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But he belonged to people my age - 10 years older, perhaps, and 10 years younger - more than to any other generation. He was our comrade in arms, our partner in life, our guide to a brave new world. He gave us our first pop combo, our first supergroup, our first Hebrew rock and roll, our first protest songs, our first rebellion, our first defiance, our first taste of forbidden fruit, our first detoxification from the constrained and conservative Mapainik dogma that governed every part of our lives. He was a beach bum in Tel Aviv, a connoisseur of wine, women and song, a voracious consumer of Lebanese hashish before we knew what that was.
He became a singing sensation from the day he joined the army’s popular Nahal singing ensemble at the age of 18, a popular actor, comedian and impersonator before he was 25. But it was with the “Yarkon Bridge Trio” that he set up with two other singers in 1964 that Einstein began to trail blaze his way in Israeli music, to churn out a seemingly endless supply of legends and anthems and immortal tunes that Israelis know by heart to this very day.
With his Hebrew covers for the Beatles and Animals, Einstein took Israelis by the hand and weaned them off the Italian songs and French chansons with which they had been force fed in late 50s and 60s. Together with bad-boy songwriter Shmulik Kraus and the American-born singer Josie Katz, he formed Israel’s first-ever pop group, “the High Windows” in 1966, thrilling young Israelis with a Mamas and Papas style harmony and shockingly irreverent songs about the bible and the military that were banned by both Israel and Army radio.
But it was after the group broke up that Einstein began producing the iconic songs that etched a generation. He gave Israel its first ever rock album, with “Poozy.” He linked together future superstar singers, songwriters and comedians in the Shablul ensemble that produced not only stellar albums but, with his pal Uri Zohar, unbearably funny television comedies as well.
Together with the young Shalom Hanoch, later a rock god himself, Einstein produced hit after smash hit after megahit and, from that point onwards, he never stopped once. He plucked one musical genius after another from obscurity and catapulted them to stardom, collaborated with the best and the brightest, gave a voice to budding songwriters and genius poets from the classic Haim Bialik to the modern Yankale Rotblit and many others as well.