The Tragic Life Of The Trololo Man

Lololol la la la, trolololo la ...

No, those aren't the copy-pasted words of a gleefully spastic Reddit reply. They're the actual lyrics to Soviet-born Eduard Anatolyevich Khil's 1976's unintentional meme-inspiring mega-hit, "I Am Very Glad, As I'm Finally Returning Back Home." The video, now commonly referenced as "the Trololo song" — while Khil himself is now the "Trololo man," or "Mr. Trololo" — represents Khil's ingenious trolling of the Russian government, decades before the internet existed. Somehow, the absurd lyrics of 2009's uploaded version of the song synced perfectly with the sound of the word "trolling," and cyber-denizens everywhere propelled the upload to viral stardom.

The Trololo song was originally about an American cowboy who'd finally made his way home, much like Khil himself once returned to his hometown of Smolensk, in Eastern Russia, after it was liberated from the Nazis, per the Telegraph. However, censorship made the song's original lyrics impossible, so Khil changed them to deliberate nonsense, and engaged in one of the history's most obvious, hysterical lip-syncs. Thirty years later, when the video went viral, Khil was able to enjoy renewed success, see his song blaze a trail across the world, and even hear his grandson sing it. As Khil said, "I'm very pleased, but I wasn't surprised because it is really a beautiful tune. I tried to make it cheerful. It's such a radiant song." 

Such a radiant, cheerful song, though, sung by a perpetually smiling person, underscores Khil's often sad, painful childhood.

The Russian RickRoll

Born in 1934, Eduard Khil was quite a successful singer in Russia, as documented on Military. In 1955, he enrolled in what was then called the Leningrad Conservatory, graduating in 1960. He studied music and starting singing opera, starring in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. Eventually, though, he grew to have a love of pop music, and entered numerous competitions. He won a host of awards over the next couple of decades, including second place in 1965's Sopot International Song Festival, and songs he'd written led to composer Andrey Petrov winning the USSR State Prize. Khil even taught at the Saint Petersburg State Theater Arts Academy for several years, and was nationally dubbed the "Symbol of Leningrad."

Before this, though, the early part of Khil's life was truly tragic. Brought up by his mother amidst family difficulties, he survived a bombing on his kindergarten, was separated from his mother, and brought up in a children's home that lacked basic facilities and even food. It was at this point, as a child during World War II, that he started putting on small performances for wounded troops, to cheer them up. When the Nazis were driven from Smolensk in 1943, he returned home. From there, the decision to enroll in Leningrad Conservatory was a truly fateful choice, that set him on a life track that could not have suited him better — one of inspiring joy, and comic relief. 

Khil died in 2012, according to his obituary, at 77.