DATELINE - hether you think Yanni's music is soothing or sappy, the man himself is something else entirely: candid, funny, earthy and self-deprecating.
A lot of people know him for his pillowy soft rock, but even more people know him as the Greek dreamboat that actress Linda Evans dumped in 1998.
A person could be excused for expecting him to be evasive on the latter subject. After all, rumor had it that Yanni's response to the breakup was a breakdown.
But Yanni, in a phone interview, declines the reporter's offer of the euphemistic phrase, "period of meditation," to refer to his five-year hiatus from the business.
"It wasn't a period of meditation," he says. "It was a period of pain."
That's all behind him now. Yanni's on tour again and will perform Tuesday at Memorial Coliseum.
But he says there was a point when he thought he'd played his last note.
"I went to my mom and dad's house in Greece. At that point, I was resigned to never coming back. I didn't touch the piano for a whole year."
Yanni, 49, says his romantic misfortunes brought to light an overall exhaustion.
"I hadn't found my limit yet, so I found it by exceeding it. Up to that point, I thought nothing could get to me. I was wrong."
Blame for the split belongs to the impulse that ends more entertainment industry marriages than adultery: Ambition.
Yanni's workaholic ways and constant touring put too great a strain on their relationship.
In his parents' fishing village of Kalamata, Yanni mulled thoughts all people have about their occupations from time to time: Is this all that I am?
"I wondered if I could exist without my career," he says, "or if that was all there was in life for me."
He'd always been predominantly impervious to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, not to mention outraged critics, so he was surprised to find himself falling into the sort of depression that had previously seemed to him the remotest possibility.
But he says he never entertained thoughts of suicide.
"No, I never got to that level. I've always been curious to see what tomorrow would bring. I have always assumed that the future would take care of whatever problem I had."
Yanni's fans sent him letters of support and concern, but he couldn't bring himself to open them.
One day, his sister made him read them.
"They really affected me. I began to cry. It reminded me that my life had meaning," he said.
Yanni says his parents were also an enormous help during this difficult period.
They reacquainted him with an ancient Greek philosophy that - translated into trite English - might read, "Don't sweat the small stuff and it's all small stuff."
Yanni slowly started playing the piano again, and then began composing.
His music returned to the shelves in February 2003 with "Ethnicity," a CD with more voices and world beats than Yanni had ever used before.
And the fans came back in force, their passion apparently undiminished.
With Yanni's commercial fortunes as effulgent as ever, he has pretty much resigned himself to life as a bachelor.
"I'm open to (marriage and family)," he says. "But let me put it this way: I have no regrets. I have thoughts now and again, but they don't last very long.
"Music is a passion for me. It's not a job, it's a love. If my life had taken a certain turn and I'd had a family and children, maybe I wouldn't have been able do what I did in life."
Wow, another great review. Another addition to my YANNI scrapbook. It's interesting how reporters write the stories..Some good, bad, or indifferent. He even got Yanni's age correct. Thanks Steve, at the Journal Gazette
Wow, another great interview. But of course with such an incredible subject and incredible performances, why wouldn't it be great? Whatever direction Yanni's life leads him, I just hope he is always happy and at peace. He knows what is best and hey, if he ever forgets, look at all the friends he has right here to remind him.