Ilhan Irem, the master of Turkish music, passed away on Thursday in the hospital where he was being treated for health problems.
Irem received many awards, including six Golden Plates, throughout his artistic life. He was deemed worthy of the "male artist of the year" and "artist of the year" title many times by various magazines, newspapers and institutions while his songs and albums were hailed as the "song of the year" and "album of the year."
Born in 1955 in Bursa, he took musical training and singing lessons in middle school before entering the world of music when he was chosen as a soloist in the school orchestra at the age of 14. In 1970, the Meltemler Orchestra, of which he was a member, won first place in the Marmara region in the high school music competition organized by Turkey's famous Milliyet newspaper.
During that period, he received offers from many professional music groups in Istanbul but remained in Bursa until 1972. With the same band, he continued to perform songs in the "dance music" genre at popular venues.
Irem, who dubbed the 70s the "romantic period" in his artistic life, produced singles and romantic hits during that time. After rejecting the record company's request to have other artists sing his compositions, his second 45-vinyl record "Yazık Oldu Yarınlara" ("Ode to Tomorrows") suddenly made the young artist one of the most popular singers in Turkey.
The success followed him in the years to come as his songs mostly hit the top of the charts. Then his musical style took a new path in his symphonic long plays, "Sevgiliye" which roughly translates into "to the lover." For the first time in history, the song has been the subject of academic study. He also composed poems for Turkish poet Nazım Hikmet.
He currently has seven books that he published, reflecting his perceptions of Turkish people. He married Hansu Irem, who is a psychology graduate from Middle East Technical University, on Oct. 1, 1991. His wife wrote the lyrics to many of Irem's recent works.