Who is Tarkan? Everything about the legendary Turkish star tarkan

Who is Tarkan? Everything about the legendary Turkish star tarkan

Tarkan or Tarkan Tevetoğlu, Turkish singer, composer and songwriter.

(born October 17, 1972, West Germany)

Tarkan is Turkey’s most successful artist of all time, whose albums and singles have sold over 30 million copies since 1992. He has managed to become one of the few singers in Europe, America and Asia to have a hit in the music charts in his own language other than English. Tarkan, who mesmerizes the world with his live stage performance, is the only Turkish singer to be compared to Elvis Presley by the Washington Post, one of the leading newspapers in the US. He is also listed by Rhapsody as an important artist in the history of European pop music.

Early years

Tarkan was born in the town of Alzey in Rhineland Palatine, West Germany, the son of Ali and Neşe Tevetoğlu. The name Tarkan is said to have originated from an ancient Turkish king meaning brave and strong, or from a widely read comic book called Tarkan at the time of his birth. In 2009, it was rumored that Tarkan’s middle name was Hüsamettin, which means sword of faith, but this information could not be confirmed.

His parents were part of a generation of Turkish immigrants from Turkey who came to West Germany for economic reasons. His father’s parents had a decorated military background as war heroes in the Ottoman armies fighting in the Russo-Turkish Wars.

Tarkan has three half-siblings, 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. Although Tarkan grew up in West Germany until the age of 13, his father Ali Tevetoğlu decided to move the family back to Turkey in 1986. His father died of a heart attack in 1995 at the age of 49 and was buried in Rüzgarlı Köy in his hometown of Rize’s İkizdere district. His mother later married Seyhun Kahraman, an architect. Tarkan maintains close ties with family members in Turkey and Germany. He speaks English fluently in addition to Turkish.


Tarkan toppled the charts in both Europe and America with his hit song Şımarık. Composed by Sezen Aksu, Şımarık reached a widespread audience by combining Tarkan’s clear and unique voice with his stage success. Şımarık was covered in English by Stella Soleil under the title Kiss Kiss and then by Holly Valance, who had a number one hit in the UK.

Another successful collaboration between Tarkan and Sezen Aksu was the song Aacayipsin, also known as Şıkıdım. With this song, Tarkan’s fame crossed continents and made him known around the world. The song created a pop explosion in Turkey and Europe. Tarkan was now a pop star with a huge fan base and his albums were sold all over the world.

Yine Sensiz 1992

When the Tevetoğlu family moved to Turkey, Tarkan began studying music in high school in Karamürsel before being accepted to the Üsküdar Music Society in Istanbul. After his family moved to Istanbul in 1988, he began preparing for university entrance exams in 1990, but had a hard time in Istanbul due to lack of money. She worked in low-paid jobs, including as a wedding singer. According to music legend, just as he was preparing to return to Germany, he met Mehmet Söğütoğlu, the owner of Istanbul Plak. Her first album, Yine Sensiz, produced by Söğütoğlu, sold 750,000 copies after its release in December 1992. For the album, she worked with Ozan Çolakoğlu, a little known songwriter-composer at the time.

Acayipsin 1994

The success of Tarkan’s album Yine Sensiz in 1992 was seen by some as a sign of growing admiration for Western music, but the artist’s real success came two years later in May 1994. Tarkan’s highly anticipated second album Aacayipsin, a collaboration between Sezen Aksu, Ümit Sayın, Yıldız Tilbe and Ozan Çolakoğlu, sold more than two million copies in Turkey and 750,000 in Europe. Such high European sales were a first-time success for a Turkish artist.

In 1994, while giving an interview to Savaş Ay on the 1st anniversary of ATV, Tarkan’s statement “I have to pee” was criticized a lot at the time.

Tarkan moved to New York in 1994 to keep himself away from media attention, learn English and complete his education at Baruch College.

Ölürüm Sana, 1997

In July 1997, with Tarkan’s hit song Şımarık, the Turkish promotion of his third studio album Ölürüm Sana began. This album took three years to complete. Tarkan once again collaborated with Sezen Aksu and Ozan Çolakoğlu for the album, which became his highest grossing album and won the Music Industry award for the song Şımarık. Ölürüm Sana sold 4.5 million copies in Turkey alone.

After the release of Şımarık in Europe in 1999, Tarkan signed a protocol with the French branch of PolyGram (now Universal Music) and the album reached number three in Switzerland, Holland, France and Germany. The song also reached number one in Belgium. It was awarded the Golden Disk at the Cannes Midem Music Festival. He became the first Turkish artist to sell 500,000 albums in France.

Following this success, Tarkan released a compilation album titled Tarkan. Due to his fast album sales, he won the World’s Most Album Selling Turkish Artist award at the World Music Awards night in Monaco. He released two more singles in Europe with Universal label: Şıkıdım and Bu Gece.

Tarkan toured Europe and Latin America to promote his music. He appeared in Ukraine, Morocco, Tunisia and Russia and gave eighteen concerts in seventeen European cities. In Latin America, the album gave Tarkan a strong fan base, especially in Mexico and Argentina, where Universal Music financed a promotional tour at the end of 1999.

A copyright dispute arose between Tarkan and Sezen Aksu over the song Şımarık (Spoiled), which ultimately prevented Aksu from releasing an English version of the song. The song was initially claimed to have been composed by Sezen Aksu, Tarkan and Ozan Çolakoğlu, but Tarkan later admitted in a 2006 interview that Sezen Aksu was the true copyright holder. This controversy ended their successful musical partnership and friendship for that period.


In 1999, at the peak of his fame, Tarkan was called up for military service, which had been legally postponed since 1995. The time to start his service had expired in 1998, but after the success of his albums he did not return to Turkey to do his military service due to contractual obligations abroad. The media debated whether Tarkan should be considered a draft dodger and stripped of his citizenship. The issue was even raised in the Turkish Grand National Assembly. After the August 17, 1999 Marmara earthquake, a law was passed that allowed people covered by the law to pay $16,000 for the benefit of earthquake victims in exchange for reducing their military service obligation to 28 days. Tarkan returned to Turkey in 2000 and completed his military service by taking advantage of this law. Before joining the army, he gave a concert in Istanbul to help earthquake victims.

Karma, 2001

In January 2001, Tarkan became the first promotional face of Pepsi in Turkey. This happened before the release of the Karma album and for the first time in Turkey in the same year with two singles, Kuzu Kuzu and Hüp. Karma became the best-selling pop album in Russia, despite not being released worldwide. One million copies of Karma were shipped to other parts of Europe, including Denmark.

In 2001, researcher Dr. N. Aysun Yüksel published a book titled Tarkan – The Star Olgusu, which was removed from the shelves and banned from sale by court order after Tarkan’s lawyer Süheyl Atay sued the author. According to the court ruling, the book published personal information and copyrighted photographs of the artist and damaged his good reputation.

When the music video for the Ferzan Özpetek-directed single Hüp was released, the Turkish Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) considered banning the clip from airing on television because some viewers complained that the scene in which Tarkan kisses actress Sinemis Candemir was too “obscene”. The case was reported in Europe by the BBC. While all this controversy was going on, the music video received the most votes from Turkish viewers and won the Best Video Clip of the Year award at the 2001 Kral TV Video Music Awards ceremony.

After becoming the face of Pepsi in Turkey, Tarkan became the official face of the Turkish National Football Team at the 2002 World Cup. He recorded the soccer song Bir Oluruz Yolunda, which became the anthem of the fans and a music video was made for this song.

Dudu EP, 2003

Tarkan’s Dudu EP was the first album released by his own record label HITT Music in the summer of 2003. It was also the first album of its kind to sell more than one million copies in Turkey. Dudu was awarded the “Song of the Year” award in Russia. Since her successful creative partnership with Sezen Aksu ended, she worked with singer-songwriter Nazan Öncel on both Karma and Dudu. Öncel’s album Yan Yana Fotoğraf Çektirelim was released on the HITT label. In early 2004, he launched his own perfume line called Tarkan.

Come Closer, 2006

After releasing a single called Ayrılık Zor in 2005, Tarkan announced that his English album is finally ready after more than a decade of effort. Plans for an English album began in 1995 when Ahmet Ertegün, the founder of Atlantic Records, encouraged Tarkan to enter the international music market. However, Tarkan’s former manager Ahmet San imposed contractual obligations on Tarkan that prevented further success in Europe. Under Ertegün’s larger deal with Atlantic Records, Tarkan had tied his rights as a performing artist to Jonathan Productions, a French publishing company in which San had a stake. The contract stated that Tarkan could not release his own works without the company’s permission. When Spoiled hit the international scene, Tarkan was virtually prevented from releasing anything, as Charles Ibgui, the director of Jonathan Productions, wrote in a letter to the artist’s then domestic record label Istanbul Plak, “Neither Tarkan nor his producer Mehmet Söğütoğlu can release an album in any language anywhere in the world without our permission.” Thus ended the working relationship between Tarkan and San. Tarkan said that San “destroyed the American dream”. Tarkan’s disagreements with Ertegün over the proposed English album concept also caused delays. Ertegün favored a more American style, while Tarkan insisted on including many Turkish motifs.

On October 10, 2005, Tarkan released his first English single Bounce in Turkey. Come Closer was released in parts of Europe on April 7, 2006 by Universal Music. The album featured songs by songwriters such as Lester Mendez, who co-wrote Shakira’s Underneath Your Clothes, and Brian Kierulf, who produced songs for Britney Spears.

The album did not receive the expected attention. It was only released in a few European countries and Turkey, and Tarkan appeared on various television programs to promote the album in Germany, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania and Russia. The promised world tour included only a few Central and Eastern European countries, Azerbaijan, Russia, Austria and Germany. Its worldwide release was delayed and its domestic sales did not come close to the success of his previous albums, selling only 110,000 in Turkey.

Metamorfoz, 2007

On December 25, 2007, Tarkan released a Turkish album consisting almost entirely of his own works. Seven of the songs on the album, called Metamorfoz, were written by Tarkan himself and the other three were written with his longtime collaborator Ozan Çolakoğlu. The album sold over 300,000 copies in the first two weeks of its release. In early January 2008, Tarkan became the most downloaded artist on TTNetMüzik, a digital music provider where his songs are legally available in a digital format. Of the nearly two million tracks purchased on TTNetMüzik, around 100,000 were Tarkan songs, making him the single highest grossing artist on the music portal.

Despite the interest in the album, reviews of Metamorphosis were lukewarm. Most music critics found the album lacking musically compared to Tarkan’s previous albums. Sabah newspaper columnist Ecevit Kılıç called Tarkan “Orhan Pamuk of music” and said that Tarkan, just like the Nobel laureate Pamuk, did everything his own way despite all the attacks he received. Tarkan received congratulations from the President of the Turkish Language Association for setting a good example for Turkish youth and the preservation of Turkish culture by using the correct language, traditional idioms and proverbs in his lyrics. In addition to the sales success of his album, Tarkan achieved the third highest audience rating with his New Year’s Eve performance on TRT.

Adımı Kalbine Yaz, 2010

Tarkan released his eighth album Adımı Kalbine Yaz on July 29, 2010. The album received very positive reactions from critics and fans around the world. It sold more than 300,000 copies in the first week after its release and the singles of the album reached the top of the music charts in Turkey.

Ahde Vefa, 2016

Tarkan released his first art music album titled Ahde Vefa on March 11, 2016 with Hitt Music label and managed to break a record with over 170 thousand sales in the first week, even at a time when it was claimed that albums were no longer sold.

10, 2017

On July 14, 2016, Tarkan released the single “Cuppa” and on June 15, 2017, he released his 14-song album “10” on DMC Music. Yolla, the title song of the album, instantly became the biggest hit of the year.

Tarkan, who is regarded as the greatest artist of Turkish pop history, has managed to arouse admiration not only in his fans but also in everyone who knows him with his modest life, humble personality and kind heart.

On April 29, 2016, Tarkan married Pınar Dilek and from this marriage a daughter named Liya was born on July 12, 2018.


Yine Sensiz (1992)

Aacayipsin (1994)

Ölürüm Sana (1997)

Karma (2001)

Come Closer (2006)

Metamorfoz (2007)

Adımı Kalbine Yaz (2010)

Ahde Vefa (2016)

10 (2017)

Received awards

-1995 1st Kral TV Video Music Awards - Best Male Pop Music Artist (Aacayipsin)

-1995 1st Kral TV Video Music Awards - 1994 Best Artist of the Year

-1997 25th Golden Butterfly Awards - Best Male Artist in Turkish Pop Music 

-1998 4th Kral TV Video Music Awards - Best Male Pop Music Artist

-1998 4th Kral TV Video Music Awards - Best Selling Album of the Year (Ölürüm Sana)

-1999 US Media Awards - 2nd most influential musician of the century in the world as voted by the US media on the internet (1st place went to Michael Jackson)

-1999 Russia ХИТ Awards - Most Requested Pop Singer in Russia

-1999 Cannes Midem Music Festival - Best Selling Pop Single Album (Spoiled)

-1999 World Music Awards - World's Best Selling Turkish Musician

-1999 Mexico Platinum Record - Best Selling Overseas Album

-1999 Colombian Gold Record - Best Selling Overseas Album

-1999 Germany Gold Record - Best Selling Overseas Album

-1999 Dutch Gold Record - Best Selling Overseas Album

-1999 France Gold Record - Best Selling Overseas Album

-1999 Swedish Gold Record - Best Selling Overseas Album

-1999 Luxembourg Gold Record - Best Selling Overseas Album

-2001 29th Golden Butterfly Awards - Honor Award

-2001 29th Golden Butterfly Awards - Best Turkish Pop Music Male Artist

-2001 29th Golden Butterfly Awards - Best Video Clip (Hüp)

-2001 US Media Awards - Best Advertising Face (Pepsi)

-2002 Russia - Best Selling Foreign Album (Mixed)

-2002 Kral TV Music Awards - Best Selling Single Album of All Time (Kuzu Kuzu)

-2002 Golden Lens Awards - Artist of the Year

-2002 Golden Lens Awards - Album of the Year (Mixed)

-2002 8th Kral TV Video Music Awards - Best Song (Kuzu Kuzu)

-2002 8th Kral TV Video Music Awards - Best Pop Male Artist 

-2002 8th Kral TV Video Music Awards - Best Selling Album (Mixed)

-2004 Russia The Pud Award - Best Song of 2003 (Dudu)

-2004 Russia - Best Selling Foreign Album (Dudu)

-2004 10th Kral TV Video Music Awards - Best Male Pop Music Artist

-2005 MÜ-YAP Music Awards - Best Selling Album of the Year (Ayrılık Zor)

-2006 MÜ-YAP Music Awards - The Best Selling English Album of All Time in Turkey (Come Closer)

-2009 7th MÜ-YAP Music Awards - Best Selling Album of the Year (Metamorphosis)

-2011 14th Istanbul FM Golden Awards - King of Pop Award

-2011 Turkey Nielsen Award - Most Played Artist on Radio

-2011 17th Kral TV Music Awards - Best Song (Sevdanın Son Vuruşu)

-2011 17th Kral TV Music Awards - Best Composition (Sevdanın Son Vuruşu)

-2011 17th Kral TV Music Awards - Best Album (Adımı Kalbine Yaz)

-2011 17th King TV Music Awards - Best Male Artist

-2011 17th King TV Music Awards - Best Clip (Kiss)

-2011 17th Kral TV Music Awards - Best Selling Album (Adımı Kalbine Yaz)

-2011 MÜ-YAP Music Awards - Best Selling Album of the Year (Adımı Kalbine Yaz)

-2011 MÜ-YAP Music Awards - Best Selling Digital Album of the Year (Adımı Kalbine Yaz)

-2011 38th Golden Butterfly Awards - Best Turkish Pop Music Male Artist

-2011 38th Golden Butterfly Awards - Song of the Year (Sevdanın Son Vuruşu)

-2014 2nd Turkey Music Awards - Best Cover (Firuze)

-2016 11th Galatasaray EN Awards - Best Male Singer

-2017 44th Pantene Golden Butterfly Awards - Best Male Soloist in Turkish Pop Music

-2017 44th Pantene Golden Butterfly Awards - Song of the Year (Beni Çok Sev)

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