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Tapio Rautavaara is a Finnish singing legend with over 300 songs to his name whose recording career went all the way from 1946 until 1979. Born March 8, 1915, in Nokia, Finland, he initially rose to fame as a gold medalist javelin thrower at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London. The following year he sang a couple hit singles, "Reissumies ja Kissa" and "Päivänsäde ja Menninkäinen." He had begun his singing career a few years earlier in 1946 but hadn't scored a hit single until 1949, thanks in part to his newfound celebrity as an Olympic gold medalist. He was most successful during the early '50s, when he released some of his greatest hits, including "Kulkuri ja Joutsen," "Isoisän Olkihattu," "Ontuva Eriksson," "Sininen Uni," and "Juokse Sinä Humma." Meanwhile, he was also a star on the silver screen, having made his film debut as an actor in 1945 with Vain Sinulle. As with his singing, he was most successful as an actor during the 1950s, when he starred in a long list of films. While Rautavaara fell out of fashion during the cultural revolution of the 1960s, he remained active throughout that decade as well as the next. In fact, he was active right up until his death on September 25, 1979, in Helsinki; he suffered a brain hemorrhage after a fall. The tragic death of Rautavaara enhanced his legacy as a Finnish icon, and in later years his back catalog was reissued time and time again in a series of greatest-hits collections and exhaustive collectors' box sets. The most notable of these latter-day compilations are En Päivääkään Vaihtaisi Pois - Sata Levytystä Vuosilta 1946--1979 (1995), a five-CD box set repackaged for re-release in 2004, and Kulkurin Taival (2008), a mammoth 14-CD box set. ~ Jason Birchmeier
08 March 1915