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Czech Singer Karel Gott, ‘Sinatra of the East,’ Dies at 80

Czech singer Karel Gott, dubbed the “Sinatra of the East,” has died at the age of 80.

Gott, who revealed last month he had acute leukaemia, died Tuesday, according to spokeswoman Aneta Stolzova. Czech President Milos Zeman said it was “extremely sad news for our whole country.” Prime Minister Andrej Babis plans to hold a state funeral for Gott at Prague’s St. Vitus Cathedral.

Gott’s wife, Ivana Gottova, wrote on his website: “With the deepest sadness in my heart I announce that shortly before midnight on Tuesday my beloved husband Karel Gott passed away after a long and serious illness. He passed away at home, in quiet sleep, surrounded by his family.”

Born in Pilsen on July 14, 1939, Gott moved to Prague at the age of six. He trained as an electrician, but became a professional singer in 1960.

His career spanned six decades, during which he released more than 200 albums and sold tens of millions of copies around the world; he also appeared in 30 films. He released his last album last year.

Gott was most popular in Eastern Europe, where he was known as the “golden voice of Prague,” but he also found fame in Western Europe, and the U.S., where he performed in New York’s Carnegie Hall in 2005. As well as singing in Czech, he sang in other languages, including Russian, English, German and Italian.

His hits included cover versions of Western artists including Henri Mancini’s “Moon River” and Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman.”

He was particularly popular in Germany and Austria. In 1968, he represented Austria in the Eurovision Song Contest with the song “Thousands of Windows.” In Germany, he sang the title song of the hit animated series “Maja the Bee.”

He is survived by Ivana and their two daughters, as well as two older daughters from previous relationships.

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