1931 - 1996

“Three things I hate in life: Ria, lies and ungratefulness.”

– Zeki Müren

Zeki Müren was born in Bursa, in northwestern Turkey, on December 6, 1931. His career began in local summer theater and in 1944, he moved to Istanbul to pursue his dream of becoming a singer. In the coming years, he studied decorative arts at the Fine Arts Academy and began working as a singer on Istanbul Radio. His first album was released in 1951 and four years later he released the first of his gold records. Throughout his professional career, Müren would compose more than one hundred songs and make over two hundred recordings. He was a legend in concert, sharing a strong bond with audiences. Müren was one of the first artists to use a catwalk in order to better mingle with the crowd. His fans called him the sun of classical Turkish music, and affectionately referred to him as “Pasha.” Müren was also a force in Turkish cinemas, starring in eighteen highly successful films and writing many of the musical scores. Playing a romantic lead was problematic for the effeminate star, so he was typically cast as the shy type who loved his leading lady from afar. In a nation which took great pride in its macho image, Müren found his niche at the opposite extreme. With oftentimes frosted and precisely coiffed hair, Müren embodied his femininity, wearing ornate rings, sparkling tops, and heavy make-up, especially in his later years. His showy style and flamboyant showmanship beg comparisons to Liberace. Despite his effeminacy, Müren was a highly respected artist, given the freedom to live and perform as he did because of his undeniable talent and his clear contribution to classical Turkish music. In this way, he helped make Turkish society more accepting of gay identity. Müren died of a heart attack during a performance on September 24, 1996. The passing of the 64 year old legend brought a great national outpouring of grief with thousands of Turks attending his funeral.


Gender Male

Sexual Orientation Gay

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity Middle Eastern

Nations Affiliated Türkiye

Era/Epoch Information Age (1970-present)

Field(s) of Contribution






World History

Commemorations & Honors

Google Doodle Commemorating Müren's 87th Birthday (2018)

Zeki Müren's House in Bodrum Turkey Transformed into the Zeki Müren Art Museum With a Full Body Statue Replica at the Entrance (2002)

Zeki Müren Fine Arts Anatolian High School in Bursa Created by TEV and Mehmetçik Foundation (2002)


Original Biography Author
Owen Keehnen
Biography Edited By
Allo Kerstein
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell