He embodied late-Soviet cool before it was overwhelmed by post-Soviet kitsch.
He defined late-Soviet hip before it was overrun by post-Soviet glitz.
He epitomized late-Soviet sincerity before it gave way to post-Soviet cynicism.
And he channeled late-Soviet angst before it morphed into post-Soviet nihilism.
Viktor Tsoi -- who died in an automobile accident 27 years ago this week, at the tragically young age of 28 -- would be in his mid-50s today.
We, of course, never got to see Tsoi in middle age.
Like all iconic figures who die before their time, the trailblazing Soviet rocker remains frozen in our minds: young and wild, iconoclastic and irreverent, clad in black jeans, a T-shirt, and a leather jacket. His wild mane of black hair flopping in the breeze.
A guitar in his hand. A cigarette dangling from his mouth. He always seemed to have a cigarette dangling from his mouth.
Tsoi remains a reminder of a more hopeful time. A time of introspection and anxiety, but also a time of promise.
A time when anything and everything seemed possible.
Tsoi played the last concert of his life on June 24, 1990, at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium before a capacity crowd of 62,000. He closed the concert with his iconic protest anthem Peremen -- or Change.
Less than two months later he was dead.
No, we never got to see Tsoi in middle age.
But we have seen the generation he inspired. And for most of them, the hopes, dreams, and ideals of their youth died not long after Tsoi did.
Some of them are among those running Russia today. Some are among those cheering them on. Some are still holding out hope for that promise of change that was never truly fulfilled.
And Tsoi remains frozen in time, a symbol of a post-Soviet Russia that never was.