Popular music in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

Popular music in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

SFR Yugoslav pop and rock scene includes the pop and rock music of SFR Yugoslavia (a state that existed until 1991) incl. all their genres and subgenres. The scene included the constituent republics: SR Slovenia, SR Croatia, SR Bosnia and Herzegovina, SR Montenegro, SR Macedonia and SR Serbia and its subunits: SAP Vojvodina and SAP Kosovo. The pop and rock scene was a part of the general Music of Yugoslavia, which also included folk, classical music, jazz etc. Within Yugoslavia and internationally, the phrase "ex Yugoslav Pop and Rock" both formally and informally always refers to the SFRY period only, not including Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1992-2003).


The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was not an Eastern Bloc country, but a member of the Non-Aligned Movement and as such, it was far more opened to western influences comparing to the other socialist states (the West to some extent even supported Yugoslavia as a "buffer zone" to the Warsaw Pact). The western-influenced pop and rock music was socially accepted, the Yugoslav pop and rock music scene was well developed and covered in the media, which included numerous magazines, radio and TV shows. Numerous artists even played for president Tito himself, notably Bijelo dugme, Zdravko Čolić and Đorđe Balašević. SFR Yugoslavia was the only communist country that was taking part in the Eurovision Song Contest. It joined in 1961 even before some Western and NATO nations such as: Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Turkey, which joined in 1964, 1965, 1974 and 1975 respectively.


One of the first stars in the former Socialist Yugoslavia and one of its first internationally acclaimed artists, was the traditional pop singer Ivo Robić from Croatia, who emerged in the Yugoslav music scene in the late 1940s. Later, he went abroad, where he made a successful international career. He was the original performer of the famous "Strangers in the Night" song by Bert Kaempfert, predating Frank Sinatra who recorded his version later in 1966.

Robić closely cooperated with Kaempfert throughout most of his career. In the early 1960s, after seeing a promising young act from England performing at the Top Ten Club in Hamburg, Robić convinced Kaempfert, who was Polydor's agent, to help those youngsters in their career. Kaempfert accepted and thanks to him the group was hired to record together with the then popular Tony Sheridan. The young group was The Beatles. Those were their first commercial recordings ever, including "My Bonnie", "Ain't She Sweet" and "Cry for a Shadow". That album was released in numerous versions such as "In the Beginning (Circa 1960)", "The Beatles' First" and "Beatles Bop - Hamburg Days".


The rock scene in Yugoslavia started to emerge in the 1950s influenced by the classical rocknroll and rockabilly acts such as Elvis Presley, Bill Haley, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Little Richard, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly and others, but also by the musical movies coming from the West. Many young people started to play this new "electric music", as they called it, naming themselves "električari", but one of the first who rose to prominence was the guitarist Mile Lojpur from Belgrade (born in Zrenjanin in 1930). He was tributed by many musicians later, notably by Nikola Čuturilo. Other eminent act that started in the 1950s rocknroll scene was Karlo Metikoš from Zagreb, who after moving to Paris started an international career under the pseudonym Matt Collins. He recorded for Philips Records and had an opportunity to meet legends such as Jerry Lee Lewis and Paul Anka. Many young people started to adopt classic rocknroll hairstyles and fashions such as leather jackets, motorcycles etc. inspired by Marlon Brando's The Wild One, James Dean's Rebel without a cause and similar movies. Unlike the citizens of other socialist states, Yugoslavs were free to travel, without need for a visa for most countries around the world (in other countries, one did not need a visa to travel within Communist countries, but a visa was essential for non-aligned countries, including Yugoslavia and the West). Lots of the clothing use to be purchased in Trieste, in the neighbouring Italy, which was a usual destination for shopping tours, also involving numerous smugglers who were avoiding customs and were bringing loads of western fashion and music across the border.

Notable singer was Đorđe Marjanović, especially his megahit "Zvižduk u osam" ("Whistle at Eight") released in 1958.


The beginning of the 1960s saw the emergence of numerous bands, many of them initially inspired by the then-popular Cliff Richard and The Shadows: Bijele strijele and Siluete, formed in 1961; the Zagreb based Crveni Koralji and Belgrade's Zlatni dečaci in 1962; in 1963 another important band was formed, Crni biseri from Belgrade, featuring Vlada Janković-Džet, a prominent Yugoslav musician, who got his nickname after Jet Harris. The Zagreb based Delfini were also formed the same year. After the British invasion, many of these bands later moved on to British rhythm and blues.

The 1960s also saw the expansion of Beatlemania. Many new bands formed influenced by The Beatles or by the Rolling Stones, both of whom had large fanbases in SFR Yugoslavia. There were frequent arguments between the fans of both groups, though not necessarily violent. One of the important source of information for the youths to stay up-to-date with the rock music developments around the world was Radio Luxembourg. Certain British 1960s beat music artists played concerts across the country and also Yugoslav artists played gigs around Europe especially neighbouring Italy and Austria. On the border with Italy, several Yugoslav-Italian "Beat" festivals took place.‎In Skopje, a popular 1960s rock'n'roll group was formed named Bisbez who were considered "The Macedonian Beatles". They were formed by merging two already existing bands Biseri (pearls) and Bezimeni ( no names).

In the mid-1960s many bands such as Džentlmeni, Roboti and the reformed Siluete were influenced by the rhythm and blues artists, while others were more pop oriented. Mod oriented bands also emerged. The most popular bands among the youths were The Animals, The Byrds, The Monkees The Kinks, The Who, Manfred Mann and others. The Garage Rock sound (also labeled as "1960s Punk") was also popular. The charismatic frontman of Siluete, Zoran Miščević, became an idol of the new generation and a sex symbol. The band had a bad reputation for causing scandals and riots at their concerts. Their main rivals were the group Elipse, which after getting a new vocalist, the African student from Congo Edi Dekeng, went on to play soul music.

The prominent Croatian singer Tereza Kesovija represented Monaco at the Eurovision Song Contest 1966.

One of the most eminent and influential former Yugoslav group formed in the 1960s was Indexi. They were formed in Sarajevo in 1962. In their early beginnings they were notably influenced by The Shadows and later by The Beatles. Along with the numerous evergreen songs they wrote feat. Davorin Popović's trademark nasal voice, they also covered the famous Beatles song Nowhere Man. In some of their songs they also experimented with the sound in a similar way to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Indexi gradually moved to a more psychedelic sound, with more complex guitar and keyboard solos adding occasional folk and even classical music elements. One of the band's notable members Kornelije Kovač later became one of the most important musicians in former Yugoslavia ever. After leaving Indeksi he formed another legendary band, Korni grupa, in Belgrade in 1968.

As the end of the 1960s was approaching, the Hippie movement expanded around the world as well as in SFR Yugoslavia. Notable group was the Croatian based "Grupa 220", which during a certain period featured Piko Stančić. Later he rose to one of the most important musicians, producers and arrangers in the whole former Yugoslav scene.

Under influences such as Bob Dylan for example, many young people embraced the acoustic sound and thus were called "akustičari" contrary to "električari". Prominent acoustic artist was Ivica Percl, formerly of Roboti. He was an acoustic musician and peace activist playing guitar and harmonica influenced by Bob Dylan and Donovan.1968 was marked by youth protests and demonstrations around the world including massive student demonstrations in SFR Yugoslavia, notably in Belgrade.

Another popular act at the time was the group Ambasadori. One of the members of both Ambasadori and Korni Grupa was Zdravko Čolić, who went solo later and was acclaimed as the biggest pop star in the former Yugoslavia ever. The most notable female vocalist was Josipa Lisac who still enjoys huge popularity across the former SFR Yugoslavia. Boba Stefanović was one of the most prominent Yugoslav male solo vocalists. He was acclaimed even by his own idol Tom Jones, who met him after his concert in Cannes, France.

The Hippie era was marked by the famous musical "Hair". Numerous subsequent productions were staged around the world since its American debut in 1967, for example in Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Brazil, Argentina, Israel and Japan. The Yugoslav production was the first staged in a communist state, and it was highly praised by the "Hair"'s original authors Gerome Ragni and James Rado, who were travelling from one country to another to watch each of the performances. As Ragni said, they found the Belgrade show "so beautiful, so spontaneous that we had to go right on the stage to share their enthusiasm". While being in Belgrade he also added "There exist no middle-class prejudices here". [http://www.michaelbutler.com/hair/holding/articles/HairArticles/Newsweek7-7-69.html]


Many pop music festivals existed across SFR Yugoslavia including the Split Festival, Opatija Festival, Beogradsko proleće in Belgrade, Skopje Fest, Vaš šlager sezone in Sarajevo, and later also Makfest in Štip was established. The family-friendly pop music played at those festivals was comparable to older Eurovision Song Contests, the German schlager genre, the Italian Sanremo Music Festival or the adult oriented pop music category. The specific Dalmatian pop sound featuring local folk elements performed at festivals held along the touristy Adriatic coast was very popular and some of its most notable exponents were Oliver Dragojević and Mišo Kovač.


The 1970s were marked by rock genres such as hard rock, progressive rock, jazz rock, art rock, glam rock, folk rock and symphonic rock. In that period, some of the greatest Yugoslav stadium rock bands emerged: YU grupa, Time, Smak, Atomsko Sklonište, and Leb i sol from Skopje with their trademark sound which was a blend of Macedonian folkore, jazz fusion and rock.

In 1974 one of greatest bands ever formed in SFR Yugoslavia came to prominence, the Sarajevo based Bijelo Dugme with its first charismatic frontman Željko Bebek.

Many foreign pop and rock stars visited Yugoslavia, including the Deep Purple concerts in Zagreb and Belgrade in 1975 with the local support acts "Hobo" and Smak in each of the cities respectively, and the Rolling Stones concert in Zagreb in 1976.

1975 saw the emergence of a very influential act, Buldožer from Slovenia. Because of their unique experimental, alternative and avantguarde style which was a reaction pointed against the rock scene of the time, many consider them as a former Yugoslav "Proto-New Wave" band.

Beside Leb i Sol, another important act in Skopje, particularly in the late 1970s, was the band called Leva patika (Left sport-shoe). When President Tito had his left leg amputated in Ljubljana hospital due to health complications before his death, the word "left" had to be removed from the band's name. Thus they are also known as "Patika". Their huge dance hit was the song "Nepravda".

Several rock music festivals existed of which "BOOM" was one of the most popular.

A rock music event that marked the decade, but also the Yugoslav rock history in general, was the Bijelo dugme's concert at Hajdučka česma in Košutnjak Park in Belgrade on August 22, 1977, which was attended by around 80,000 people. The recorded material was released on the live album "Koncert kod Hajdučke česme".


The Yugoslav scene also featured several notable singers-songwriters, who emphasized their poetry over music, and usually performed accompanying themselves by an acoustic guitar or piano. Some of them were inspired by the French chanson or folk rock. One of the first critically acclaimed singers-songwriters was the Croatian artist Arsen Dedić who started his career in the 1960s and is still popular in his homeland and around the former Yugoslav countries, especially among the older generation. Another important author was also Đorđe Balašević from Novi Sad, Vojvodina. He started his music career in the 1970s as a member of various groups including "Rani mraz", before beginning a very successful solo-career that lasts even today. Despite being into acoustic rock initially, later he often used various elements of pop and rock often spiced up either with typical Vojvodinian humour or a balad type of melancholy. A notable female artist in this category was Jadranka Stojaković from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. She was an author of the main music theme for the 1984 Winter Olympics held in Sarajevo. Since 1988, she resides in Japan. An artist notable for socially engaged lyrics was Marko Brecelj, formerly a member of Buldožer.


The Disco craze spread around the world in the 1970s conquering Yugoslavia as well. Similarly to the disco movie "Saturday Night Fever", Zdravko Čolić became a sort of "Yugoslav John Travolta" dancing in stadiums across the country, dressed in a tight white suit and the then-fashionable bell-bottoms. At the legendary concert at the Belgrade stadium "Marakana" on September 5, 1978, about 70.000 people gathered to see him. The concert was also attended by representatives of a West German record label. Impressed by Čolić's popularity they offered him a record contract. He released the songs "Jedina" and "Zagrli me" for the Western German market and also an English language single feat. the songs "I'm not a Robot Man" and "Light me". Čolić was offered to move to West Germany and start a career there, but he refused favouring the popularity he had at home. His song about a relationship with a girl "Pusti, Pusti modu" (can be translated as: Forget about fashion!) became a nationwide disco megahit in 1980. Despite that the disco fashion soon faded, Čolić continued his successful career as a pop music singer occasionally using folk music elements and remained popular in the former Yugoslav countries up to this day.

This era also brought in a one-hit wonder called Mirzino Jato, labeled by the media as kitschy euro disco band obviously influenced by Boney M., who were quite popular in Yugoslavia especialsy after their only male member Bobby Farrell married a girl from Skopje's predominantly Roma inhabited municipality Šuto Orizari. [http://www.bhdani.com/arhiva/170/citanka170.htm] Mirzino Jato's style encompassed the deep, subwoofer shaking voice of Sarajevo opera and classical choir singer Mirza Alijagić, the three sexy back vocalists called "Jato" (meaning a flock) and deadly seriousness. Music was written and produced by Sead Lipovača, while the author of most lyrics was Marina Tucaković, who later became famous writting lyrics for other musical styles. Despite their huge popularity at the time, Mirzino Jato never got past the first album. Its only considerable hit was "Absolutno tvoj" ("Absolutely Yours").

One of the best known dance songs in this period was also the Dado Topić's opening track of the 1979 film "" starring Dragan Nikolić as Floyd, the fanatic car racer.

Hard rock and heavy metal

The hard rock and the heavy metal scene during the 1970s and the 1980s featured acts such as: the hard rock group Riblja Čorba, one of the most important groups of the Yugoslav and Serbian rock scene in general, the eminent heavy metal group Divlje Jagode from Bosnia and Herzegovina, which later started an international career under the name "Wild Strawberries"; Gordi, Generacija 5, Kerber and Griva from Serbia; Osmi Putnik and Crna Udovica from Croatia; Pomoranča from Slovenia; Concorde from Macedonia and others. Another notable Bosnian hard rock group was Vatreni Poljubac led by the charismatic Milić Vukašinović, formerly a member of Bijelo Dugme. Yugoslav glam metal scene featured Karizma, Osvajači and others. The former frontman of Teška industrija, Sead Memić-Vajta started a successful solo career as a pop singer. He represented SFR Yugoslavia in the Eurovision Song Contest 1981.

Punk rock

The Yugoslav punk rock scene emerged in the late 1970s, influenced by the first wave of punk rock bands from the United Kingdom and United States, such as Sex Pistols and The Clash and others, but also the proto-punk bands such as The Stooges and New York Dolls. The DIY punkzine scene also started to develop. The Yugoslav punk bands were the first punk bands ever formed in a socialist state. Some of the first ones were formed in SR Slovenia and SR Croatia: Pankrti from Ljubljana (formed in 1977) and Paraf from Rijeka (depending on the source, formed in 1976 or 1977). The Slovenian and Croatian scene of that period is featured in the compilation album "Novi Punk Val", compiled by Igor Vidmar. Certain bands which later rose to mainstream popularity such as Prljavo Kazalište and Električni orgazam were also punk rock in their early beginnings. Late 1970s-early 1980s Belgrade scene included: Urbana gerila, Radnička kontrola and many others. This generation of bands was included on the "Artistička Radna Akcija" compilation. From Novi Sad, used to be the cult band Pekinška patka. Some of the notable punk bands in SR Macedonia included: Fol Jazik, arguably the first punk band in Skopje, formed in 1978; Afektiven naboj from Struga formed in 1979 feat. Goran Trajkoski; Other notable acts from Skopje included Badmingtons and Saraceni, both led by Vladimir Petrovski Karter. In Sarajevo, SR Bosnia and Herzegovina, the following artists emerged: Ozbiljno pitanje (which later evolved into the pop-rock star band Crvena Jabuka), Ševa (which later evolved into Bombaj Štampa led by the charismatic Branko Đurić), and the cult band Zabranjeno Pušenje. These Sarajevian bands later formed the punk-inspired New Primitives movement, an important phenomenon in the former Yugoslav culture.

In the late 1970s, some punk bands were affiliated with the New Wave music scene, and were labeled as both punk rock and new wave. During a certain period, the term "New Wave music" was interchangeable with "punk".

The end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s saw the emergence of various subgenres of punk rock, such as streetpunk and Oi!. Later came hardcore punk, followed by various extreme styles such as crust punk, crossover thrash all the way to grindcore. Notable hardcore punk acts during the 1980s included: Niet, Patareni, KUD Idijoti, KBO! and others. A notable mainstream pop punk band was Psihomodo Pop from Croatia (heavily influenced by The Ramones). Many eminent foreign punk bands played concerts around former Yugoslavia including: The Ruts, Siouxsie & the Banshees, UK Subs, Angelic Upstarts, The Exploited and The Anti-Nowhere League. In 1983 The Anti-Nowhere League released their album Live in Yugoslavia, while Angelic Upstarts released a live album with the same title in 1985. Beside musicians, the Yugoslav punk subculture also included punk writers and artists, with Ivan Glišić from Šabac being one of the notable ones.

New Wave music

The New Wave music scene emerged in the late 1970s and had a significant impact on the Yugoslav culture. As its counterparts- The British and the US New Wave music scenes, from which the main influences came from, the Yugoslav New Wave scene was also closely related to Punk rock, Ska, Reggae, Two Tone, Power pop, Mod Revival etc. The New Wave was especially advocated by the music magazines "Polet" from Zagreb and Džuboks from Belgrade, and by the TV show Rokenroler, which was famous for its artistic music videos.

Important bands of the Yugoslav New wave are: Šarlo Akrobata, Idoli, EKV , Prljavo Kazalište, Azra, Električni orgazam, Haustor, Film, Laboratorija zvuka, Lačni Franz and many others. This period in the former Yugoslav music is considered a "Golden age". All of these artists still have status of cult bands.

Symbols of the Yugoslav New Wave era are the compilation albums Paket aranžman, Novi Punk Val, Artistička Radna Akcija and especially the movie Dečko koji obećava starring Aleksandar Berček also featuring appearances by members of Šarlo Akrobata and Idoli.

An important rockumentary covering this period is Sretno dijete.


As the New Wave perished in the beginning of the 1980s, some of the bands split or took different musical directions. The period around 1982 is considered especially crucial concerning the decline of the New Wave in Yugoslavia, but also around the world. Many new important bands formed in 1982 after the New Wave faded: Dušan Kojić-Koja, the former bass player of Šarlo Akrobata formed the legendary group Disciplina kičme (a unique noisy mix of punk rock, funk, jazz fusion and many other styles). The band later rose to international prominence and appeared on MTV. Zoran Kostić-Cane, the former vocalist of Radnička kontrola, formed the furious garage punk group Partibrejkers and achieved huge success. Idoli, Prljavo Kazalište and Film (the latter under the moniker "Jura Stublić i Film") became pop or pop-rock and all of them respectively achieved great mainstream success; The cult band Azra gradually moved on to a more conventional rock sound with occasional use of folk rock. Johnny Štulić's poetic trademarks were still notable throughout their lyrics. Električni orgazam went through a psychedelic phase and later became a successful mainstream rock band inspired mostly by the 1960s sound.

One of the most prominent mainstream dance pop acts during the decade, especially in the early 1980s, was Oliver Mandić. He used transvestite elements in his stage and video performances long before Boy George emerged. His music utilized lots of funk dance music. The national Radio-Television Belgrade filmed the famous TV show featuring a collection of his music videos called "Beograd noću" ("Belgrade by Night") directed by Stanko Crnobrnja. The ambitiously avantgarde program won Rose d'Or award at the 1981 Montreux TV festival. Mandić's controversial image in the show, created by the conceptual artist Kosta Bunuševac, raised quite a public furor due to the singer's cross-dressing and aggressive makeup. It was noted at the time that a viewer from Zemun smashed his TV set at the sight of Mandić in high heels and tight mini-skirt.

1983 was marked by Danijel Popović, the Yugoslav performer at the Eurovision Song Contest in Munich. He instantly became a nationwide pop star, but was also acclaimed around Europe. Certain artists from West Germany as well as other countries released cover versions of his song Džuli. Other popular pop acts during the 1980s were Novi Fosili and the Split based group Magazin. In 1984 at the national pre-selection for the Eurovision Song Contest (Jugovizija) in Skopje, the frontman of Time, Dado Topić, performed a duet with the charismatic Slađana Milošević, known for her hit "Miki" and her extravagant style similar to that of Nina Hagen. Although their song "Negde izvan Planeta" (known as "Princeza") didn't make it to the Eurovision (Vlado Kalember and Izolda Barudžija won), the song became a Yugoslav hit and it is still an evergreen pop ballad. A notable music producer, composer and musician often involved in the Eurovision Song Contest during the 1980s was Zrinko Tutić. Popular female solo singers were Jasna Zlokić, Maja Odžaklievska and Doris Dragović.

A former member of the hard rock cult band Riblja Čorba and the obscure New Wave group "Frka", Momčilo Bajagić-Bajaga formed one of the most popular ex-Yugoslav acts ever: Bajaga i Instruktori. Their first album "Pozitivna Geografija" which featured certain new wave and punk rock traces rose to nationwide popularity, but their second album Sa druge strane jastuka is considered one of the most important records of the former Yugoslav pop and rock music ever. Later, one of the members of Instruktori left the band and started a successful solo career. That was Dejan Cukić.

Notable artist from the Albanian minority was Zana Nimani the popular frontress of the band Zana from Belgrade.

The most popular TV show was Hit meseca (Hit of the month) which was a sort of Yugoslav Top of the Pops. The host of the show was Dubravka "Duca" Marković. A popular magazine among the youths was ITD, which also had a version called Super ITD in a bigger format. The most prominent rock music magazine was "Rock".

Musical genres such as Post-punk, Gothic rock, Darkwave, New Romantic and Synthpop were already expanded across the globe as well as in SFR Yugoslavia during the early 1980s:


The former punks Pekinška Patka moved to post-punk and darkwave on their second, less acclaimed album "Strah od monotonije" released in 1981 and soon disbanded. Another legendary band, Paraf, moved from their initial punk rock phase and released their psychedelic album "Izleti" in 1982 with elements of post-punk and gothic rock. Električni Orgazam had a notable psychedelic phase, during which, they released their album "Lišće pokriva Lisabon" in 1982.

Milan Mladenović, formerly a guitarist of Šarlo Akrobata, in that same 1982 formed the cult band Ekatarina Velika, initially named "Katarina II". The band is remembered for its darker poetic post-punk sound and its intellectual attitude. Some of its members included the bass guitar player Bojan Pečar, formerly a member of Via Talas and the drummer Srđan Todorović, who later rose to internationally acclaimed film actor. Margita Stefanović-Magi, the keyboard player, and Milan, the frontman both rose to a status of "alternative celebrities". Later, both died.

New Romantic

During the New Romantic era popularized around the world by Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet, one of the most prominent acts in Yugoslavia was the Zagreb based BOA, formed in 1979. Another notable band often associated with this genre was the and extravagant Dorian Gray, also from Zagreb, formed in 1982. Both of these groups initialy started as art rock groups affiliating themselfes later with the then-popular New Romantic sound and fashion. After gaining nationwide prominence throughout the 1980s, in 1990, BOA performed as an opening act of the David Bowie's concert at the Maksimir stadium in Zagreb in front of over 50000 people. Dorian Gray, named after the Oscar Wilde's fictional character Dorian Gray, influenced by artists such as David Sylvian's Japan, Bryan Ferry's Roxy Music and some of David Bowie's works, was led by Massimo Savić, who later became a successful solo pop music artist after the group disbanded in 1986. The group released the hits "Sjaj u tami" and "Samo za tvoje oči", the former being a cover version of the famous song "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Anymore)". Certain works of the famous Belgrade group U škripcu also fall into this category. Another group from the same city during this period was Jakarta (sometimes mentioned under the Serbian pronunciation as "Džakarta").


Notable synthpop artists in the former Yugoslavia included: Beograd, a group formed in 1981, named after their hometown Belgrade; Videosex from Ljubljana, Slovenia, led by their charismatic frontress Anja Rupel; the legendary duo Denis i Denis from Croatia featuring the sex-symbol Marina Perazić, who later started a solo career, and her boyfriend Davor Tolja; the humorous bunch Laki Pingvini ("Easy penguins") and a similar act named D' Boys (pronounced as "The Boys") led by Peđa D' Boy, formerly a vocalist of the West German rock band Jane and a skilled tailor who made a male leather thongs for the prominent musician Goran Bregović. In Macedonia, a notable synthesizer-led act was the less poppier and more artistic oriented group Bastion which featured the now eminent electronic musician Kiril Džajkovski on electronic keyboards. Many Yugoslav artists in this period were already experimenting with the use of personal computers in creating of their music. The cover of the single "Neka ti se dese prave stvari" / "Ne zovi to ljubavlju" by the Belgrade based group "Data" featured the then popular Commodore 64.

New Primitives

The New Primitivism was an urban subcultural movement in Sarajevo in the early 1980s. Some of projects that came from the New Primitives were the band Zabranjeno pušenje, the "Top lista nadrealista" TV and radio show, the legendary group Elvis J. Kurtović & His Meteors, Bombaj Štampa and others. Its creators include Elvis J. Kurtović, dr. Nele Karajlić, mr. Sejo Sexon, Branko Đurić — Đuro, Boris Šiber, Zenit Đozić from Sarajevo neighbourhood of Koševo. The famous film director Emir Kusturica was an associate and friend of the crew.

The fresh spirit that the group left in the urban Bosnian culture and a quite new way of expression, flooding directly from street subculture, attracted significant popularity and made it one of monuments of modern Bosnian culture.

The discourse of New Primitivism was primarily humorous, based on the spirit of Bosnian ordinary people from the cultural underground. They introduced the jargon, rich in Turcisms, of Sarajevo "mahalas" (suburban neighborhoods) into the official musical and TV scene. Most of their songs and sketches involve stories about small people -- coalmine workers, petty criminals, provincial girls etc. -- put in unusual or even absurd situations. There are comparisons between "Monty Python's Flying Circus" show and New Primitives methods, as they share the form of short sketches and utilize absurdity as means to illicit laughs from the audience.

The name of the movement arguably came as a reaction to two then-actual movements: New Romantic in global pop music and Slovenian Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK).

Band Aid

In the late 1984 Bob Geldof and Midge Ure organized the famous famine relief campaign named Band Aid, which continued throughout 1985 until its finale - the historical Live Aid concert on 13 July 1985. The concert was broadcasted worldwide including SFR Yugoslavia. Beside Do They Know it's Christmas? and USA for Africa projects from the UK and USA respectively, plenty of other countries also joined in. For example: Canada, West Germany (feat. Nena among the others), then Austria, Norway etc. The SFR Yugoslav pop and rock elite also joined Geldof's campaign and formed a Yugoslav Band Aid under the name YU Rock Misija. The group included Momčilo Bajagić, Marina Perazić, Aki Rahimovski from Parni Valjak, Massimo Savić, Željko Bebek, Slađana Milošević, Oliver Mandić, Peđa D' Boy and many other eminent musicians. They recorded the Yugoslav Band Aid song "Za Milion godina" (For a Milion Years) which was released as a single. The guitar solo in the song is played by Vlatko Stefanovski. Also a corresponding video was filmed. A prominent artist who openly refused to take part in the Yugoslav band Aid was Bora Đorđević. At he end of the campaign, the Yugoslav musicians played a big 8 hour stadium concert on June 15, 1985 in Belgrade. The video for "Za Milion godina" was played on many TV stations worldwide and also, on July 13 at the Wembley Stadium on large video screens during a video interlude. It is included, though not completely, in the "Overseas contributors" section in the official "Live Aid DVD" that was released in the 2004 by Warner Music Group.

:* [http://youtube.com/watch?v=30ZY2aQu4Vc The Yugoslav message to Live Aid and "YU Rock Misija" Video incl. subtitles]

arajevo school of Pop Rock

The Sarajevian scene featured some of the SFR Yugoslavia's most popular acts. These bands espoused various musical styles. While the older generation of the "Sarajevo school" was into hard rock and heavy metal, the younger one was initially influenced by punk rock and the new wave, later transforming to a successful mainstream pop acts. Typical Sarajevo acts include: Bijelo Dugme; Divlje Jagode; Plavi Orkestar, Crvena Jabuka, Valentino, Merlin, Hari Mata Hari led by Hari Varešanović and others. The "Sarajevo school" artists were distinguishable by their frequent use of Bosnian folk elements.

Macedonian scene 1981-1986

Notable acts of the Macedonian scene in the first half of the 1980s included bands with various styles ranging from conventional rock, new wave, hard rock, heavy metal, new romantic, synthpop, funk and so on.

Notable acts were: Penicilin, Triangl, the notable hard'n'heavy bands Concorde and Karamela, the ska group Cilindar feat. Risto Samardžiev, later a frontman of Haos in Laos, and currently a prominent pop singer; Bon-ton were New Romantics, later straight pop feat. the prominent solo singer Dario Pankovski; the group Tost Sendvič featured Vlado Janevski who later represented Macedonia in the Eurovision Song Contest 1998; Algoritam were a synthpop duo which resembled Ultravox; Usta na Usta featured the eminent intellectual, writer and publicist Aleksandar Prokopiev, who previously also played with the Belgrade's Idoli, while the band Psiho included Vera Janković and Janko Ilkovski, who later both became successful TV celebrities each in his/her own right.

One of the most important acts from Skopje ever, was the electronic music group Bastion featuring the internationally prominent musician Kiril Džajkovski. He composed the music for Milčo Mančevski's 2001 film "Dust".

Badmingtons was a notable punk rock band. Later it transformed into a more mainstream group called Aleksandar Makedonski (Alexander The Great).

Other prominent artists were: the band Tokmu taka which featured Ljupčo "Bubo" Karov from Kavadarci on vocals. Later he achieved great popularity in Macedonia as a member of the TV comedy trio K-15. The band's big hit was the ska/reggae driven song called Džentlmen (Gentleman).

One of the most successful groups formed in this period was Memorija, founded in 1984.


The Yugoslav scene also included numerous Neo-Rockabilly, Psychobilly and retro-rocknroll acts. A noted artists (rather for his controversial behaviour than music) was Velibor Miljković Bora, better known as Tonny Montano, nicknamed after the fictional character Tony Montana. He was a former vocalist of the punk rock group Radost Evrope, ironically named after the famous international children's music festival "Joy of Europe" held annually in Belgrade. Tonny often stirred controversy in his interviews and frequently attacked other musicians, like Ekaterina Velika and such, whom he considered pseudointellectuals who alienated themselves from the "street", where, according to him, the real rock music should emerge from. He arrogantly proclaimed himself a "real rock star" whose time is yet to come. However he never really managed to achieve the success of his adversaries, who never bothered much with him anyway. His albums often included cover versions of famous punk rock tracks, such as the Sex Pistols' "Friggin' in the Riggin'" (re-worked in Serbian as "Frigidna je bila" meaning "She was frigid") and "Lonely Boy" (as "Ja neću biti tvoj" meaning "I will not be yours"). Espousing an old school macho rocker attitude, Tonny's songs often featured sexist lyrics. On the other hand, the group Đavoli ("Devils") from Split led by Nenad "Neno" Belan were a softer retro-rocknroll act, they released several summer hits and also twist or surf music influenced tracks. Some of its members also had punk rock background as they were into The Ramones or The Clash previously. The rockabilly group Fantomi ("Phantoms") was another act in Croatia, while in Serbia the group called Vampiri ("Vampires") emerged with their trademark doo-wop style of singing and performed as a support act of the internationally acclaimed retro jazzy pop group Vaya Con Dios at their concert in Belgrade.

Neue Slowenische Kunst

In Slovenia, the cult avant-garde band Laibach emerged in 1980. Experimenting with various styles such as industrial, martial and neo-classical music they rose to international prominence and influenced acts such as the famous group Rammstein for instance. They appeared on MTV with their cover version of "Across the Universe" by The Beatles, featuring a guest-appearance by Anja Rupel.

Other notable industrial music acts in Yugoslavia were Autopsia from Ruma, Serbia and Abbildungen Variete from Maribor, Slovenia.

The most notable electronic body music act was Borghesia, from Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Macedonian Darkwave and Gothic scene

While Slovenia had the Neue Slowenische Kunst movement, in Macedonia, the collective Makedonska Streljba was formed. The Macedonian Darkwave and Gothic rock scene featured some of the most prominent Macedonian acts ever, such as: Mizar and Padot na Vizantija, the latter featuring the former punk rocker Goran Trajkoski. Later he became a frontman of Anastasia, the ethnic music group which composed the soundtrack for Milčo Mančevski's Academy Award nominated movie Before the Rain. In 1989 one of the former Mizar's vocalists Risto Vrtev formed Arhangel, another cult band in the Macedonian scene. Mizar's guitarist Gorazd Čapovski, after moving to Australia, formed the prominent group Kismet. These artists combined their alternative music with strong elements of Macedonian traditional folklore and many of them espoused Eastern Orthodox Christianity, which can be noted by their lyrics and the Church music elements blended in their dark rock sound. The scene attracted a huge fanbase of so called "darkeri". Contrary to many of their counterparts in the West who were against the Christianity, many of the Macedonian alternative-oriented youths openly espoused Eastern Orthodox Christianity influenced by these bands, at the same time provoking the communist establishment. However, recently, some of the movement's major figures, notably Gorazd Čapovski, have expressed high admiration for the former Yugoslav rock scene that existed during the communist era.

Extreme Metal

The Extreme metal music scene across SFR Yugoslavia was also developed. It included various thrash metal, speed metal and death metal acts. A festival called "Hard Metal" was taking place in Belgrade and also a magazine with the same name was published.

Notable acts included: Bombarder (initially formed in Sarajevo, later moved to Belgrade), Bloodbath (not to be confused with the Swedish band Bloodbath), Heller and others. The thrash metal band Sanatorium was formed in Skopje in 1987. During its 20 years of existence, it shared stage with many prominent international stars such as Motörhead, Halford, Soulfly and others.

Rap music

Many rap music artists emerged in SFR Yugoslavia throughout the 1980s. Breakdance groups also existed especially in the first half of the 1980s. A prominent breakdance rap act was The Master Scratch Band. They have released some works for Jugoton in 1984 including the track "Break War" feat. Hit Meseca host Dubravka Duca Marković. Disciplina Kičme also used rap music elements, though in their own specific way, always mixed with numerous other styles.

But there was an artist who utilized rap music in a very distinguishable manner. In the late 1980s, a charismatic musician of Montenegrin origin came into nationwide prominence: Rambo Amadeus. His pseudonym as well as his music encompassed an intellectual attitude on one side, but also a distinguishable Balkan-flavoured humour and macho camp on the other. He often, if not always used rap music combined with folk music parody and political and social satire, although he doesn't fit into the conventional rap music category because he went beyond the style. He is also famous for coining the term Turbo folk, though he was one of its greatest enemies. He is still a cult personality in the ex-Yugoslav territories.

He often closely cooperated with another musician, Dino Dvornik, the son of the famous Croatian actor Boris Dvornik. Dino Dvornik was a popular funk-inspired dance-pop artist.

Yugoslav Wars

Two years after the group Riva won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1989 and one year after the Eurovision Song Contest 1990 took place in Zagreb, the SFR Yugoslav pop and rock scene ceased to exist with the breakup of Yugoslavia. Ironically, the 1990 winning song performed by Toto Cutugno was called (in Italian: Together in 1992) featuring the lyrics "Together, Unite, Unite Europe!" acclaiming the approaching European unification that took place in 1992.

With the outbreak of the Yugoslav Wars many of the former Yugoslav musicians participated in anti-war and anti-nationalist activities, and were often attacked by the nationalists in their countries. In 1992, the supergroup Rimtutituki featuring members of the eminent bands Partibrejkers, Ekatarina Velika and Električni orgazam released an anti-militarist song, and after the authorities forbade them to promote it with a live show, they performed on a trailer towed by a truck through the streets of Belgrade. However, some previously involved in the Yugoslav pop and rock scene embraced national chauvinism, and some even saw active combat. But the war was not only waged with guns. Notable example is the case of the song "E, moj druže Beogradski" ("Hey my Belgrade comrade"). It was an emotional anti-war song pointed against the serbian nationalism written by Jura Stublić from the Croatian group Film. In the song, he appealed to the Serbian people, especially his former Serbian comrades, to remember the old days of friendship and cooperation and to stop their military attack on Croatia. Bora Đorđević, who had a cult status in the Serbian rock scene as a frontman of Riblja Čorba soon "replied", of course with a song. It was cynical parody featuring ultranationalist messages named "E, moj druže Zagrebački" ("Hey my Zagreb comrade"). [http://arhiva.glas-javnosti.co.yu/arhiva/2003/11/23/srpski/R03112202.shtml]

Another notable example from this period is what happened with the Sarajevo based group Zabranjeno Pušenje. The group split into two separate fractions: one in Sarajevo and the other in Belgrade. The latter rose to international prominence under the name No Smoking Orchestra led by Nele Karajlić also feat. the movie director Emir Kusturica. They played with Joe Strummer as well and that concert footage is included in the Super 8 Stories film directed by Kusturica.

While Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia proclaimed themselfes independent states, the leaderships of Serbia and Montenegro decided to form a new federal state called the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia which existed from 1992 until 2003, however it was not recognized a legal succesor to the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. [http://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/UNMembers%20SRES777.pdf]

The local scenes in the independent countries that emerged after the breakup of Yugoslavia continued to exist, some of them heavily suffering during the war. The music scene continued even in the shelters during the Sarajevo siege and a compilation album "Rock under siege" (Radio Zid Sarajevo, Stichting Popmuziek Nederland) was released in 1995.

Current (2000s)

After the end of the conflicts and especially later, after the departure of the nationalist leaders such as Slobodan Milošević and Franjo Tuđman, the former Yugoslav nations started to normalise their relations. Thus their music scenes could freely restore their former cooperation. Many of the former pop and rock stars re-emerged and toured the former Yugoslav countries: Bijelo Dugme, Leb i Sol, Crvena Jabuka, Plavi Orkestar, Massimo Savić (formerly of Dorian Gray) and Boris Novković (formerly of the group Boris i Noćna Straža), while Toše Proeski recorded a duet with Anja Rupel.

Following the reconciliation of Serbia and Croatia, also Jura Stublić came for a concert in Belgrade in 2003. Asked by the media about "E, moj druže Zagrebački" case, Bora Đorđević replied that "it was just a joke" [http://arhiva.glas-javnosti.co.yu/arhiva/2003/11/23/srpski/R03112202.shtml] . He also expressed approbation for the Jura Stublić's comeback to Belgrade after so many years.

In 2003 Igor Mirković from Croatia made the rockumentary "Sretno dijete" ("Happy Child") named after a song by Prljavo Kazalište. The movie covers the early Yugoslav Punk and Yugoslav New Wave scene feat. eminent artists from Zagreb, Ljubljana and Belgrade.

Music for children

Many eminent former Yugoslav Pop and Rock artists composed children's music, mostly educational. The SFR Yugoslav system through its media encouraged children to practise the traditional folk music and dances, as well as to listen to pop and rock music, contrary to the kitschy novokomponovana narodna muzika (similar to pop folk).

* Vranešević brothers from Laboratorija zvuka were especially active in composing music for children TV programs. Their music was featured in the popular shows: "Poletarac"; "Priče iz Nepričave" starring Zoran Radmilović and Milena Dravić, and "Čik pogodi ko sam" (Guess who am I?), in which, one of the episodes featured Kornelije Kovač who invited the kids to his studio.
*The Macedonian children show "Bušava azbuka" (Бушава Азбука) created by Goran Stefanovski and Slobodan Unkovski featured music by Leb i sol and Ana Kostovska, the frontress of Bastion.
*The ultra popular children TV show "Fore i fazoni" created by Ljubivoje Ršumović featured performances by Laboratorija zvuka, the Croatian pop star Oliver Dragojević, the pop group Poslednja Igra Leptira and many others. A funny coincidence is that the innitials of Poslednja Igra Leptira were the same with those of Public Image Limited.
*Branko Kockica gained nationwide popularity as a children show host of "Kocka, kocka, kockica". He often used rock music in his show. Once he appeared in a stereotypical rock outfit playing Riblja Čorba's "Rokenrol za kućni savet", a song about irritating the neighbours with loud rock music. He also released various children music albums like 1988's "Deca bez adrese" with Oliver Mandić.
*Arsen Dedić the prominent Croatian chanson artist released an album "Arsen pjeva djeci" (Arsen sings to the children).
*Vlado Kalember from Srebrna Krila released a children song for peace "Nek živi ljubav".
*Srđan Gojković - Gile from Električni Orgazam together with Vlada Divljan from Idoli released two educational children albums: "Rokenrol za decu" and "Rokenrol bukvar"


* [http://www.geopoetika.com/book.php?id=99 Janjatović, Petar. "Ilustrovana Enciklopedija Yu Rocka 1960-1997", publisher: Geopoetika, 1997] sr icon
* [http://www.knjizara.co.yu/index.php?gde=@http%3A//www.knjizara.co.yu/pls/sasa/knjizara.knjiga%3Fk_id%3D702@ Petar Janjatović "EX YU ROCK enciklopedija 1960-2006"] ISBN 978-86-905317-1-4 sr icon
*Janjatović, Petar. "Drugom stranom - Almanah novog talasa u SFRJ" (co-authors David Albahari and Dragan Kremer), 1983 sr icon
* Dragan Pavlov and Dejan Šunjka "Punk u Jugoslaviji" (Punk in Yugoslavia), publisher: IGP Dedalus, Yugoslavia, 1990 sr icon hr icon sl icon

Record labels

*Beograd Disk
*Sarajevo Disk

Related movies

*Sretno dijete
* [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0158610/ Kako je propao Rocknroll]
* [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0180633/ Dečko koji obećava]
* [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087123/ Davitelj protiv Davitelja]
*Bilo jednom...

ee also

*New Wave in Yugoslavia
*Punk in Yugoslavia
*Serbian rock
*Sarajevo school of pop rock
*Music of Yugoslavia
*Music of Slovenia
*Music of Croatia
*Music of Bosnia and Herzegovina
*Music of Serbia
*Music of the Republic of Macedonia
*Music of Montenegro
*List of Yugoslav Patriotic Songs
*Rokeri s Moravu

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia — Socijalistička Federativna Republika Jugoslavijaa (sh–lat) Социјалистичка Федеративна Република Југославијаb (sh–cyr) Socialistična federativna republika Jugoslavijac (sl) …   Wikipedia

  • Music of Croatia — Part of a series on the Culture of Croatia Timeline …   Wikipedia

  • Yugoslavia — (Serbo Croatian, Croatian, Serbian, Slovene, Macedonian: Jugoslavija ; Cyrillic script: Југославија; literally in English: South Slavia or Land of South Slavs ) is a term that describes three political entities that existed successively on the… …   Wikipedia

  • Republic of Macedonia — For other uses, see Macedonia. Republic of Macedonia Република Македонија Republika Makedonija …   Wikipedia

  • Socialist Republic of Croatia — Socijalistička Republika Hrvatska Socialist Republic of Croatia A federal unit of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia …   Wikipedia

  • Music of Serbia — Part of a series on the Culture of Serbia Arts …   Wikipedia

  • Socialist realism — is a teleologically oriented style of realistic art which has as its purpose the furtherance of the goals of socialism and communism. Although related, it should not be confused with social realism, a type of art that realistically depicts… …   Wikipedia

  • Music of Bosnia and Herzegovina — Bosnian music continues despite the nation s sometimes troubled history. Like the surrounding Balkan countries, Bosnia and Herzegovina has had a turbulent past marked by frequent foreign invasions and occupation. As a result, Bosnian music is now …   Wikipedia

  • The Raccoons — Infobox Television show name = The Raccoons caption = The Raccoons genre = Animated television series/Children s runtime = 25 mins creator = Kevin Gillis producer = Atkinson Film Arts (1985 1986) Hinton Animation Studios (1987 1992) executive… …   Wikipedia

  • New Wave music in Yugoslavia — New Wave in Yugoslavia (Bosnian, Croatian and Slovene: Novi val; Serbian: Нови талас, Novi talas/Novi talas; Macedonian: Нов бран, transl.: Nov bran; all meaning New wave ) was the New Wave music scene of the Socialist Federal Republic of… …   Wikipedia