Karel Gott dies aged 80

Czech pop singer Karel Gott, who was incredibly popular in Czechia as well as neighboring Germany, has died. He was 80.

Gott died Tuesday night at his home in Prague after battling a long illness, his family said in a statement.

He was considered the most successful Czech male singer.

Gott recently announced he was undergoing treatment for acute leukemia. He was also diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome in 2016.

“Extremely sad news for our whole country. Karel Gott was a real artist who gave himself to others,” the Czech President Miloš Zeman said in a statement.

Gott was born in Pilsen in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, now a city in the western Czech Republic. He started his career in 1958 as an unsuccessful participant in an amateur singing contest in the Prague Slavonic House, but he managed to obtain performance slots on his own and decided to become a professional singer.

In 1962, Gott released his first single, a duet with the jazz singer, Vlasta Průchová entitled “Až nám bude dvakrát tolik,” translated as “When we are twice as old.”

Since he made his debut, Gott released over 300 records and albums and sold estimated dozens of millions of records worldwide. He was considered a star behind the Iron Curtain and was dubbed as the “Sinatra of the East” and “The Golden Voice Of Prague” by the German media.

Gott was voted the country’s best male singer in the annual Český slavík national music award 41 times. He was also awarded the Gold Medal of Hermann Löns in Munich, Germany, for his role in the development of German traditional song.

He is survived by his wife and 4 children.