Former Finnish Eurovision representative and one of the biggest legends of the Finnish entertainment Vesa-Matti Loiri has passed away at the age of 77. The sad news were verified to the Finnish media by Loiri’s manager Pete Eklund, who told that Loiri got a heartbreaking diagnosis in January this year. Eklund also says that the family and friends of Loiri hope they’d get peace for their grieving.
Vesa-Matti Loiri was one of the biggest legends of the Finnish entertainment and he was regarded to be one of the most pervasive Finnish artists. He was not only singer and musician, but also successful and award-winning actor, comedian and athlete. He first came into the public knowledge in 1962, when he made a very powerful performance in the movie Pojat (Boys). Loiri was only 17-years-old when he acted in Pojat, and the director Mikko Niskanen later told Loiri had his own kind of special charm even at young age, and that charm became even stronger when Loiri got older.
As an actor Loiri did many kind of roles from tragedy to comedy, and he had an amazing ability to be convincing in every role. As a comedian he was best known for the character of Uuno Turhapuro, which he acted in 20 successful movies between 1973—2004. Turhapuro was a scruffy and lazy man who had some weird kind of charisma in spite of his untidy looks and who managed to talk his way out of any situation. In the movies Turhapuro adventured for example in army and in Spain.
As a musician Loiri was best known for his interpretations of the Finnish lyricist Eino Leino’s (1878—1926) poems. Loiri sang Leino’s poems for the first time in 1978, and he released 4 albums of Leino’s poems in total. The last one of these albums was released in 2001. In total Loiri released over 30 albums, the last album was Pyhät tekstit, released in 2016. Here you can listen to Loiri’s interpretation of one of Eino Leino’s best known poems Elegia:
Loiri represented Finland in The Eurovision Song Contest in 1980 in The Hague with his song Huilumies (The Flute Man). The song was composed by Aarno Raninen specially for Loiri. In his Eurovision performance Loiri sang and played flute. Loiri himself said he liked Huilumies from the very first time he heard it, and he thought the song had all that was needed: good composition, rhythm and lyrics.
Loiri suffered from many health issues during the last decades of his life. He suffered from diabetes, hypertension and sleep apnea. In 2010 he had a seizure which almost killed him. Even though he later got his diabetes under control, he told the disease had done a permanent damage to the neural pathways of his legs, and his movement became much more difficult. He also had to give up playing flute since the motor functions of his left little finger had also become weaker because of diabetes.
In January 2022 Loiri got a heartbreaking diagnosis, when he found out he had two different cancers and he was told he only had a couple of months to live. Loiri didn’t tell his diagnosis in public and wanted to spend his final moments at home, meet his friends and stay away from publicity. According to Loiri’s manager Pete Eklund the artist accepted the ending of one journey and beginning of another, and Loiri was even a little bit curious to see what is coming next. In July 2022 Loiri got into the hospital, where he died on the August 10th 2022.
Loiri’s death has been received with a grand sorrow in Finland, and numerous public figures have expressed their condolences in public. Loiri’s life and career have been respected all around the Finnish media and it is clear that all generations have been effected by Loiri’s work.
We want to express our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the legendary Vesa-Matti Loiri and thank The Great Artist for his work that will be remembered and respected.