Jaak Joala Dies, Pop Star Known Throughout Former Soviet Union ({{commentsTotal}})

Jaak Joala, one of the major Estonian pop stars of the Soviet era, has died at 64.

He had suffered from heart problems in recent years. His death Thursday evening, at home, was reported by Õhtuleht, according to menu.err.ee.

A pop star relatively little known in the West but whose Soviet-era fame earned him the tagline that he was familiar to "one-sixth of the world's population," and other accolades, Joala was later considered one of the Three Tenors of Estonia, the others being Tõnis Mägi and Ivo Linna.

News of his passing brought a flood of retrospectives and messages of condolences from political leaders, such as Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas.

Born in 1950 in Viljandi, Joala saw his career get off to a start in the late 1960s singing with Olav Ehala's Kristallid (Crystals).

In the 1980s, he was dubbed the "Kremlin's Nightingale" for his extensive recording and touring in Russia and the fact that much of his repertoire was Russian in that period. He then turned back to domestic audiences in the re-independence period.

For a taste of Joala's silky crooning at his early-period peak, check out Suveöö (Summer Night).

Estonian Public Broadcasting's vaults are rich in Joala material. One of the last segments, hosted by Vahur Kersna, can be viewed here (in Estonian).