Ethio Biography

Ethiopian Online Biography

Alemayehu Eshete


Alemayehu Eshete is an Ethiopian singer nicknamed the Ethiopian Elvis Princely. In the 1960s and 70s Alemayehu stole the hearts of Ethiopian music lovers in his unique modern sounds, arrangement and stage moves. His songs are socially conscious, reflecting the political and social turbulences at the time.

He is known for his superb fashion choices, mainly influence by cow boy style. Many remember him for his long hair style and veil suits.

Alemayehu is considered one of the best singers of the 1960s and 70s, which are considered the golden age of Ethiopian music. His music is still loved by the present generation. Alemayehu still performs in Ethiopia and around the world.

Early life

Alemayehu was born in 1941 in Addis Ababa, known us Italian Sefer near to Piazza. His father owned one the few taxi’s in Addis Ababa and was a driver. When he was only 6 months old, his parents separated his mother took Alemayehu to Dessie. He was raised in Dessie Town until he was three years old.

His father brought Alemayehu back to Addis Ababa for an education.  He joined Christian Training Institute boarding school in Addis Ababa, where he was thought spiritual songs. His teachers at the time recognized Alemayehu’s voice as an exceptional and was considered their top singer in their quire.

When the boarding school decide to close its boys section, to become exclusively girl’s school/ Alemayehu joined Arbegnoch School in Addis Ababa. He was introduced to rock and roll music and fall in love with Elvis Princely and other widely known musicians at the time. He used to perform in different events in his school including for graduations, school party and other shows. Alemayehu admits that his early life is greatly influenced by western life style, music and movies

When he was in high school, he even tried to run away from his family, to go to the United States, believing that he had a shot in Hollywood. He first went to Asmara, Eritrea, and then to Massawa port. However, his effort to leave the country resulted many complications at Massawa port and he ended up in prison in Asmera. He was released and return to Addis Ababa.


Alemayehu started his music career, in the 1950s. His talent was recognized first by Colonel Retta Demeke, a musician in the famous Addis Ababa Police Orchestra. Retta invited Alemayehu to perform with the Orchestra. He played with the orchestra until 1960, and had many of his early hits including Seul. Alemayehu credits the orchestra for teaching him music, and discipline.

Alemayehu then established one of the first private bands in Ethiopia, Solecos Band.  He was a core singer for the band. The band was famous among schools in Addis Ababa, playing in graduations and school day events.

When the Derg Regime came to power, Alemayehu exiled to the United States of America. He started playing to the Ethiopian diaspora in Europe and America. It was then he released his early music on a serious of compilation of Compact Disc with a title of Buda Musique’s Ethiopiques. The 22 volumes of compact disc was entirely dedicated for his early songs with the Police Orchestra and Alem-Girma Band as well as the singles he released on his own in the early 1970s. After the release of the volumes, Alemayehu toured the United States and Europe.

Alemayehu has more than 380 records all together.



Personal Life

Alemayehu currently lives in Addis Ababa Ethiopia with his wife of 50 years. They have seven children together.

5 thoughts on “Alemayehu Eshete

  1. TENAYSTLnN Seble! You wrote well. Still, I think that are some corrections can be made! Here they are!
    1) “Princely” should be replaced with Presley.
    2) “in his unique” should be “with his unique”.
    3) “mainly influence by cow boy style” is better expressed as “especially cowboy style”.
    4) “1960” should be “1968”. “1960” is in Ethiopian Calendar.
    5) “Seul” should be “soul”.
    6)” Solecos” should be “Soul Echoes”
    7) “Derg Regime” should be “Derg”
    8) Serious” should be “series”
    9) ” Was entirely dedicated for” should be “were dedicated entirely to”
    10) “Police Orchestra, Alem Girma Band, as well as the singles . . . ” should be “Police Orchestra, Soul Echoes, Alem Girma Band, and the singles…”
    11) “All together” should be “altogether”.

  2. Selam Seble,

    Could you please check with Mr. Alemayhu Eshete if he remembers meeting the great humanitarian doctor, Abba (Dr.) Teclehaimont Mesgun who visited Addis in the late 60es and early 70es.

    This year is the 100th anniversary of Abba’s birth. Doctors, religious and government leaders in Addis, Europe, Canada and USA are contributing notes or testimonials to be included in the upcoming biography of Abba.

    One of the contributors mentioned Abba may have met and also visited Mr. Eshete at his home and provided some medical assistance.

    Please check this for me and if true pass along my best regards and request to Mr. Alemayhu, if at all possible to send in a short note about his experience with Abba TM.

    Thank you,


  3. Hi Seble,
    Thanks for this excellent Biography – fascinating!
    I am an English music journalist (and `Ethio-Jazz fan) and am writing the Obituary of Alemajehu Eshete for The Guardian newspaper in London – and need to check some facts!
    Some reports suggest he was born in Jima – but is Addis correct?
    Do you know the name of his father, the taxi driver, and that of his mother?
    And do you know the name of his wife?
    Does she, all the seven children, survive him?
    Many thanks!.

  4. Add some information about his children. He 7 children but no knows thier ne, their profession and where.they live. His kids are.part of his life..we need more info on that

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *