Muslum Gurses (Müslüm Akbaş) or known as Baba, one of the milestones in Turkish arabesque music, had been a phenomenon in the 90s and was mercilessly criticised by authorities because of his fans who slash themselves by blades. After hard sledging, his musical identity had changed as singing different genres. He had also covered some popular Turkish songs of various singers and composers such as Tarkan, Teoman, Nilufer, and Sezen Aksu. In 2006, he vocalised an album, named Ask Tesadufleri Sever, comprised of covers of well-known English songs and the lyrics were written by a famous Turkish writer, Murathan Mungan.
Muslum Gurses was born in 1953 in Urfa, Turkey. He spent early days of his childhood in his birthplace, then his family moved to Adana, a mid-southern city in Turkey, due to economic problems. He worked at several different jobs including tailoring, shoemaking. Following finishing primary school, he won a competition and by the time his professional singing career had begun. In 1968, he moved to Istanbul, the most populous city in Turkey, in order to record his first phonograph. A shedload of the first album was sold and a new era for Muslum Gurses had been started. Unfortunately, he had a dreadful car accident during the Anatolia tour and his forehead was fractured. Here is his briefing after the unfortunate accident:
The driver was dead in the accident. They thought I had been dead, too. They took me to the hospital. Indeed, I had experienced death. It is God’s blessing that I was revived. My forehead bone is such small that I could die in a mini crush or I could be blind. I had a surgical intervention at which a panel was implanted in my forehead to protect my brain. Sadly, I cannot smell anything. Strong perfumes smells like spirit to me. Moreover, my hearing is 50% disabled. Regardless, I am thankful for small blessings…
Following the unlucky accident, he released several albums that were sold like hot cakes including Ozur diliyorum senden, Isyankar, and Ben insan degil miyim. In 1979, he starred in the movie Isyankar for the first time. In 1985, he married to Muhterem Nur, his favourite actress in his childhood, whom he met her in Malatya during Anatolia tour.
His extraordinary fans
At the beginning of the 90s, a substantial fanatic mass, which emerged on the basis of the great interest and was referred to as the Muslumculer, began to harm themselves at his concerts. The loneliness of the Muslum Gurses songs, the anger of breaking up and the pangs of breaking up have all become increasingly a phenomenon. Despite the occasional reminder of the singer, many fans in the concert were hurting their bodies using razor blades. This situation, which created itself as a subculture in the arabesque, was instigating a fascination to the songs of Gurses.
Towards the end of the 90’s, these scenes, which took place in his concerts and was resembling rituals, began to receive a great deal of response from many parts of the society. Gurses could not see the attentiveness to the albums he had released earlier, and it caused his fans react greatly to the video clip which was shot on a luxurious boat. The crowd of listeners consisted mostly of suburbs who thought that they could be seen a second-class human treatment that could not adapt to the city. This situation created a contradiction within his fans. Muslum Gürses also parted company with the Elanor Record Company which he worked with them for 15 years.
Gurses, who did not look much on the screen, began to take up more space in the media over time. The winds of this change would also be reflected in Gurses’ musician identity. He gave the first signals of this change by interpreting Nilufer’s Olmadi Yar, also vocalised Teoman’s Paramparca and Tarkan’s Ikimizin Yerine. Gurses also commented on the critics of himself:
In recent days, there have been raising opinions such as ‘’change‘’ in Arabesque territories! We have not been changed. Today, we are the same as we were yesterday… Even though it seems that there is a slight difference in the backing track, we keep our music the same. We are not in an act of moving away from our style nor we have tried. We vocalised those pop songs in our own style.
In 1979, Gurses, starring in the film Isyankar for the first time, featured in 39 films. In 2006, Gurses took his place in the music market with his collaborative project Muratan Mungan’s Ask Tesadufleri Sever. Gurses, sang the compositions of many foreign musicians such as David Bowie, Garbage, Leonard Cohen, Jane Birkin of which lyrics were written by Mungan, made a tremendous impression. In November of 2010, he released an album called Yalan Dunya with Pasaj Music.
On November 15, 2012, due to problems in the liver and kidney, a stent was implanted to his heart and his condition got worse on Sunday, November 18, 2012. Muslum Gurses, who was detained at the Memorial Infant Hospital Intensive Care Unit connected to a respiratory device for about 4 months, died on March 3, 2013, at the age of 60.
Although he passed away in 2013, the importance of him to Turkish youth and his fans has still been increasing day-by-day. His voice keep resounding in many places and on TV. His latter albums have still prevalently been listened by both his extraordinary fans and society.