The Czech singer Karel Gott, very popular in Germany where he was nicknamed "Sinatra of the East", died at age 80, announced his wife Wednesday.
"With great sadness in my heart, I announce that my beloved husband Karel Gott died Tuesday just before midnight, after a long and serious illness," wrote Ivana Gottova on the singer's website. "He went home, peacefully asleep, surrounded by his family".
Gott had said last month that he was suffering from an acute form of leukemia. A few years ago he had been successfully treated for cancer.
"This is extremely sad news for our entire country, and Karel Gott was a real artist who gave himself to others," Czech President Milos Zeman said on Twitter.
Prime Minister Andrej Babis announced that he would propose to his government to hold a national funeral for Gott at St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague.
Also known as the "Divine Karel" because of his tenor voice, Gott was named 42 times "most popular singer" by the Czech "Rossignol d'Or" annual survey.
He has recorded nearly 300 CDs and CDs, of which he has sold millions of copies in some twenty countries. In 1975, he performed the song for the children's TV series "Maya the Bee".
He also sang "Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbison and "Forever Young" by Alphaville, but most of his original songs were written by Czech composers.
Born on July 14, 1939 in Pilsen (West Bohemia), Karel Gott was the first vocalist of varieties from an Eastern country in the 1960s to perform regularly in the West.
Passionate about many genres, from rock 'n' roll to opera, pop, blues and country, he retired in 1959 as an electrician fitter to devote himself to music. He was also a painter and occasionally actor.
Named "national artist" in 1985 by communist President Gustav Husak, Karel Gott sang the Czechoslovakian anthem during a Prague demonstration against the regime in December 1989.
He had two daughters with his wife Ivana, 37 years younger, and two other girls with previous companions.
© 2019 AFP