Eduard Khil, known to most Western audiences as Internet star “Mr. Trololo,” died early Monday in St. Petersburg after suffering a stroke in April. He was 77.
Khil, a baritone who was popular in the 1960s and ’70s in what was then the Soviet Union, received a number of awards during his career, including the People’s Artist of Russia honor, but it wasn’t until a 1976 TV performance surfaced online in late 2009 and hit big in early 2010 that he enjoyed international fame.
The kitschy (and oh-so-catchy) wordlessness of the Trololo song, more properly known in rough translation as “I Am So Happy That I’m Finally Coming Home,” interestingly had its roots in Cold War-era history. After the original lyrics about a cowboy riding his horse home in Kentucky didn’t fly with Soviet censors — it’s unclear if the ban was official or unofficial — the words were turned into vocalizations instead.
And decades later, a star was born.