He rocked his way to America from Athens and wound up staying in Oklahoma and reinventing the local music scene.
Basile Kolliopoulos, who made Oklahoma City his home-base for his rhythm and blues influenced rock sound that went worldwide in the 1980s, died Monday in Oklahoma City at age 59.
A raspy-voiced singer and guitar player of the Fortune Tellers, the Reverb Brothers and the Fensics, his bands were local nightclub favorites from the late '70s to just months before the crooner succumbed to cancer.
A memorial concert is being planned, said drummer Marty Dillon, 48, who played with the Reverb Brothers. “It's going to be a big void in Oklahoma City,” Dillon said.
Kolliopoulos and his bands opened for the Police, the Cramps, the Blasters and other major acts in Oklahoma City at a time when new wave and punk rock were taking hold.
The Fortune Tellers, with bass player Victor Goetz, drummer Michael Newberry and brother Miho Kolliopoulos on lead guitar, toured nationwide and their sound was released worldwide by New Rose Records in Paris.
The Fortune Tellers had a guitar-heavy and raunchy style of blues that exploded in the 1980s. Basile's the Reverb Brothers were a mainstay in Oklahoma City clubs in the 1990s until late last year when cancer took its toll and live shows were canceled.
Oklahoma City live music had never seen the likes of a loud rhythm and blues-driven punk rock act when the Fensics formed in 1978, said bass and guitar player Goetz.
“Basile was the birth, the reinvention of music in Oklahoma,” Goetz said. “There was nothing like it.”
“Basile had a real feel for rhythm and blues and rock 'n' roll music, there was no one more high energy than Basile,” Goetz said. “There was no punk or punkabilly bands before the Fensics in Oklahoma City.”
He left Oklahoma City to play guitar in the Senders in New York City in the early 1980s before moving back to Oklahoma City to reunite with his brother, architect Miho Kolliopoulos, and regrouped the Fortune Tellers in 1981.
In 1987, the Fortune Tellers' “Musick Without Tears” was released on New Rose. It made a top 10 album list on a Columbia, Mo., college music poll.
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