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 death of the exceptional singer, Eduard Khil, is an irretrievable loss to Russian culture,” Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Monday in a statement expressing his condolences. “He was truly a people's artist. Several generations of people loved his songs not only in this country but also abroad.”
That notorious TV clip -- described by the Ministry in 2010 as “the high-speed freeway chase of music videos” -- was uploaded to YouTube in November 2009 and later renamed “Mr. Trololo original upload,” according to the Know Your Meme website. The original upload has notched almost 12.5 million views, with copycats racking up millions more.