Israeli singer Gaby Shoshan found dead at 66

Singer reportedly committed suicide in his home; Shoshan’s fame stems mainly from hits of early 1970s

Gaby Shoshan (L) with comic Dudu Topaz (R) and actor Albert Cohen, in this undated photograph.(Moshe Shai/Flash90)
Gaby Shoshan (L) with comic Dudu Topaz (R) and actor Albert Cohen, in this undated photograph.(Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Veteran Israeli singer Gaby Shoshan died Saturday at the age of 66, after he was found unconscious at his home in Holon.

Shoshan was found by a friend who called emergency services, but paramedics pronounced Shoshan dead at the scene after resuscitation attempts failed.

According to Channels 2 and 10, the singer committed suicide.

Shoshan was said to suffer anxiety and depression in recent years, and his last album, published only several months ago, contained some songs with lyrics that could be read as prophesying his coming death.

Born in Morocco in 1950, Shoshan moved with his family to Israel when he was five years old. Drawn to music from a young age, the singer was influenced by British and American rock and pop in the 1960s, and began a brief acting career before turning to music full-time in the 1970s.

His brief foray into acting gave Shoshan roles in classic Israeli movies in “Kazablan” and Oscar-nominated “The Policeman,” while a part in an Israeli production of the musical Hair brought him national fame.

Shoshan released his first solo album, Black Eyed Boy, in 1973. Half of the album’s songs are in English — Shoshan was at the time considering moving abroad to develop his career internationally — and several tracks on it became hits.

After releasing a second album, Shoshan moved to the US for a decade in the mid-1970s. While he returned to Israel and continued making music, his career never fulfilled the promise of his first two popular records.

Shoshan released his last album in 2015, paying for it with a kick-start campaign funded by fans.

Reportedly beset by depression and melancholia in recent years, Shoshan severed ties with his two children, and only resumed contact after his final album was released.

A friend from the music industry who worked with Shoshan told the Hebrew website Ynet that in the past few weeks “there was a feeling [Shoshan] was coming out of the anxiety, that he is in a new place. But to say he was happy? He wasn’t. He lived in a very small apartment in Holon, a dark apartment, and he wanted a bigger place. He had financial difficulties; it’s not like he had nothing to eat, but he felt he needed to work very hard just to get by.”

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev eulogized Shoshan.

“When we said seventies we said Cliff Richards, we said Tom Jones and we also said Gaby Shoshan. Gaby had one of the beautiful voices that grew in Israeli music and culture. Together with Nissim Seroussi [an Israeli singer of Tunisian descent], he brought to Israel voices from across the ocean and had them make ‘aliya’. He infected us all with the craze of rock ballads and became the soundtrack for anyone who loved music, but sadly, in his life did not win the esteem he so deserved,” Regev said.

“Gaby Shoshan’s story is the story of many veteran artists in Israel, who are given the cold shoulder despite their talent. It’s a shame that radio stations play the wonderful pieces of these veteran artists only an hour after they die. His music will accompany us forever, may his memory be blessed,” she said.

Shoshan, who was twice divorced, is survived by his children. A date for his funeral has not yet been announced.

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