Hemeida (left) with Tunisian singer Latifa. Image Credit: Supplied

Cairo: Egyptian pop singer, Ali Hemeida, who soared to renown in the 1980s, has passed away after a battle against illness, his family said.

Hemeida died Thursday in a hospital in his hometown Mersa Matruh in western Egypt due to cancer. He was 55.

Last month, Hemeida was transferred to a state hospital in Cairo. Later, he left for home in Mersa Matruh where his health deteriorated and was transferred to the city’s hospital.

A holder of a doctorate’s degree in Bedouin music, Hemeida was catapulted to fame after he released in 1988 an album titled “Lolaaky” (Had’nt it been for You) that marked a break with the traditional Arabic songs. The album proved a resounding success, hitting record 6,000 sales in Egypt and the Arab world.

Financial issues

With its fast tempo, the song became massively popular, earning Hemeida the nickname the ”star of the Eighties”. A film named after the song was produced in 1993 starring Hemeida. However, his fame did not last for long.The performer disappeared from the public eye due to reasons he later said were beyond his control. Hemeida suffered dire financial straits blamed on accumulated taxes estimated at 13 million Egyptian pounds (Dh3 million).

His death triggered an outpouring of tributes. Egypt’s musicians union mourned with “extreme sadness and grief” his departure.

Mersa Matruh Governor Khalid Shueib mourned Hemeida’s departure, calling him a landmark.

Hemeida will be buried later Friday in his hometown.