She was the poet behind the chanteuse, but just because she didn’t perform her pop songs doesn’t mean she was any less of a star. Today, on what would have been Aysel Gürel’s 89th birthday, Google is celebrating the fuchsia-haired lyricist with a doodle.
Gürel was born on Feb. 7, 1929, in Sarayköy, Turkey, a small inland town that was also the birthplace of the “Queen of Turkish Pop,” Sezen Aksu, who popularized many of Gürel’s ballads.
Gürel penned dozens of songs, mostly about love found and lost. From the 1970s through the 2000s Gürel’s discography reigned. Like a Sia for Turkey, she wrote for all the A-listers, including Nilüfer, Tarkan, and Sertab Erener, and her songs were very much in demand. They continue to be popular today, with new renditions still being produced.
When not composing for the divas, Gürel was never far from the limelight herself. She dabbled in acting, appearing in a Turkish commercial for Pepsi, playing Juliet in a performance of “Romeo and Juliet” and snagging bit parts in movies. She was also a Turkologist and an animal rights activist.
Known for her provocative wit, bold feminism and preference for scandalously younger men, Gürel made her mark as lovable eccentric. She was immediately recognizable by her oversized, red glasses, pink wigs and lurid outfits.
Google’s doodle captures Gürel in all her pink exuberance, noting that “her joy is hard to contain on the screen.”
After a battle with lung cancer, Gürel died on Feb. 17, 2008 in Istanbul.
In memory of what would have been her 89th birthday, here’s one of Gürel’s may legendary hits: