Omega reported on their Facebook page that János Kóbor, a well-known Hungarian rock legend has died at the age of 79. He held both a Kossuth Prize and a Liszt Ferenc Prize, the highest order of music awards in Hungary.
András Trunkos, the manager of the Omega band, told MTI that the veteran musician, singer, lyricist and composer died on Monday, a short while after was hospitalised due to coronavirus.
János Kóbor was born in 1943 in Budapest and finished his studies at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. His interest in music started during his high school years. Omega was formed by the way that two school bands, in one of which Kóbor also played as a guitarist, merged together. The band’s first performance was in 1962, in the dormitory of the university which Kóbor attended.
At the beginning, the band only played English hits. However, after the major leap of the university gig, their career took off, and they started recording their own songs. From 1971, János Kóbor, nicknamed Mecky, was the sole singer of Omega.
The “golden” team of Omega formulated around ’67-68. The band consisted of János Kóbor and László Benkő singers, György Molnár guitarist, Tamás Mihály bass guitarist, József Laux drummer and last but not least, Gábor Presser keyboardist.
Omega was invited to the UK in 1968 where they were advertised under the name “Omega Red Star”. The band composed their first album in the UK which they recorded at Hanglemezgyár.
Unfortunately, due to the political regime in Hungary back then, Omega’s international career could not take off, but it quickly became one of the most popular beatbands in Hungary. The apex of the era came when they published their album called 10 000 lépés (10,000 steps) with hits like Petróleumlámpa (Petroleum lamp) and the famous Gyöngyhajú lány (Pearls in her hair).
Gyöngyhajú lány (Pearls in her hair) received a prestigious award at the 1st World Popular Song Festival held in Tokyo organised by the Yamaha Music Foundation (Yamaha Music Festival).
Since then, it has been remade and recomposed numerous times by various musicians and bands worldwide.
János Kóbor published a solo album in 2010 and in 2013. Omega, 51 years after its formation, even toured in Russia. They recieved countless reputable awards.
Kóbor received his Lisz Ferenc Prize in 1987. The following year, he was awarded the Magyar Érdemrend tisztikereszt (Officer’s Cross of the Hungarian Order of Merit).
As a member of the Omega band, he received a shared Kossuth Prize in 2013 for their pioneering work in the Hungarian popular and rock music industry. Kóbor was also awarded Budapest díszpolgára (Decorated citizen of Budapest) in 2013.
Tragically, Omega’s latest album was published one week after the death of László Benkő and Tamás Mihály. János Kóbor died on Monday, at the age of 79.
The death of János Kóbor shook the entire Hungarian music scene. Many people have expressed their sorrow. Even the Prime Minister of Hungary has posted a photo to remember the legendary musician. Karácsony Gergely, the Mayor of Budapest, also expressed his condolences, and so did Kóbor’s bandmate Gábor Presser and many other musicians, relatives and fans.
Leslie Mandoki recorded a video message saying that Kóbor was one of the main pioneers in the great generation that paved the road for others. “You will be missed very much, and you left a huge void behind.”
He also raised attention to vaccination, saying that Kóbor might be still with us if he would have been accepted the jab.
The German Scorpions, who has been nurturing a close friendship with Omega since the ‘70s, also expressed their condolences.