Telish Died 112 Comments

The first time I saw Tilahun live, I couldn’t help the tears that fell down my cheeks. He was so humble when people would come and talk to him. He was on a wheel chair but yet he would try to raise himself up to show respect.

There are a few song by Tilahun I constantly listen too. He is the undisputed king of modern Ethiopian Music and I think that title is going to stay with him for the rest of my lifetime.

Tilahun Gessesse, 69, passed away at midnight on Sunday while he was being taken to the hospital feeling serious pain.

Rest in Peace Tilahun!

I’ve posted some old school videos of the Late singer so some of you youngins can listen and appreciate the style and grace.

I do have a few Tilahun jokes as well, which I would like to share with you guys but since it doesn’t translate that well, I might just podcast.

112 Responses to “Telish Died”

  1. 1 Lilye



  2. 2 Lilye

    Thank you Nolawi for the post!!!!
    Dimtsu anjeten bibelagnim…. loving the moves!

  3. 3 LoveJones

    Wow, a legend indeed. He has transformed the music industry and been a leader for several decades. That unique voice…WOW.

    First time I saw him live was in Denver and got a chance to jump on stage and take a picture with him…it was amazing.

    Rest in Peace

  4. 4 yebolelij

    I love Tilahun’s songs – specially the not so famous ones . My favorite one is ” Lanchi biye “.
    Nefs yimar .

  5. 5 Dinich

    Definitely an undisputed king of modern Ethiopian music.
    He hasn’t actually died. We can hear him anytime, anyday. He will live forever through his music.


  6. 6 W

    eweeeeeey! beTam sad! May God bless his soul.

  7. 7 munit

    Very sad. R.I.P. Tilahun

  8. 8 Aae

    RIP Tilahun..Ethiopia lost a big one this time. No one will ever take his place.

  9. 9 Bed_Ford

    May God bless his soul!! He is the legend of Ethiopian music.
    Thanks for giving us a forum to express our condolence.

  10. 10 luli

    I can’t even bring myself to listen to his songs today, which is what I usually do while working :( NEFS YIMAR

  11. 11 Yobi

    It’s a sad day. R.I.P. Tilish!

  12. 12 The Uncle

    May god bless his soul! Greatest of all time indeed.

  13. 13 mimi

    God rest his soul in peace, he will be missed..

  14. 14 baby

    what a loss. God be with his family

  15. 15 biskut

    A sad day for Ethiopia .It is so hard to be this famous for this long yet he did it because he is a true dimtsawi .May his soul rest in peace .:(

  16. 16 Chebudae Aligaz

    RIP, my favorite Telahun’s music were

    1- Abareh belew yanen ametsenga tegentaye wonbedae!
    2- Atentame yikesekese demame yefeseselat!
    3- wodefit belulet yeleyelet!
    4- yigeremal kumenana zala..
    5- then all the rest of gazillion zefens that he sang…he sang preety much about everything.

  17. 17 Journey

    The journey of life.

  18. 18 erm

    We used to say ….,
    then, when we were children….. Ahhhhhhhhh…

    “Awroplan Meta Eyegesegese,
    Bezefen Andegna,
    Tilahun Gessesse”

    Still the firts and the last!!

    God Bless your soul, Tilahun.

    We and your country miss you.


  19. 19 Wurgatu

    i would have given him my 10 years…

  20. 20 saronm6

    may he rest in peace, this is indeed sad.

  21. 21 Mestika

    we grew up with his voice. He sure is an icon. We Thank you Tilahun for your music that lives for ever and ever :-(

  22. 22 Mamit

    Word can’t describe the sense of loss in the Ethiopian Modern History. He was a Nationalist, Patriotic, Lover and Father. We heard it all though his music. I say for his funeral just play “Tenfashe Tekerso Yekemet Malkesha”, cause that songs describes everything about him and he sang for this day, that DAY is here.

    I am in such shock, wish I can take it all back, but he is in God’s hand now. Egzibher Amlake Nefse Yemar!

    We love you Telish, your songs will always remain in my heart.

  23. 23 justme

    err where is ethiojazz..????

    I say Nefse Ymare…

  24. 24 Dinich


    EJ wey frash awrdo teqemtual, in which case u have to go see him, or he has gone down to Addis for the funeral.:)

  25. 25 Addis Tunes

    Very sad indeed!!!!

    Tilahun Gessesse
    View Tilahun Gessesse

  26. 26 story

    I LOVe artist Dr. Tilahun gessesse forever and ever! I will miss him forever! He is my one and only one. I know everyone loves him but i love him the most I think. LOL!
    we lost our gold we will never get another one! BTW please don’t call him tilish! My sister calls him that i can’t stand her for it thank u.

  27. 27 endalc

    .our god give to good. rest solu of .our artist..father all to them ecsebit .ethiopians .artist. d/r tilahun gesese.

  28. 28 justme

    ohh Dinch…
    i should go and see ethiojazz aydel..

    yes I have never seen Tilahun live performance. I always thought i will get to see him one day. well, well…Nefse fav. cd is his last remixed cd called “AnDande NEgEROch”….ethio jazz will know this cd.

  29. 29 Matt Andrea

    Honoring Tilahun Gesesse — This is to let folks in the Washington, DC area who know, love and mourn Doctor Tilahun Gesesse that you can pay your respect and condolences between the period 4/21/09 (Tuesday) to 4/23/09 (Thursday) at 901 S. Highland Street, Arlington, VA 22204. This information from Art-topia. Please visit and spread the word.

  30. 30 Addis Tunes

    Here is a video report on AddisTunes from ETV on the passing of Gash Tilahun…..for those of us who could not be there:

  31. 31 bn

    This is a sad day. Here is an article for those who read Amahric that I found posted here
    Pray for the family and the people of Ethiopia.

  32. 32 MindwithoutC

    I am sure Ethiopians, more so those of us Addis Ababans are saddened by the legend’s death. Reason?

    The man, his music, and his DEFIANT attitude & stage confidence that no Ethiopian musician, IMO, was able to do it the way he single-handedly did it. IT is the EXPRESSING of himself both liguastically & bodily On a stage that is shared, YET, fearlessly dictated simply by a way that captivates his soul and his audiences thru the lifeless screen. Yet he had the ability to make it as though it was full of life… breathing his love songs thru it that sent a shivering chill to the women and opening a wound of the wounded guys… his songs ‘d send one to a place that one ‘d never set foot… imaginging what it feels like to be in love with an ABesha… or to pay a price being in love with one …

    Tilhun’s songs are timeless. There is NO argument there. Many talented sang but no one defied the culture on the stage, as Tilahun did. Be it pouring his emotions in a society that portrays itself as macho or being flirtous or dictator on the stage in front of the eyes of a society that walks itself in a tight societal norm. YET, Tilhaun got away literally with everything. He used his art, charm, confidence, machoness and talent. For this, I take my hats off for his defiant nature.

    He lived thru inner freedom. His songs are timeless and boundariless, even my Eritrean relatives of his generation & derg era generation of my Eritrean friends own his albums.

    His body language on the stage that dictated that he was in control was enviable. He earned everything thru his defiant attitude, his charm, his confidence, his art, his talent and the rest was HISTORY! the country & society, especially, the urbanites gave in.

    No doubt in my mind that those of us who are against any sort of control, be it parental, cultural, governmental or societal, envied his persona, stage attitude even if we might not like his arrogance. Because he had the ability to sniff those barriers and systematically attenuted them to his advantage that allowed him to be who he was and to extracting his potential to the max. That is what each of us individuals deserve to have.

    I, as a human being, can’t be happier for him for the fact that he was able to exercise that and became an image that could be emulated. what an artist, a defiant that is !

    His songs were expressed in a higher but comprehendable form of linguastic and art.

    He, long before he died, left a FOOTPRINT to the Heart of millions. I have nothing but deep respect and admiration for his ability to defy our collective mindset and cultural obligation while mainting in tact who he truly was. That is Classy ! simply ART & STYLE swinging in a pendulum of aching beauty!

    I simply had misty eyes, and aching heart and for sure the same with most of the crowd,(many women visibly sobbed) when we saw him in Oakland, CA in Jan 2007 with his defiant attitude to entertain while strapped unwillingly to his wheel-chair. it was hard to look to a man that dictated a stage. It was hard to look at a man that defied societal norm & expression. it was … it really was.

    A man who defy control was controlled by noone but nature. He refused to bow. His defiant tone, his still captivating voice… echoing a song that defied a room that was poorly equipped by sound abosorbers and sound system. He, as usual, albeit some unhappy look, marched on with the thing that he always did best. ..and we followed… I said to myself, what a waste, those of us who did nothing to contribute. what a waste to live & leave. what a waste! I am happy for him for the fact that Africa’s land was merciful & a blessing to him.

    For he DIDn’t UNHOOK his eyes from the opportunity, conducive environ & prize, that many Ethiopians (Africans) didn’t/don’t do and for that he was rewarded with what he earned…and for that, as a human being, not just a fan, I am the happiest person for him that he didn’t die in vain like the rest of us millions, billions.

    He didn’t live doing nothng. what a blessing! it was a purposeful life. May you, a blessed human being & a contributor, RIP!

  33. 33 Giftiko

    I believe the death of beloved Tilahun represents
    symbolic end of an era for generation of Ethiopians. Though most Ethiopians then were impoverished without the material wealth we are accustomed to see now, still people’s life was meaningful with simple pleasures or passion filled thanks to the beautiful voice of young Tilahun or his vocalsit friends and the talents of unparalelled songwriters as well as composers. His death is a reminder that innocent time in which these talented musicians made us one people is gone forever. That seems to be what people in his funeral lamented more than their idol.
    The decade when Tilahun and the Imperial Guard Band ruled was the golden era of Ethiopian music where the best in songwriting such as Sahle Degago, Tsefaye Lemma etc, the best in composing such as Nerses Nalbandian (Ethiopian of Armenian origin), Lemma Demissew as well as the best in vocals such as Tilahun, Mahmoud, Bizunesh & Hirut Bekele found each other to produce the best of the best, music and shows in Ethiopia. Unlike the ones we see in Ethiopian music industry in current times, the drive for Tilhaun and his then colleagues was not money. That is why in most cases their talent and fame did not translate to financial wealth. Their drive was to give their best to their adoring fans. As Tilahun said in one of his interviews, the only wealth he and his colleagues carry to their burial is the love and passsion of Ethiopians shown to them and to their music. Ethiopians from all its corners and terrains loved Tilahun or his colleagues and the music they were listening to during that golden period. This is a fact even Meles or Issayas would hate to admit. Would it be suprising, if they admit that they loved his songs though they hated his passion for the unity & integrity of his country.

    Ethio-Jazz had excellent articles here in this blog on the Bands that follow the Ethiopian Music Golden Era, I am hoping that EJ would use this opportunity to share with us the Ethiopian Music history prior to 1961.

  34. 34 Ephraim

    dude…you cound’t find a better picture than that?….

  35. 35 Ephraim


  36. 36 Nolawi

    yes i couldn’t…

    what is sad is that no one took some decent photos in his last years..

    betam betam yasazinal…

    there are good shots from like 20 years ago though.. but i dont think that is enough..

    He was in dc – any of the local ethio photographers could have called over there and asked to take some shots…

    i too could have done this… this is betam sad…

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