It's a sad day for fans of "The Idol of the masses" or "Dark-Skinned Nightingale" as of March 30 marks the death anniversary of Egypt's renowned singer Abdel-Halim Hafez.
The Idol of the masses was one of the most successful, rare Egyptian stars, with over fifty songs and 16 movies to his name.
Moreover, Hafez had many hit records, performed concerts at famous venues like Royal Albert Hall in London, and had many songs in the Cairo Opera House.
The Dark-Skinned Nightingale is also considered to be one of the greatest Egyptian musicians and singing Legends along with Umm Kulthum, Mohamed Abdel Wahab, Mohamed Fawzi, and Shadia.
The late star is well-known for some of his seminal works, such as Lahn El Wafa' (The Song of Faithfulness), Mawed Gharam (Love Rendez-vous), Fata Ahlami (The Man of My Dreams), Yom Men Omri (A Day of My Life) and his last film Abi Foq El Shagara (My Father Atop a Tree).
Despite his death forty four years ago, he was and remains the most important and successful of Egyptian singers.
In addition to this, there are still many people who visit his home and his grave, writing on its walls words of love and longing, even complaints about the problems they face as if he were alive to listen.
The prominent star was born on June 21, 1929, in Halaw, at the Egyptian country side. Hafez is actually not his real family name. His real name was Abdel Halim Ali Ismail Shabana, but Hafez Abdel Wahab, a radio executive, discovered him and in turn, Hafez took Abdel Wahab’s first name as his last, according to Elcinema.com.
With the overwhelming success of Abdel-Halim’s first breakthrough in the film Our Sweet Days (1955), Egyptian Cinema was liberated from much of its classicism, and pushed in a more youthful direction.
On this basis, the new cinema favoured the vividness and fun of youth, who tended to dress casually, riding bicycles or visiting their sweethearts in boats, exactly as Abdel-Halim did in Days and Nights (1955).
The greatest cinematic success Hafez achieved resulted from his success as a singer in the first place.
Moreover, Hafez’s participation in “Our Sweet Days” along with veterans Faten Hamama OmarEl-Sheriff and Ahmed Ramzy, established the idea of a younger cinema which prevailed afterwards.
Later on, Hafez stabilized his cinematic success in several films such as “Ayam w Lialy” (Days and Nights), “Banat el-Youm” (Nowadays’ Girls), “El-Wisada el-Khalia” (The Abandoned Pillow), “ El-Khataya” (The Sins) among others.
In the same context, the young audience favoured the new cinematic style presented by Hafez because of its vividness. The young Egyptian audience, especially girls, started to view Hafez as a romance icon and their dream man, each of them wanting her sweetheart to visit her in a boat, exactly as he did in the “Ayam w Lialy” movie.
Indeed, the overwhelming cinematic success Abdel-Halim achieved formed a strong background to his singing success. The opposite was also true. Actually, this frail young man, who came from unknown village in hinterland, turned into the idol of the masses and a box-office star.
In 1977, the veteran star died at the age of 48 after battling a parasitic worm for several years.