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Kirka (born Kiril Babitzin, September 9, 1950, in Helsinki, Finland) was a successful Finnish pop and rock vocalist. He was born into a musical family, and his interest was sparked when he was given an accordion at age five. Kirka attended accordion competitions at age ten with some success, but two years later he had switched his interest to singing. His band the Creatures started in 1962, and they recorded their first single in the summer of 1967. "Anna Suukko Vain" (Give Me Just a Kiss) was released by Love Records, a new company that would become one of the most important players in Finnish underground and alternative music scenes. Creatures disbanded soon after the release, and a new band, Islanders, was formed. A couple of months later, Kirka had his first hit, "Hetki Lyö" (a Finnish language version of "Beat the Clock"), with Islanders. His performances following this release attracted large and enthusiastic audiences, and for a few years he was one of the most visible and popular artists in Finland. His first solo album was 1969's Kirka Keikalla (Kirka on a Gig), which was recorded live in a studio. In the early '70s he recorded Finnish versions of Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson" and "Scarborough Fair" with his brother Sammy Babitzin, whose life and own budding career ended in a car accident in 1973. The following years were downhill for Kirka and, in the early '80s, his career was at an all-time low. He even tried his hand at singing heavy metal and hard rock on the Kimmo Kuusiniemi Band record Moottorilinnut (Motorbirds). His comeback began in 1984 when he attempted to win the Eurovision song contest with his song "Hengaillaan" (Let's Hang Out). He placed ninth in the contest, but it gave him enough momentum to continue his career. His albums R.O.C.K. (1986) and The Spell (1987) were somewhat successful continuations of his attempts at forging a hard rock career. In 1988 he won a popular Finnish singing competition, Syksyn Sävel (The Autumn Tune), and the album named after the winning song, Surun Pyyhit Silmistäni, wound up as number three on a chart of all-time best-selling Finnish albums. In a version sung in English, the song was also popular in Greece. He followed this success with a string of gold and platinum records, including a joint concert venture in 1998 with other popular singers: Hector, Pave Maijanen, and Pepe Willberg. Their live recording Mestarit Areenalla (Masters in the Arena) was a massive triple platinum success, and the following two tours were consistently sold out wherever they performed. His follow-up 50th anniversary tour in 2000 was equally popular, as were his new CD releases. Kirka died suddenly and unexpectedly in Helsinki on January 31, 2007, as he was about to take part in the Finnish version of the popular TV show Dancing with the Stars. He was buried next to his brother, Sammy. ~ JT Lindroos