Erkin Koray (born 24 June 1941) is a Turkish singer-songwriter, guitarist and one of the pioneers of Anatolian rock.
Erkin Koray has been in the Turkish rock music scene since the late 1950s or early 1960s. He is widely acclaimed as being the first person to ever play rock and roll in Turkey; in 1957, he and his band gained fame by playing covers of Elvis Presley and Fats Domino. He was also one of the first Turkish musicians to embrace the electric guitar and modern amplification. Besides his unique work, he reforms most of well known Turkish folk songs. Erkin Koray in his work, he used Western and Eastern melodies and it became influential on many Turkish musicians. He also invented the Arabesque rock genre. Furthermore, he took his daughter from school and provided her home education. By the late 1960s, he had become a major figure in Turkish psychedelic music and Anatolian Rock, beginning with his first psychedelic single Anma Arkadaş in 1967. Koray followed this with a number of singles, both by himself and in collaboration with others, that established him as a force to be reckoned with on the Turkish rock scene. Koray became a controversial figure in Turkey during the 1960s/70s; he was actually assaulted in Istanbul, and on one occasion stabbed, for having long hair. He also played live on Paris streets where he met John Lennon when he was at a trip to Paris.
In the early 1970s, he formed the group Ter with the former members of the band Bunalım (“Group Depression”). Although they only recorded one single before breaking up, Hor Görme Garibi (a cover of the major Arabesque music hit by Orhan Gencebay) was a smash hit, furthering Koray’s career. Ter was influenced by fuzz rock and psychedelia, and featured extended guitar solos and progressive arrangements – something that the record company was not prepared to accept. In 1973, his first album, Erkin Koray, was released, consisting of a collection of singles from 1967-73. He left Istanbul Records after the release of the album. In 1974, he signed with Doglan Records and released Şaşkın (Dabke).
1974 also saw the release of his groundbreaking album, Elektronik Türküler (“Electronic Ballads”). Finally given the freedom to record an album instead of being limited to 45 rpm singles, Koray and his band created an album that reflected both his Turkish roots and his love of psychedelic and progressive rock. The album’s popularity continues to the present day, with several legitimate and non-legitimate releases on both album and CD. Koray continues to record and perform in Turkey to this day, and in Turkish music circles is often referred to as Erkin Baba (“Erkin the Father”) for his pioneering influence on Turkish popular music.
Other major hits by Koray are Fesuphanallah, Istemem, Sevince, Öyle Bir Geçer Zaman ki , Estarabim, Arap Saçı, Yalnızlar Rıhtımı, Akrebin Gözleri, Meçhul and Çöpçüler. In the late 1990s and early 2000s (decade), a flowering of interest in psychedelic music made outside of the UK and the US brought Koray to the attention of listeners in the West. Koray is also the inventor of the electric bağlama, a traditional Turkish musical instrument related to the lute, and its unique sound can be heard on many of his albums.
Erkin Koray: The name having started to produce rock music, by altering Twist even when pop music was not known in Turkey. Until 1945, he produced many extended-plays (45-type), which he regenerated later on. Rather than adding just some pictures and hand-drawing, he also put some statements about his philosophy and info about the tracks on discs. His first album was released in 1973, without his own permission and unbeknown to him by Istanbul Plak, as being profit-oriented, because of some problems in the company.
Setting the work of Istanbul Plak, Koray practiced his first studio album at the end of 1974. During this period, he was rather interested in arabesque music, and his followers were also used to this music, with the astonishment of Şaşkın and the admiration to Fesupanallah. However, the next album Elektronik Türküler was not a piece of this new trend and it can be considered even better than any of the modern Anadolu Rock songs. Shortly, this album was a masterpiece involving a list of Anadolu Rock songs, produced with the psychedelic instruments that he had been working on for a long time.
One of the best hit songs produced at Doğan Plak, surviving till today is Yalnızlar Rıhtımı. In 1976-77, he released albums like Arap Saçı, Gönül Salıncağı, Sevdiğim Gibi. Later, with his passion and hunger to more electrified rock sound, he formed a band called Erkin Koray Tutkusu, with the names recognized even today; Harun Kolçak, Asım Erken and Orhan Ünal and produced the album, whose best song (according to the author of the text) was Suskunluğun Ötesi.
After this album, he did not emerge in the music market for a long time. In fact, leftist-rightist conflict in this period and following troubles in the economy was the core reason for the sale problem of Tutkusu’s album. After getting through a military coup, he returned with a new albuk in the late of 1982. Extended-plays were now left behind; cassettes and long-plays arose as the only arguments of the market. In this period, Benden Sana was produced, with an influence of Indian music, thanks to Harpal Singh, with whom he worked in Germany and the most hit song was Öyle Bir Geçer.
The album İlla ki was released in 1983 and was debated in 2000s. The songs İlla ki, Deli Kadın and Boşuna long-plays were the pieces belonging to the band The Devil’s Anvil, who started in late 60s, but Koray put his own name for each of these songs on the disc. Continuing with this indifference to the issue, he was still insisting that these songs belonged to him in his book Mezarlık Güller, published in 2006.
While Taverna (tavern music) was popular in this period, the album Ceylan was produced by Emre Plak. In this work, Koray reproduced Çöpçüler, a successful hit with guitar and his vocal, and this song carried the whole album further alone. Apart from other songs, one could interestingly find a British-kind-of-rock song under the name Olay Olur, presented with the name Şöyle Böyle. In spite of all the shortness and imperfections, this album was his last important work; he could not reach the same success from then on.
Firstly, the album Gaddar rose in cassette format in 1986 and all the songs were written by Koray. In spite of Koray’s well-known 40 years reputation, there were some ordinary and unexpected songs like Doktor and Kervan Yürür in this album. In this album there were only two songs that reached to a certain success. The first one was Tamam Artık, and the second one was Razıyım which was performed by classical guitar.
The album Gaddar remained as the least selling and the least known album of Erkin Koray. Then a disappointing follow-up with the name Çukulatam Benim came onto the market. The period was the years when arabesque was dominating all music world. Koray also was caught up in this trend in the album Çukulatam Benim. He was very good at arabesque, but the understanding of arabesque was a bit problematic in this album. The sad thing is that the song Sana Bir şeyler Olmuş once composed as rock song was added to the album with a arabesque name “Na Na Nay Nom” and a terrible performance. At one time the man, who used to play Mesafeler for John Lennon with his own guitar, was now composing strange songs like “Turgay Hesabı Kim Ödeyecek”. Later on this album, no matter what it is, was published again with the name Erkin Koray Meyhanede (Zaten Hiç Çıkmadıki), which was in an unacceptable way, under the name of one of Turkey’s best artist. The part “Zaten hiç Çıkmadıki” caused many problems and end up in court many times. Later the company went bankrupt and this was an end to this chase and escape. Çukulatam Benim (My Chocolate) claimed its place as the most interesting album in Erkin Koray’s life.
After waiting for two years, which was not quite usual for him, he produced Hay Yam Yam. However, the song which is rather worth to listen in the album was Cemile Kız, and Konuşuyorduk; the song in which you can smell the Bağlama of Çetin Akdeniz. Later on, he produced the album Tamam Artık, which was obviously kind of a farewell to the music market. In this album, Çetin Ceviz is worth to listen, and indeed the wordless answer to the question of what Anadolu Rock is. One year later, Kalite-Mega Plak recorded a concert of him to a cassette under the name of Tek Başına Konser and quite recently made a CD, with the title The Best of Erkin Koray. After these collections, a new album was released; Gün Ola. Well, Erkin Koray put his signature under a beautiful work, without any shortfalls and imperfestiveness for the first time; with advertisements, photos and archive works; but we can say the same things for the songs.
In 1999, Devlerin Nefesi was released with a well-known company and the obvious hit song was Memurum Ben, with a obviously great care. Apart from these, he has some other albums, involving the songs Neden Böyle, Öhö öhö, Hava Narghile, produced in limited numbers in Germany and Sweden. Obviously from 1983 on, he could never catch the success, but he did not even criticize himself, on the contrary he was pulling the legs of two young researchers in his own book. Suddenly, he started to be interested in politics and his words ‘I will vote for MHP’ raised surprise in the media, as he used to follow the Hippie philosophy.
With his mistakes and proper behaviors, he was a lifestyle on his own, as can be seen in Gaddar and Çukulatam Benim. Elektronik Türküler and Tutkusu, by working in company with the researcher musicians, were proved to be quite unique and even more successful than many songs in the Europe in this period. Now we are in 2009, and we, as Koray fans, do not expect the new album that he declared in 2001. Perhaps it is better this way, who knows…