Einstein, Arik

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EINSTEIN, ARIK (1939– ), Israeli pop-rock singer, actor. Einstein's initial performances were as a member of an army entertainment troupe, which he joined after his actor father encouraged him to go for an audition. Following his release from the army, in 1959, he acted and sang in a satirical theatrical show called Sambation. Einstein's debut four-song ep record was released the following year, and over the next four years he sang with several pop-folk bands, such as Green Onion and Ha-Ẓe'irim ("The Young Ones").

During this time he also furthered his acting career with parts in such acclaimed theater productions as Little Tel Aviv and Irma La Douce. Einstein's film career began with a role alongside his father in Nini. In 1964 he appeared in Ephraim *Kishon's Sallah Shabati, which took a bemused look at the difficulties faced by Jewish immigrants from Arab countries during the heyday of the Zionist movement in Israel. By 1972 he was an established star and played a lead role in the highly risqué Uri *Zohar film Meẓiẓim ("Peeping Toms").

Einstein's musical career took a significant leap in the mid-1960s when he joined singers Yehoram *Gaon (who was later replaced by Israel Gurion) and Benny Amdursky to form the Yarkon Bridge Trio. Over the next two years the band was the most successful act on the Israeli pop scene. In 1965 and 1966 Einstein placed first in the annual Israeli Song Festival with Ayelet ha-Ḥen and Leil Stav, respectively, and became a household name.

In 1969 Einstein revealed a rawer side to his artistic temperament when he recorded the first Israeli rock record in Hebrew, Puzi. It was shortly after this that Einstein joined forces with singer-guitarist Shalom *Hanokh and, together with other young artists such as Uri Zohar, American-born singer Josie Katz, and singer-songwriter Shmulik Krauss, produced a film called Shablul ("Snail"), which documented the making of the milestone rock record of the same name, with some loosely structured comedy sketches bridging the intervals in the music. Einstein also appeared in the comic skit series Lul, which was screened on Israeli television in July and September 1970, and was released as a full-length movie in 1988. In 1971 Einstein recorded an album of children's songs together with American-born guitarist Rob Huxley.

In 1973 Einstein changed musical direction, breaking away from the largely high energy rock material of the previous four years to produce a record of folk-oriented, more traditional songs called Ereẓ Yisrael ha-Tovah ve-ha-Yeshanah ("Good Old Israel"). Over the next decade Einstein put out more nostalgia-tinted records, collaborating with songwriter-musicians such as Shem-Tov Levi, Yitzhak Klepter, Yoni Rechter, and Miki Gabrielov.

In 1982 he was involved in a serious road accident and his next album, Shavir ("Fragile"), released in 1983, revealed a more vulnerable side to Einstein's character. Around this time he also stopped performing live. In the later 1980s and early 1990s Einstein produced several albums of children's songs, along with Levi and Rechter, and two video tapes called Kemo Gedolim ("Like Grownups") and Kemo Gedolim 2. In 1992, Einstein reunited with Zvi Shissel, who had produced Shablul, on a movie called Kevallim ("Cables"), a parody on cable television which had just become popular in Israel at the time. Kevallim also included some memorable musical collaborations, including a duet with singer Yehudit Ravitz, and comedy routines with well-known comic Moni Moshonov.

In 2001, Einstein renewed his professional relationship with Hanokh, recording a new version of Aggadat Desheh, written by the late Meir Ariel who grew up on the same kibbutz as Hanokh. Einstein and Hanokh also recorded a new album. In 2005 Einstein received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Israeli artists' association, acum, in recognition of his songwriting and comedy sketch-writing contributions. He had maintained his position as the "prince" of Israeli pop music for four decades.

[Barry Davis (2nd ed.)]