Fikret Kızılok (November 10, 1946 – September 22, 2001) was a Turkish rock musician. He was a pioneer of Turkish rock music, a prolific songwriter, impresario, multi-instrumentalist, and an early experimentalist. Due to a heart disease, he died on 22 September 2001.
Kızılok was introduced to music during his secondary school years at the Galatasaray High School, a top high school in Turkey that produced music legends Barış Manço and Timur Selçuk as well, although Kızılok went on later to study dentistry. His first instrument was an accordion. He took his first music lessons from one of his classmates’ father. His first performance was at Taksim Belediye Gazinosu, as April 23 celebrations. He performed here, with his group named Fikret Kızılok and the Band. Their biggest hit was a cover of a famous folksong ‘Tamzara’.
He switched to rhythm guitar in 1963 when he met Cahit Oben. Together, they formed the group Cahit Oben 4, with Koray Oktay on bass and Erol Ulaştır on drums. Cahit Oben 4 describe themselves as a group playing Beatles kind of music. They started performing Çatı Gece Kulübü, a nightclub managed by İlham Gencer. As a side job, they also performed at several open-air neighborhood concerts. Their first release in 1965 was the Beatles-inspired song “I Wanna Be Your Man.” Later that year, Cahit Oben 4’s second single included their first Turkish-language folksong, “Silifke’nin Yoğurdu,” with the B-side featuring the first song written by Kızılok, “Hereke.” Cahit Oben 4 contested at Hürriyet’s 1965 Golden Microphone Music awards, with their “Makaram Sarı Bağlar / Halime” release. After, Cahit Oben 4 broke-up, while Cahit Oben wanted to resume his life with his fiance Füsun Önal.
After taking a brief break from music to finish dentistry school, Kızılok performed alongside Barış Manço for nearly a year before releasing his first solo single, “Ay Osman – Sevgilim (Colours – Baby).” In 1969, Kızılok traveled with writer Arda Uskan to Sivas to meet famed folk poet Aşık Veysel, and to procure permission to record a cover of his song “Uzun İnce Bir Yoldayım” (I’m on a long, thin road), which started a friendship between them. Kızılok later returned to live with Veysel for several months, taking saz lessons as well. His 1969 cover of “Uzun İnce Bir Yoldayım / Benim Aşkım Beni Geçti” went to number one in the Turkish charts, and was Kızılok’s first gold album. Kızılok quit music for about a year in 1973 following the death of Aşık Veysel.
While Kızılok’s music hadn’t previously been especially concerned with political themes, in the 1970s his music began to become more intertwined with politics. He set the poetry of a number of prominent politically active poets to music, including Ahmed Arif’s “Vurulmuşum” (1971), Aşık Mahzuni Şerif’s “Darağacı” (1975) and former prime minister Bülent Ecevit’s “Olmasın Varsın (debuted live on TV in 1975). His album Not Defterimden (1977) featured experiments in atonal music and readings of poetry by Nazim Hikmet. However, the worsening political situation in late 1970s Turkey, and the banning of Ecevit from politics following the September 12, 1980 coup d’etat, contributed to Kızılok’s forced break from music between 1977-1983.
Kızılok’s first album following this break, Zaman Zaman (From Time to Time), featured a shift from politics to love songs. This album, and the 1990 solo album Yana Yana (Side by Side), contain many of the songs that Kızılok is best known for today. During the same period, he collaborated with a number of musicians, including fellow singer-songwriter Bülent Ortaçgil, environmental activist and singer Leman Sam, and fretless guitarist pioneer Erkan Oğur.
Kızılok suffered a heart attack in 1998, the year he finished his last studio album, Mustafa Kemal – Devrimcinin Güncesi (Mustafa Kemal – A Revolutionary’s Diary). Although he was working on a new album, preliminarily entitled Suya Yazılan Şarkılar, this never was to be released. After the heart attack, and intensive care, his condition stabilized for some time. He wrote one last poem for the nurse who took care of him. Even though he had a cardiac pacemaker, due to a second heart attack in July 2001, he died in September 2001.
Kızılok had 13 gold records to his name, and many number one singles. He was the first artist in Turkish history to be the object of a bidding war, ultimately receiving 50,000 lira to leave Sayan for Grafson. Many musicians have recorded covers of his songs, including Barış Akarsu (“Bu Kalp Seni Unutur mu?” and “Yeter Ki”), Funda Arar (“Haberin Var mı?”), Mehmet Erdem (“Bir Harmanım bu Akşam”), Mor ve Ötesi (“Sevda Çiçeği”), Leman Sam and Şevval Sam (“Gönül”), and Sibel Sezai (“Ben Gidersem”). The TV series Bu Kalp Seni Unutur mu? was named after one of his songs. Kızılok was also an innovative instrumentalist and album arranger, the first to incorporate sitar and Indian tabla within Turkish pop music.