeli singers on well-received albums.
“He was our Frank Sinatra,” singer Israel Gurion said, according to Ynet. “He was just a tremendous man. I still can’t process it. We went a long way together.”
After his death, Israeli television channels halted their regular programming to broadcast clips and remembrances of the singer. Radio stations switched to all-Einstein soundtracks.
Einstein also acted in Israeli comedies on TV and on the big screen and was known as a die-hard sports fan. On Monday, the Maariv daily newspaper announced Einstein would begin writing a fixed column for them. The singer was interviewed by Channel 10 TV on the phone on Monday about the new column, and sounded his familiar laconic self.
As news of his death spread, fans and officials rushed to eulogize the musician.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Einstein “greater than all of them.”
“We all grew up on his songs. The words of Arik Einstein were the words of the land of Israel,” Netanyahu said in a statement posted to Facebook. “Arik was a wonderful musician and a wonderful man. … I loved him very much. Israel bids farewell with great sadness from a giant of culture who will be missed. Me and my wife are greatly pained by his passing.”
President Shimon Peres said Einstein’s music was “a soundtrack to the whole nation.”
“He moved the earliest generations and the newer ones as one. Nobody questioned the depth of his feeling. The nation drank thirstily his beloved voice that flowed from the depths,” Peres said in a statement. “Also in passing, his songs will continue to play to life and hope.”
Labor Party head Isaac Herzog said Einstein’s influence transcended generations.
“Arik Einstein was one of the greats of the artists that founded the country,” Herzog said. “He had a singular, totally Israeli style that influenced generations of Israelis in words and songs.”
Arik Einstein was everything that is beautiful about Israel. Tonight a whole country aches. His legacy will survive for many years #RIP
— Amit Safir (@amit_safir) November 26, 2013
Mourning the death of Arik Einstein, the beautiful voice of the beautiful Israel. A wonderful, modest man who was beautiful inside and out.
— Ori Nir (@OriNir_APN) November 26, 2013
“This is a sad day for all of us,” Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said. “A great sadness envelopes the country. His songs accompanied him everywhere and will continue to accompany him and us always.”
#Israel is mourning as music giant Arik Einstein has passed away. God rest his soul.
— Students for Israel (@SFI_NOW) November 26, 2013
His funeral was scheduled for Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Tel Aviv’s Trumpeldor cemetery.
JTA contributed to this report.