Fikret Kizilok was one of the most sophisticated songwriters of his time. He was a highly respected musician and a man of thought, regardless of his countless ups and downs throughout his career. With political and sarcastic lyrics and a wide musical understanding, Kizilok was one of the main figures in the Turkish music scene.

Kizilok was born in November 10, 1946, in Istanbul, Turkey. He first started playing the accordion in 1954 when he was a primary school student in Galatasaray Lycee. In 1960, he switched to the guitar and joined his friends’ band Cahit Oben 4. Although it was not a very long-lasting project, with Cahit Oben 4 Kizilok gained experience and recorded the first song he wrote.

After some singles and a similarly short-lived project, Veliahtlar, he decided to focus on his education to become a dentist. Even though he played with Kaygisizlar for a while, what changed his life was a trip to deep Anatolia. In Sivas, he met Asik Veysel (highly praised poet/troubadour) and as a result started playing baglama. When he returned to Istanbul, he recorded a version of “Uzun Ince Bir Yoldayim” (probably one of the most famous songs of all Turkish music history, written by Asik Veysel). With this single he drew a lot of interest, but his real breakthrough came with the next one, “Yumma Gozun Kor Gibi.”

In the first years of the ’70s, Kizilok recorded singles and toured. Just as he was climbing the stairs of stardom, Asik Veysel died in 1973 and Kizilok declared that he quit music. This was the first of many separations of his life with his music. Later in 1975, he formed a new band named Tehlikeli Madde. His music was re-forming into a more Anatolian pop style and for that he was severely criticized. In 1977, he released Not Defterimden, an album he recorded between 1971 and 1972. It was completely experimental and one of the first electronic albums recorded in Turkey. Not Defterimden was comprised of poems cited over an ambient background. He later quit music again to be a dentist.

With the ’80s, Kizilok resurfaced unexpectedly with a silent masterpiece, Zaman, Zaman. Completely acoustic, the album proved how a pop album could be done with proper musicianship and Turkish lyrics. “Yeter Ki,” “Zaman Zaman,” “Sevda Cicegi,” and seven more timeless classics marked this 1983 album as one the best albums to be ever recorded in Turkish music history. The 1980s also saw him and his colleague Bulent Ortacgil form the legendary art house Cekirdek Sanat Evi. Their collaboration ended up with Cekirdek Hatirasi-Biz Sarkilarimizi in 1984 and another true gem, Pencere Onu Cicegi, in 1986.

After the split of these two ambitious creators, Kizilok released Yana Yana in 1990 with an approach very similar to his previous works in the ’80s. “Bu Kalp Seni Unutur Mu?” instantly became an anthem for the lovers, but although it wasn’t as powerful as Zaman Zaman, Yana Yana featured some of the best examples of his matured songwriting. The humorous “Why High One Why” was a hint of where Kizilok wanted to sail for his next effort, Olmuyo Olmuyo (Dusler), which came two years later. With synthesizers everywhere, Kizilok screamed, whispered, and showcased his ever-searching soul.

1995 was a highly productive year for Kizilok as he released Yadigar and Demirbas. The first being a more personal one, the albums were a warm welcome back to his ’80s sound after the disappointing Olmuyo Olmuyo (Dusler). That same year, he released the symphonic poem Vurulduk Ey Halkim in the memory of reporter Ugur Mumcu, who was the victim of a disgraceful assassination in 1993.

His last album containing original material, Mustafa Kemal: Devrimcinin Guncesi, another symphonic poem, was released in 1998. Then came another long period of silence, this time because of his heart. While he was away in Bodrum, Gun Ola Devran Done, a compilation of his early works, was released. In 2001 he wrote “Kumsalda” for Sertab Erener (Eurovision champion in 2003), which led to expectations that he would write and record more. But the truth was different; he was getting worse day by day. His heart had been ailing him for a long time, and he died of a heart attack on September 22, 2001 in Istanbul.

A year later a best-of album covering all his career was released with the name Dunden Bugune Fikret Kizilok. In 2007, his previously unreleased material with Bulent Ortacgil written for a child’s play 20 years prior, Buyukler Icin Cocuk Sarkilari, was released. Remembered as a perfectionist and idealist musician, Kizilok is one of the greatest values the Turkish music scene has ever seen.

Tahsin Ünlü

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