Tarkan Tevetoğlu (born: October 17, 1972), is a Turkish singer-songwriter. Since the early 1990s, with the successful sales of his albums, he has been a prominent figure of the Turkish pop music, being known in both Turkey and Europe.
Tarkan Tevetoğlu was born on October 17, 1972, in Alzey, West Germany. His mother named him after the comic book character Tarkan. The name Tarkan is said to originate from an ancient Turkic king or title, meaning bold and strong. Tarkan's interest in music began in childhood. Tarkan and his five siblings moved to Turkey in 1986 with their parents settled in Karamürsel, Kocaeli. After his father's death, his mother married an architect, Seyhun Kahraman. Tarkan has three step-siblings named Adnan, Gülay and Nuray, from his mother's first marriage, and a brother, Hakan, and a younger sister, Handan, from her marriage to his father.
Tarkan started his high school there and took Turkish Art and Music lessons at the Karamürsel Advanced Music Association. After his family moved to Istanbul, he continued his music studies at the Uskudar Music Society and started performing at various venues. After finishing high school, he made plans to move to Germany for higher education and meanwhile he signed a contract with İstanbul Plak's owner Mehmet Söğütoğlu to release his first album.
1992–2000: Yine Sensiz, Aacayipsin and Ölürüm Sana
Tarkan's first album, Yine Sensiz, was released on cassettes by İstanbul Plak on December 26, 1992. He wrote the lyrics for three of the album's songs, and composed three other songs himself and chose "Kıl Oldum" to be its lead single. On 18 June 1993, three new versions of the album were released on CD. Alongside "Kıl Oldum", he made music videos for the songs "Kimdi", "Gelip de Halimi Gördün mü?", "Vazgeçemem" and "Çok Ararsın Beni". The album sold 700,000 copies in total. Wrote one critic: "It happened maybe for the first time in the world of Turkish music, that "slang" words were used in songs and the brave young man began to draw attention as much with his songs as with his green eyes."
In May 1994, his second studio album Aacayipsin was released in Turkey; it was subsequently released in Germany and Russia in 1996 and 1998 respectively. Artists Sezen Aksu, Ümit Sayın, Ozan Çolakoğlu and Yıldız Tilbe were among those who were featured on the album. Tarkan wrote the lyrics for four songs, three of which were also composed by him; "Hepsi Senin mi?", "Unutmamalı", "Gül Döktüm Yollarına", "Kış Güneşi", "Şeytan Azapta", "Dön Bebeğim" and "Bekle" were the songs that got separate music videos. Aacayipsin sold two and a half million copies and earned Tarkan the "Best Male Pop Music Artist" award at the Turkey Music Awards. The song "Hepsi Senin mi?" was also awarded with the "Best Lyrics", "Best Composition" and "Best Song" awards. In 1994, he experienced a dip in his celebrity status after he made a gaffe during an interview on a live broadcast marking the anniversary of the private Turkish TV channel ATV. When asked how he was on live television, his response was "Çişim var, ağabey." ("I've gotta pee, man.") He was publicly criticised for the comment and only after performing traditional songs on another TV special did he endear himself again to the nation. In part to remove himself from media scrutiny, Tarkan moved to New York in 1994 to learn English and complete his education at Baruch College. During this period he filmed a video to another song from his second album, "Dön Bebeğim", in New York. Again Tarkan stripped for this project, but this time he was sharing a bed with a female American model for the slow love song. While in America, he met the Turkish founder of Atlantic Records, Ahmet Ertegün. Tarkan has described Ertegün as his mentor in music and business. Ertegün, who died in December 2006, had long been preparing Tarkan for an American career.
In 1997, Tarkan found his own production company Hitt Müzik and in the same year he released his third studio album Ölürüm Sana, which sold three and a half million copies. Tarkan himself did the songwriting and composition for many of the songs on this album. "Şımarık", "İkimizin Yerine", "Salına Salına Sinsice", "Ölürüm Sana" and "Kır Zincirlerini" were the songs for which music videos were made. "Şımarık" became a hit in many countries; ranking third in France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland; second in Norway; and first in Belgium; it also ranked 26th on Billboard list of Latin Pop Songs. The song was later performed by many other artists. The song "Kır Zincirleri" also made it into Germany, Belgium and France's music charts. A copyright dispute erupted between Tarkan and Aksu over the track "Şımarık", which ultimately blocked the singer's chance to release an English-language version of the song. The music was initially credited as composed by Aksu, Tarkan and Çolakoğlu, but Tarkan later admitted in a 2006 interview that this had been done without Aksu's consent, and that Aksu was the true copyright owner. This dispute ended their successful musical partnership and friendship.
In 1998, Tarkan signed a contract with Universal Music Group. In the same year, his compilation album Tarkan was released in a number of countries including France, Argentina, Russia and the Netherlands, and it also contained his signature songs from his previous albums. Tarkan sold one and a half million copies worldwide earning the singer a platinum certification from Mexico, and gold certifications from Germany, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Colombia and Luxembourg. In 1999, Tarkan, who already had high sales figures around the world, was honored at the World Music Awards as the Best-Selling Turkish Artist. As the first artist of Turkish origin to sell 500,000 albums in France, in an interview for CNN he said: "It feels wild, you know, because in the beginning I never thought it was going to really happen. It's all in Turkish, you know, and nobody understands a word. But I think it's a groove. It's the kisses that are universal."
His entry into the European musical consciousness started a Turkish pop boom in Germany and Turkey in the 1990s, with his European successes signalling that the musical borders between Turkey and Europe, more specifically Germany, were dissolving. Because of his success, he became the prime example of a Turkish pop performer with an audience outside Turkey. His erotic persona was enhanced when the artist posed naked and semi-naked for the most popular Turkish magazines of the period.
2007–15: Metamorfoz and Adımı Kalbine Yaz
On December 23, 2007, Tarkan's sixth studio album Metamorfoz was released. Tarkan wrote all of the songs of this album, and composed seven of them. For the Turkish idioms and proverbs widely used in the lyrics, he was praised by the Turkish Language Association, showing in the association's view a good example to Turkish youth in preserving the culture of the Turkish language. The critical response to Metamorfoz was lukewarm. Most music critics found the album musically lacking in comparison with Tarkan's earlier albums. Ecevit Kılıç, columnist for Sabah newspaper, hailed Tarkan on his return and called him the "Orhan Pamuk of music", saying that Tarkan, just like Nobel award recipient Pamuk, always does everything his own way, despite all the attacks he has received from the press. The album sold 200,000 copies and the songs "Vay Anam Vay", "Pare Pare", "Arada Bir" and "Dilli Düdük" were made into music videos. Tarkan received gold and diamond certifications from MÜ-YAP in 2008 and 2009 respectively. In 2008, the remixed versions of the songs from Metamorfoz were released in two CDs under the title Metamorfoz Remixes. Dutch DJ Tiësto served as the remix album's producer. In the same year, the singer released the song "Uyan", which he prepared to support Doğa Derneği (Nature Society).
In July 2010, Tarkan's seventh studio album Adımı Kalbine Yaz was released and sold 355,000 copies. The song "Sevdanın Son Vuruşu", which was released before the album, won the "Best Song", "Best Composition", and "Best Lyrics" award at the Turkey Music Awards; the album itself was chosen as the Best Album. The songs "Öp", "Acımayacak", "Kayıp" and "Adımı Kalbine Yaz" were turned into music videos, and "Öp" won the "Best Video Clip" award at the Turkey Music Awards.
In 2012, Tarkan recorded the song "Aşk Gitti Bizden" for Ozan Çolakoğlu's debut album 01. In the early months of 2013, he started working on his new album. In June 2013, he was featured on the album "Aysel'in", in tribute to Aysel Gürel, and performed the song "Firuze". In August 2014, he recorded and performed the song "Hop De" for İskender Paydaş's album Zamansız Şarkılar 2. On 22 August 2014, he became the first Turkish singer to perform at the closing concert of Monte Carlo Sporting Summer Festival on its fortieth anniversary.
2016–present: Ahde Vefa and 100
On March 11, 2016, Tarkan's ninth studio album Ahde Vefa was released. It was produced by Hitt Müzik and distributed by DMC. Ahde Vefa is Tarkan's first Classical Turkish album. Within one week of its release, it sold 170,000 copies.
On July 14, 2016, his single "Cuppa" was released. At the 43rd Golden Butterfly Awards, Ahde Vefâ was chosen as the "Best Project" in Turkish Classical Music category. Tarkan released his new album 10 under the label DMC on June 15, 2017. Out of the 14 songs in the album, "Yolla" written by Tarkan and composed by Ozan Çolakoğlu, was released as the lead single and made into music video. The songs "Beni Çok Sev", "Çok Ağladım", "Kedi Gibi", and "O Sevişmeler" were also released with separate music videos. Out of these songs, "Yolla" and "Beni Çok Sev" both topped the official music chart in Turkey.
At the height of his fame in 1999, Tarkan was called up for military service, which had been legally deferred since 1995. The deadline for beginning his service had passed in 1998, but due to contractual obligations abroad after the success of his compilation album he did not return to Turkey to do his military service. The media discussed whether Tarkan should be viewed as a deserter and stripped of his citizenship. Even the Turkish parliament discussed the issue. After the August 1999 earthquake shook Turkey, legislation was enacted that allowed those covered by the law to pay $16,000 for the benefit of the earthquake victims in return for shortening their military service obligation to 28 days. Tarkan returned to Turkey in 2000, took advantage of this law, and completed his service. Of his shortened time in military training, he said: "It was January and snowing like crazy. It was tough; the food was terrible. Eighteen months of my life for nothing? I thought my own dreams were more important."
Relationships and rumours
Tarkan was in a relationship with a French model in the early 1990s, and with a Turkish journalist between 1994 and 1996. Because Tarkan does not like to talk about his personal life, there has been speculation about his sexual orientation in the popular press. Photos stolen from his house in New York in 2001 were portrayed as compromising; they were photos with other men in swimwear at a public nude beach. In one of the pictures he appears to be kissing a man. In an interview with Hürriyet, Tarkan contested the widespread assumption that he was gay. He said that men spread the rumours, because he didn't conform to their image of being a man. One of his ex-girlfriends also denied he was gay. Tarkan later gave fewer and fewer interviews and television appearances, limiting himself to a small number of trusted journalists. In 2006, he said that his relationship with the media had gone wrong.
He was in a relationship with a lawyer, Bilge Öztürk, for seven years until they amicably parted in 2008. He has told the media that he regards the institution of marriage as outdated, stating he would only get married for the benefit of any children he might have. Tarkan owns a ranch-like property in Polonezköy, Istanbul, where he cultivates fruit trees and keeps animals,and owned a flat in Murray Hill, New York City.
On 29 April 2016, Tarkan married his long-time girlfriend, Pınar Dilek. The couple met in 2011 after a concert in Germany. Dilek had been a fan of Tarkan long before they got acquainted. On 12 July 2018, the couple had their first child, a daughter named Lidya.
Tarkan, who had been suffering from sleeping issues and voice disorders due to thyroid nodules, underwent a successful surgery at Maslak Acıbadem Hospital in June 2019.
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