Zdravko Čolić
(Serbian Cyrillic: Здравко Чолић)


30 may 1951

Born in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina as the son of police administrator Vladimir and homemaker Stana Čolić young Zdravko showed more an interest in sports then in music. But with his friend Braco Isović he started to perform at informal park gatherings. His first significant public singing experience occurred in 1968 when he spent a couple of days at the Montenegrin coast. He got pushed by friend Nedim Idrizović to enter the amateur signing competition in nearby Bijela. He won second prize singing ‘Lady Madonna’ by The Beatles. Inspired and back in Sarajevo he joined the band Mladi i lijepi. After graduation in 1969 he joined the more established Ambasadori. This was initially a cover band and feeling limited bandmembers Vujović and Čolić decided to step out and form Novi ambasadori in 1970. Spotted by Kornelije Kovač, mastermind behind the Korni grupa, during a TV show Čolić was asked to replace Dado Topić in the band. He moved to Belgrade but the stint with Korni grupa turned out to be ill fated. He recorded three tracks with them all released in a 7-inch single by PGP RTB. Track ‘Gospa Mica gazdarica’ managed to create minor controversy due to the slightly risque lyrics written from the perspective of a young man imploring his older female landlord to allow him into her bed. Čolić and Kovač agreed that it would be better for Zdravko to go solo. Only six months upon his arrival to Belgrade, he returned to Sarajevo determined to give solo career a try.

On April 15, 1972 Čolić's first solo move was taking part in the Vaš šlager sezone competitive festival in Sarajevo. He won the third audience prize as well as the interpretation award with Kemal Monteno-written song ‘Sinoć nisi bila tu’ that was originally meant to be sung by Josipa Lisac who opted out at the last moment. But the big break came in 1973 when he won the Opatija festival with song ‘Gori vatra’. This meant he would representent Yugoslavia at the 1973 Eurovision Song Contest in Luxembourg. The song placed poorly, but became a massive hit at home. Throughout the seventies Čolić kept doing the festivals and was even contracted by the German WEA label who tried to market him as Dravco with some singles of which ‘I'm not a robot man / Light me’ was the most ‘succesfull’.

In 1975 his debut album was finally a fact. ‘Ti i ja’ ('You and me') was produced by Kovač, and featured hits like ‘Vagabund’ and ‘Loše vino’ (written by Arsen Dedić and Goran Bregović). His second album, ‘Ako priđeš bliže’ ('If you come closer'), created mass hysteria among Yugoslavian girls. The album sold 50,000 copies in first two weeks alone. On April 1, 1978, he started an ambitious tour of SFR Yugoslavia with Lokice dance group. His image and performing style were styled after the then globally popular John Travolta. The climax was a massive show in Belgrade where Čolić was joined on stage by artists like Dado Topić, Kornelije Kovač, Arsen Dedić and Josip Boček. In 1978 Čolić, then 20 years old, had to join the army. He was assigned to a unit in Valjevo, before getting transferred to Belgrade, and finally Požarevac. After Čolić started work on his third album that came out in the Spring 1980.

In 1983, Čolić moved from his hometown Sarajevo to Ljubljana where he started a private business with Goran Bregović through their Kamarad label. One of the first releases was Zdravko’s fourth album ‘Malo pojačaj radio’ which was an artistic step forward with songs written by Đorđe Balašević and Marina Tucakovic. The duo kept on working together until this date with Čolić also writing more of his own material since his 1988 album.Čolić then lived in Zagreb for a couple of years before moving to Belgrade in 1990 where he resides to this day. The war in former Yugoslavia made him decide to stop performing and recluse from public life. In 2000 he made a grand comeback with a new album and a tour that did most of the big cities of former Yugoslavia and a grand final show broadcasted on TV and viewed by 4 million people. His last album is from 2006.

On the web:

- Zdravko's website: http://www.zdravkocolic-cola.com

If you like this, you probably like... / european counterparts:

Claude Francois (France) - for Zdravko's seventies work

What do we think:

DB: In first instance I placed Čolić as a copy of French star Claude Francois who has the similar taste in dance-tunes, flashy clothes and female dancers. Surprisingly his style changed in the eighties when he started to work closely with Goran Bregovic. The typical Bregovic ethno sound isn’t appreciated by everyone however when you read the fora on internet. As is the ongoing discussion about his descent where Bosnians and Serbs fall over each other to claim Zdravko to either side. That aside Čolić is one of the better singers that stay on the good side of pop. It’s light but it’s surely not bad.

Recommended albums:

♪♪ - Ako priđeš bliže ('If you come closer') - 1978

♪♪ - Zbog tebe ('Because of you') - 1980

♪♪♪ - Malo pojačaj radio ('Turn up the radio a bit') - 1982

♪♪♪ - Ti si mi u krvi ('You are in my blood') - 1985

♪♪♪ - Zdravko Čolić - 1988

Further listening:

Ti i ja ('You and me') - 1975; Šta mi radiš ('What are you doing to me?') - 1983; Da ti kažem šta mi je ('To tell you what I'm going through') - 1990; Kad bi moja bila ('If you were mine') - 1997; Okano - 2000; Čarolija ('Enchantment') - 2003; Zavičaj ('Homeland') - 2006

♪♪♪♪♪ = outstanding album, an absolute must-have
♪♪♪♪ = great album, highly recomended
♪♪♪ = nice album
♪♪ = be careful, requires listening before buying
♪ = best to be avoided


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