It’s been a sad year for music obituary’s, first there was Beastie Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch, followed closely by Disco Queen Donna Summer and Bee Gee Robin Gibb; now we must add another R.I.P. in honour of Eduard Khil, aka Mr. Trololo.
The Russian singer has died overnight, at the age of 77, in St. Petersburg after he was hospitalised in early April from suffering a stroke. According to The New York Daily, the stroke left Khil with severe brain damage and neural complications.
Known nationally in his native Russia for his career as an opera singer and sometimes pop star, Khil was best known to millions worldwide as Mr. Trololo, after TV footage of him performing a wordless song called “I Am So Happy To Finally Be Back Home” appeared on YouTube in 2009.
The 1976 television appearance quickly became an internet sensation, playing off the fact that Khil’s unique vocalisation sound like a combination of ‘troll’ (the internet act of aggravating people for no reason) and ‘lol’ (laugh out loud); giving birth to the ‘Trololo’ meme.
Viewed over 12million times on YouTube, the ‘Trololo’ meme also re-ignited interest in Khil’s singing career.
“I found out about it from my 13-year-old grandson,” he told RT, a Russian TV news program, in 2010. “He walked into the room, humming the song… So I asked him, ‘Why [are] you singing it?’”
“Grandpa, you’re home drinking tea here” replied the boy, “in the meantime, everyone’s singing your song on the Internet.’”
Of the song’s popularity, Khil also told Life News that “I Am So Happy To Finally Be Back Home” originally contained lyrics (sample: ‘I’m riding my stallion on a prairie, so-and-so mustang, and my beloved Mary is thousand miles away knitting a stocking for me’).
But Khil, along with the song’s composer, Arkady Ostrovsky, feared that its loose narrative about an American cowboy would not be looked favourably upon during its conception at the height of the Cold War in 1966. Instead, according to Khil, the pair “decided to make it a vocalisation. But the essence remained in the title.”
“The song is very playful,” remarked Khil, “it has no lyrics, so we had to make up something for people would listen to it, and so this was an interesting arrangement… I think that’s been the secret of its success.”
Khil was supportive of the video going viral, remarking of the endless comedic parodies that “I love it… [people are] having fun. It unites them.”
You can relive the original, followed by Khil’s reactions to the many tributes it spawned, below: