Vamvakaris has quietly gone about releasing worthy work, at a steady rate, since making his debut as a recording artist in 1977.
Stelios Vamvakaris who, as a youngster, liked to accompany his father to the various haunts where he would perform, began learning bouzouki at the age of seven. He turned professional five years later. By the age of 17, the younger Vamvakaris began performing alongside his father. Around this time, he also began writing his own material.
Besides his father, Stelios Vamvakaris began playing with other leading acts, among them Yiannis Papaioannou, Vassilis Tsitsanis and Stratos Payioumtzis. As a songwriter, Stelios Vamvakaris did not simply approach rebetika as a stagnant form of the past. In search of variation and freshness, he branched out and also worked with figures beyond the rebetika guild. Local rock pioneer Pavlos Sidiropoulos, Cretan music legend Nikos Xylouris and enduring star George Dalaras all scored major hits with material written by Stelios Vamvakaris. He also wrote material for major old-school laiko artists, among them Giorgos Zabetas, Keti Grey, and Vicky Moscholiou.
Stretching it all even further, Stelios Vamvakaris was one of the first musicians to explore the common roots of rebetika and American blues, which, despite the geographic distance, emerged simultaneously and under similar conditions. The musical investigation led to a collaboration with blues giant John Lee Hooker, as well as Louisiana Red. In 2003, Stelios Vamvakaris, a frequent performer abroad, played at the World Got The Blues Festival in London, on a bill that included Taj Mahal and Cesaria Evora.