Alemayehu Eshete, The Ethiopian Elvis dies at 80


Alemayehu was a star, a performer, and a soul shaker that moved every crowd and every stage he possessed. The legend was born in Jimma, Ethiopia, in 1941. While attending high school, he tried to run away from his family, to leave for the United States, convinced he had a shot in Hollywood. But due to complications at Massawa port, he returned to Addis Ababa. 

The 1960s, an era of revolutionary art,  gave not only Alemayehu but many artists the liberty to express themselves, society, and the intervention of new ideas. Some remember that he used to dress up like a suburban cowboy, with his shining boots and his cowboy hat, performing in a small cafe called Texas in piazza. impersonating the king of Rock and Roll Elvis Presley.

His talent was recognized by Colonel Retta Demeqe, who invited the young singer to perform with Addis Ababa’s famous Police Orchestra. After joining the police orchestra, he moved onto most of the renowned private music bands Black Soul, Shebeles, Alem- Girma Band, and  Soul Ekos band. 

He had his first hit “Seul” in 1961 following with “Temar lije”, “man Yehone Talak sew” and “chigeresh Bene alfual”.

He was an outstanding singer who took risks alongside visionary artists like Amha Eshete. When Amha Records was established he was the first artist that shared the same vision with Amha, to produce a piece of authentic Ethiopian music that has the potential to reach an international audience. They released the first Vinyl record in Ethiopia amusing the youths of the 196os. 

During the Derg regime, Alemayehu and his fellow artists were exiled to the United States of America. He started playing for Ethiopian Diaspora in Europe and America, which gave him the opportunity to release his early music on a series of compilations of compact discs with a title of Buda Musique’s Ethiopiques.  

In his later years, he had problems with heart disease. He died at midnight of 2 September 2021 in a hospital located in Addis Ababa. He was spending days with his friends and complained about discomfort due to heart disease after going home around 7 am (LT). 

He was an undeniably talented and charming man, with over 15 years of engagement in his music, as he sealed the hearts of his fans he’ll always be remembered as The Ethiopian Elvis, who sang about things that matter and his grooves that dared to seduce his generation.