- Eduard Khil was a popular Soviet-era singer of the '60s and '70s
- Khil found renewed fame decades later online as "Mr. Trololo"
- His words-free performance came after Soviet censors banned a song's lyrics
- The YouTube video became a new version of the Rickroll meme
Eduard Khil, a Soviet-era singing star who found renewed popularity as the viral Web's "Mr. Trololo," died Monday, Russian media reported.
Khil had been in a St. Petersburg, Russia, hospital since suffering a stroke in April. He was 77.
Khil was considered one of the Soviet Union's great performers in the '60s and '70s. But his claim to fame in the rest of the world came in 2009 after a YouTube video posting of him performing the Russian pop song "I Am Glad, 'Cause I'm Finally Returning Back Home."
With a toothy grin, Khil delivers a clearly lip-synced performance minus lyrics, instead using a series of made-up syllables, including the "trololololo" that captured the hearts of millions.
According to New Music Express, the original lyrics, about a cowboy riding his horse home to meet his sweetheart Mary, were censored because they were deemed "un-Soviet." That led to his "mouth music" version, which ends up sounding like a mash-up of yodeling and jazz-era scat singing over a cheesy orchestral arrangement.
Soon, the video was being used online as a new target for the bait-and-switch Rickroll meme in which a user posts a link to something supposedly relevant or interesting but turns out to be a ridiculous or annoying video or image instead.
The original video was viewed more than 12 million times, with alternate versions and parodies racking up millions more.
Khil became aware of the song's viral success after hearing his grandson humming the tune, according to Know Your Meme.
Khil performed it several times afterward, with family members even starting a YouTube channel for him.
On Monday, Khil was remembered on the same social-media sites where his video spread. Several tributes had been voted up to the main page of Reddit, and both his real name and "Mr. Trololo" were trending on Twitter.
"Oh no, Mr. Trololo (i.e. Eduard Khil) has died," Jon Fingas, an editor for tech blog Engadget, wrote on the site. "The world is a sadder place. ... I'm glad the Internet gave him a lasting memory!"