Czech pop singer Karel Gott dies at 80

PRAGUE (AP) — Czech pop singer Karel Gott, who became a star behind the Iron Curtain, has died. He was 80.

Gott died late Tuesday at his home in Prague after battling a long illness, his wife Ivana said in a statement. Gott recently announced he had acute leukemia.

Gott released some 300 albums starting in the 1960s and sold tens of millions of copies in his country, the Soviet Union and elsewhere in the Communist world.

But he was also a rare example of a pop singer from eastern Europe whose music became popular in some Western European countries, especially in West Germany.

"The golden voice from Prague" as Gott was called in that country, had one of the biggest hits there with "Maya the Bee" ("Die Biene Maja" in German), the title song from a 1970s cartoon television series.

Czech President Milos Zeman said Wednesday his death is sad news for the entire country.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis proposed a state funeral for Gott at the St. Vitus Cathedral, the country's biggest church. It was not immediately clear when that might happen.

Babis said he wanted the funeral day to be declared a day of national mourning.