Arik Einstein, 74, a beloved Israeli singer and cultural icon whose voice was called the soundtrack of a nation, died Tuesday at a hospital in Tel-Aviv after collapsing at his home.
He died of an aneurysm, according to Gaby Barabash, director of Tel-Aviv's Ichilov Medical Center.
Born in Tel-Aviv in 1939, Arik (Aryeh) Einstein was a star athlete as a teenager. When called up for military service in the 1950s, the nearsighted youth was barred from combat service and tried out for an army entertainment troupe, almost accidentally launching a career that would span 50 years and most of the nation's history.
Teaming up with other musicians to lay the foundations for Israeli rock 'n' roll, Einstein used his voice and character to forge the young nation's pop music style. Taking it from folk to bohemian to rock and halfway back again, Einstein's work and performance blazed trails for others.
Einstein's personality and appearance were just as captivating as his trademark baritone. With a flair for serious acting as well as humor, he appeared in many skits and movies that have long been Israeli cult favorites, including the beach-bum movie "Metzizim"("Peeping Toms") shot in 1972 at a Tel-Aviv beach that still carries the name.
After barely surviving a car crash in 1982, Einstein stopped performing and became increasingly withdrawn, but continued prolific recording and musical collaboration with other Israeli artists.