Nikos Portokaloglou

Nikos Portokaloglou


1957 (December 30th): He is born in Volos. His father, a refugee from Smyrni, works there for an oil company. His mother is a native, with roots in two villages of the area, Almyros and Mitzela. He is the second child of the family, after one brother who is older by four years.

1958 - 1961: Due to his father work, the family moves to Crete for a year, then returns to Volos for a while, and finally settles in Athens, in the suburb of Nea Smyrni

1963 - 1969: Primary school years. He studies at the 3rd, the 1st and the 6th school of Nea Smyrni. In the third grade he meets Odysseas Tsakalos, the person who will later become his main partner in the creation of the band FATME, as well as in his personal career, and who at the time was simply…the best football player of the school.

1969: Junior High school student at the Evangelical School of Nea Smyrni. His basic interests, besides schoolwork, are drawing and football. His first musical influences, via his parents, are the easy listening songs of the earlier years, the songs of Hadjidakis with Nana Mouschouri, international artists of the period such as Frank Sinatra and Yves Montant, and some other pieces of classical music. Through the music influences of his brother he meets the Beatles, Jimmy Hendrix and also the LP Perivoli Tou Trellou by Dionisis Savvopoulos.

1970: In the second grade of junior high school he acquires his first guitar – a guitar which was a left-over of similar youthful activities of his father, forgotten by him in a trunk in the family house in Volos – and with the help of a method of practical learning, plus a sudden personal passionate drive, he starts to study for hours, playing songs from records by ear.

1972 - 1973: He makes an effort to study at a music school – the National Conservatory of Nea Smyrni. Being a practical guitarist with an individual approach on the study of music, he becomes disappointed by the formal style of learning based on the classical standards. After attending guitar lessons for a while and some lessons in music theory over one year, he abandons his studies.

1973 - 1974: With some of his friends from school - amongst them Odysseas Tsakalos who had already started to play the drums – they create a band and start performing at friends’ homes or school dances, covers of songs by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jimmy Hendrix and old rock n’ roll songs…
At the same time, during their more private get-togethers, the members of the band play and study the earlier works of Manos Hadjidakis (Blood Wedding , A Tale With No Name etc.). With his friend Giorgos Filippakis – who later became known as a member of the band Hanome Giati Remvazo – they start writing their first songs together, which are “imitations of the foreign songs that we played” and whose lyrics are, of course, in English.
1975 - 1977: He finishes High School. After being prompted to do so by his parents – and due to his earlier aptitude for drawing – he takes the entry exams for the School of Architecture but fails. At the same time he begins to take lessons in Byzantine music at the National Conservatory of Nea Smyrni and begins to write his first songs with Greek lyrics and issues with which he is preoccupied at the time in his effort to create his career. One of the most interesting songs of this first period is – the later well known song – ASOTOS IOS (Prodigal Son) and the song PISO AP’ TIS GRILIES (Behind the Shutters), which of course will enter into the discography with the first record of FATME, 4-5 years later. For an extended time period he attends the music school Ainian at Patisia, where his studies prove more vital than his earlier attempts, with regards to his approach to the guitar and vocals.

1978: With a group of friends and ex-schoolmates in Nea Smyrni – that is composed of Tsakalos and Mihalis Moustakis and the later Hanome Giati Remvazo Haris Kavalieratos, Argiris Amitsis and Giorgos Filippakis – they perform their own theatrical play at the cultural club of their area, which is mildly surrealistic and is entitled VISITING THE GRAVE OF COLOMBINA. The effort progresses between them to end up being a conflict between realism and surrealism on stage. From the name of a girl whom the characters of the play are waiting for, in order to unravel their engrossment concerning a very important issue, the group acquires its name from the spectators of the neighborhood. FATME. The group will perform 2-3 more theatrical plays written by its members – amongst these is one by Nikos Portokaloglou entitled THE ELVES AT MY OFFICE to which belongs the song YESTERDAY EVERYTHING SEEMED FINE which is included in the first record of FATME and also some children’s fairytales by his later wife, Marina Katsioti – but in the end it will turn to performing only music and concerts. During the same period, for clearly economic reasons, he will play the bass guitar at various popular music venues of the era, at first in Crete and later on in Athens. The venue TSIN TSIN at Zoodochou Pigis Street in the center of Athens with Beba Diamantopoulou, Giannis Dounias, George Gerolimatos, Magia Melagia and musical director Gerasimos Lavranos. This rather tough – as far as the hours are concerned – experience will be coupled with a broad knowledge of popular music as well as an ascertainment of the elements of charm and humanity of that particular music scene. After collaborating for a while with the band AGAPANTHOS, by playing the guitar at some of their concerts, he chooses teaching the guitar as a means to making an instant living. At the end of the year he leaves for Brussels in order to study there at a Fine Arts School, but after three months he decides that he is not interested in what he is studying and he returns to Greece.

1979 - 80: The nine-piece band FATME (Portokaloglou, Tsakalos, Moustakis – later to form FATME, Milionis: bass, Kavalieratos, Amitsis, Filippakis, Kerkiras – later to form Hanome Giati Remvazo and Ioanna Tsakalou: vocals) after continuing its concerts at various cultural clubs of the area for a while longer, where it performs many songs by its creative members, breaks up due to musical, lyrical and general ideological disagreements of its members.