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[B]Eduard Khil, Unlikely YouTube Sensation, Dies at 77[/B]
[B]By ANDREW ROTH[/B]
[B]Published: June 5, 2012 [/B]
MOSCOW — Eduard Khil, a Brezhnev-era balladeer who experienced an improbable and unwitting YouTube comeback as “Mr. Trololo,” tra-la-lah-ing his way through a song whose lyrics about the American prairie were eliminated because of fears of Soviet censorship, died on Monday in St. Petersburg, [URL="http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/russiaandtheformersovietunion/index.html?inline=nyt-geo"]Russia[/URL]. He was 77.
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The cause was complications of a stroke, Russian state news media said.
Mr. Khil, a baritone trained at the Rimsky-Korsakov conservatory in what was then Leningrad, achieved early fame in his country for his renditions of popular folk songs. But he later shot to international attention when a 1976 video recording of him performing a song called “I Am Glad Because I Am Finally Returning Back Home” spread on YouTube in 2010.
The [URL="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oavMtUWDBTM"]“Trololo” clip[/URL], as YouTube fans called it, opens with a kaleidoscope of rainbows on a golden background. Mr. Khil then emerges wearing a car salesman’s double-breasted brown suit, a mustard-yellow tie and an ear-to-ear smile under a helmet of brown hair. As he tests his voice, he pantomimes a carefree walk and waves to imaginary passers-by. He sings joyfully, without ever using any actual words.
Whether Mr. Khil’s new fans laughed at him or with him is not clear. Stephen Colbert played the clip on “The Colbert Report” as a pick-me-up for his audience at a time when the news was dominated by a bitter deadlock in the United States Senate. Christoph Waltz, fresh from taking home the best supporting actor Academy Award in 2009, did a racy parody of the Khil video that he titled [URL="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwY4LuADupw"]“Der Humpink”[/URL] on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” Mr. Khil said he did not know about his new fame until he heard his grandson humming the tune — one he had sung more than 30 years ago.
In an interview with state news media in 2010, Mr. Khil said he and the song’s composer, Arkady Ostrovsky, pulled its original lyrics out of fear that the Soviet authorities would consider it pro-American and ban it. The lyrics described “John on his mustang traveling across the expanses of the prairie to his beloved Mary, who lives in Kentucky, waiting for him and knitting wool socks.”
When the two could not find suitable replacement lyrics, he said, Mr. Ostrovsky exclaimed, “If that’s how it is, let it be a vocalization!”
Mr. Khil was born in Smolensk on Sept. 4, 1934. Survivors include his wife, Zoya, and his son, Dmitry.
Mr. Khil embraced his online following, inviting fans to write substitute lyrics themselves.
“In every country, a person probably understands the song for himself, in his own way,” Mr. Khil said. “Then when you write it down, we’ll meet on the Internet,” where “all together we’ll sing the new lyrics to the song.”
He also did not mind his new name. “It’s great,” he said. “Now I want to perform not under the name of Eduard Khil, but under the pseudonym ‘Trololoman.’ At least I’m looking into the matter.”