Eduard Khil was born on 4 September 1934 in Smolensk to Anatoly Vasilievich Khil, a mechanic, and Helena Pavlovna Kalugina, an accountant. Life as a child was hard on Khil, with his family breaking up; he was brought up by his mother. During the Great Patriotic War (WWII Eastern Front), his kindergarten was bombed, he was separated from his mother and evacuated to Bekovo, Penza Oblast where he ended up in a children's home, which lacked basic facilities, such as food. Despite this Khil regularly performed in front of wounded soldiers in the nearby hospital. He was reunited with his mother in 1943 when Smolensk was liberated from Nazi Germany and in 1949 moved to Leningrad, where he enrolled and then graduated from printing college. In 1955, Khil enrolled in the Leningrad Conservatory, where he studied under direction of Evgeni Olkhovksky and Zoya Lodyi. He graduated in 1960. During his studies, he began performing various lead operatic roles, including Figaro in The Marriage of Figaro.
Career and success
After graduating he fell in love with pop music after attending a K.I. Shulzenko concert, and started to perform popular music. This led to him winning several prizes in the next two decades. He won the "All Russian Competition for Performers" in 1962 and was invited to perform at the "Festival of Soviet Songs" in 1965. He attained second place in Sopot International Song Festival in 1965. In 1967, composer Andrey Petrov won the USSR State Prize for a collection of songs performed mainly by Khil, and in 1968 Khil won the Meritorious Artist of the RSFSR. The Order of the Red Banner of Labour was awarded in 1971, and Russia's most prestigious artist award, the People's Artist of Russia, was awarded to Khil in 1974.He was so successful that the public called him the 'Symbol of Leningrad'.
Between 1977 & 1979, Khil taught solo singing at the Saint Petersburg State Theatre Arts Academy.
After his singing career faded in the early 1990s, Khil re-entered private life and worked in a cafe in Paris, singing cabaret. Since 1997, Khil has been involved with his son in a joint project with the rock group Prepinaki.
After retiring from a singing career, Khil slowly faded into obscurity in his later years. In 2010, Khil reclaimed the spotlight when he became the subject of the viral Trololo internet meme on YouTube, thanks to the spreading popularity of a single-serving website "Trololololololololololo.com" featuring a 1976 video of a vocalised version of the song, "I Am Glad I'm Finally Going Home"[note 1] (Я очень рад, ведь я, наконец, возвращаюсь домой).
Songs and style
He was the first artist to sing such songs as Woodcutters (Лесорубы in Russian) and Moon Stone (Лунный камень) by Arkady Ostrovsky, and Song about Friend (Песня о друге), Blue Cities (Голубые города), And People Go To the Sea (А люди уходят в море) by Andrey Petrov. Other popular songs performed by Khil included From What the Homeland Begins? (С чего начинается Родина?), How the Steamers Are Seen Off (Как провожают пароходы), Winter (Зима), Birch Sap (Берёзовый сок), Alder Catkin (Серёжка ольховая), We Need Only the Victory (Нам нужна одна победа), and many others.
Khil's manner of execution of songs is unique and easily recognizable in Russia, characterized by charm, always having a great sounding bright, sonorous voice and the flight of lyrical baritone, with the powerful charge of optimism and humour. On the stage Khil kept very confident, smart, accompanying singing light dance moves and spectacular gestures. By never changing his academic style of singing, Khil enjoyed enviable career longevity.