Russian baritone crooner Eduard Khil, who became world famous two years ago when his 1976 performance of the song “I Am So Happy to Finally Be Back Home” went viral on YouTube, passed away today in St. Petersburg, two months after suffering a stroke that caused irreversible brain damage.
He was 77.
Known to most as “Mr. Trololo,” Khil initially rose to fame in the Soviet Union, where he was a popular entertainer throughout the 60′s and 70′s. He suddenly regained his celebrity in 2010 when footage of his unique performance of Arkady Ostrovsky’s “I Am So Happy to Finally Be Back Home” began spreading online.
According to Internet lore, the song’s lyrics were censored for romanticizing life on the American prairie (Ostrovsky’s son, Mikhail, denied this). Khil replaced the lyrics with non-lexical vocables, producing the “trololo” yodel that became so popular with Internet users some three-and-a-half decades later.
After becoming a household name again, Khil was asked to perform on multiple Russian variety shows. President Vladimir Putin himself became a fan, sending his condolences to Khil’s wife and son upon learning of his death.
While he enjoyed his return to the spotlight, Khil initially expressed surprise at the sudden reemergence of the song, as well as resentment for being ignored by the Russian media for many years.