Israeli rock legend Yitzhak Klepter dies at 72

i24NEWS

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Yitzhak Klepter
Moshe Shai/FLASH90Yitzhak Klepter

Tributes pour in for Israel's 'king of the guitar'

Guitarist Yitzhak Klepter, one of Israel's greatest rock musicians, died on Thursday at the age of 72. 

The cause of his death has not yet been made public. 

Top Israeli officials tweeted their tributes to the rock legend, whose career spanned five decades. “King of the guitar, a gifted composer and lyricist," Israeli President Isaac Herzog said. "His voice and melodies will be with us forever." 

Yair Lapid, the outgoing prime minister, thanked Klepter for "providing a wonderful soundtrack to our lives, that will stay with us forever." 

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Nicknamed "Churchill," Klepter was plying his trade for some of the most famous Israeli groups, such as Kaveret, Ahrit Al-Yim, and Tsilil, and penned hits for Arik Einstein. Among key titles he has composed are "Taking The Time," "Tilil Mi'un," "My Love Is Not His Love," "Bedouin Love Song," and "Free Imagination."

Born in Haifa, Klepter grew up in Tel Aviv, the hub of Israeli culture. He built his first guitar out of planks and fishing lines when he was 13. At the age of 15, he founded his first band, the Churchills, with Haim Romano, Miki Gabrielov, and others. After his military service, he embarked on a prolific career as a session guitarist and a songwriter-for-hire. 

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He then launched a successful solo career in the 1980s, recording his debut album "Yitzhak" in 1981, which included the hits "We met" and "My love is not his love." At the same time, he continued to compose for other leading artists and signed several soundtracks for films that were part of popular culture. 

A heavy smoker, Klepter experienced various health problems over the past two decades. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2000, then hospitalized in 2011 and 2018 following complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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