Goran Bregovic/ Bijelo Dugme
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22 March 1950

Goran Bregović (Serbian Cyrillic: Горан Бреговић), was born in Sarajevo. He spent much of his childhood in Music School, studying violin, from which he was expelled for 'lack of talent'. Soon after his expulsion, his mother bought him a guitar. When he was sixteen, his mother left him and went to the coast, meaning that other than having a few relatives to rely on, he mostly had to take care of himself. He did that by playing folk music in a bar in Konjic, working on construction sites, and selling newspapers.

Spotting him at a Beštije gig, Željko Bebek invited Bregović to play bass guitar in his band 'Kodeksi', which Goran gladly accepted. In 1971 Goran and Zoran Redžić started playing in a band, named 'Jutro' (trans. 'Morning'). The band in the next few years transformed a lot and on January 1, 1974 the band changed its name to 'Bijelo Dugme' ('White Button'). After recruiting the band's first line up, Bijelo dugme under the name Jutro (translation: 'Morning') were turned down by Sarajevo based record company Diskoton, but another record company, Jugoton, signed them up to record a single. The first single was named Kad bi' bio bijelo dugme (translation: 'If I were a white button'). After the single was released, the band's manager talked Bregović into changing the band's name to 'Bijelo Dugme'. Bregović was the band's sole composer and wrote most of the lyrics.

With its charismatic vocalist Željko Bebek, the band soon reached superstardom in the former Yugoslavia, and, as one newspaper put it, sold more records than there were record players in the country. Goran Bregović also releases solo albums next to the band. In 1976 he releases his first self-titled solo album in-between the band's second ('Šta bi dao da si na mom mjestu') and third ('Eto! Baš hoću!') studio albums. The album is actually a re-work of 'Dugme' and 'Jutro' material added with five Bregović-composed songs that were never previously released or recorded. They were recorded specifically for this album with Zdenka Kovačiček, Bisera Veletanlić, Jadranka Stojaković (2 songs), and Milić Vukašinović on vocal.

The pinnacle of the band's career was 1979's 'Bitanga i princeza'. The turn of the decade brought the rise of numerous Yugoslav new wave artists, including Azra, and 'Bijelo Dugme' soon found their popularity sinking, to which they reacted by reinventing themselves for their 1980 release 'Doživjeti stotu', featuring a much more new wave sound. The chorus of their ska song 'Ha, Ha, Ha' was used as the title of a compilation album by various artists 'Svi marš na ples!' which was released by Jugoton in 1981.

The eighties also brought problems with the vocalist. 1984 brought the departure of Željko Bebek to pursue a solo career and Mladen Vojičić - Tifa was recruited to replace him for their 1984 self-titled release. He in turn left the band because of inner conflicts and was replaced by Alen Islamović, formerly vocalist of the heavy metal band 'Divlje jagode' for their last two folk-inspired records. The band disbanded in 1989 after Alen Islamović checked into hospital for chest pains during their last tour, without telling anyone he was ill.

At the time 'Bijelo Dugme' was falling apart, Goran entered the world of film music. He made soundtracks for movies like 'Time of the gypsies' (1989), 'Arizona dream' (1993) and 'Underground' (1995). Mid nineties he also started to work with several other European artists like Turkish singer Sezen Aksu (for her album 'Düğün ve Cenaze'), Georgios Dalaras ('Thessaloniki - Yannena with Two Canvas Shoes' in 1999) and Polish singer Kayah ('Kayah i Bregović' in 2000. Amongst many others. In 2005 he took part in 3 large ‘farewell concerts’ of 'Bijelo Dugme'. In 2006 he co-writes the song 'Moja stikla' ('My high heels') the Croation entry for the Euriovision Song Contest, sung by Lolita-singer Severina. In 2007 he releases his opera project 'Karmen with a happy end'. Despite its name it does not have much in common with the famous Bizet's 'Carmen'. For 2008 he works on a new album under the title ‘Alcohol’. He also performed as the entr'act at the 2008 Eurovision and collaborates with Severina again for her album 'Zdravo Marijo', containing a collection of her interpretations of Bregovic songs. In 2012 Goran makes a return with a set of new songs gathered on 'Champagne for gypsies'.

On the web:

- Gorans webesite: http://www.goranbregovic.co.yu
- Website about Bijelo Dugme: http://milosm.coolfreepage.com/Glavna.html
- Forum about Bijelo Dugme: http://www.dugmiciforum.com

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

KFT (Hungary)

Hapka & Horáček (Czech Republic)

What do we think:

DB: Bregovic is one of the most interesting artists coming from FRS Yugoslavia. Bregović's music carries both South Slavic and Romani themes and is a fusion of popular music with traditional polyphonic music from the Balkans, tango and brass bands. He tends to rework certain arrangements endlessly in his compositions. For instance, the interlude in the 1979 song Sve će to mila moja prekriti ruzmarin, snjegovi i šaš, pops up again and again in his work. This has the effect that you sometimes think you already know a song and are listening to a compilation. When in fact it’s a new album.

PR: Bregovic succeeded in exporting traditional-like Balkan music to the rest of the world, attracting especially world music lovers. He is definitely a multitalented artist, that worked with other artists all over the world, like Jane Birkin (France), Kaya (Poland), Sezen Aksu (Turkey), Ofra Haza (Israel) and Iggy Pop (Great Brittain). Evidence of his succes is that he was asked to perform as 'entre act' in the final of the Eurvision Songcontest 2008.


♪♪♪♪ - Goran Bregović - 1976

♪♪♪♪♪ - Bitanga i princeza (The Brute & the Princess) - 1979

♪♪ - Doživjeti stotu (Live to be 100) - 1980

♪♪♪ - Uspavanka za Radmilu M. (Lullaby for Radmila M.) - 1983

♪♪♪♪ - Kayah i Bregović - 1999

♪♪♪ - Songbook (compilation) - 2000

 Tales and songs from weddings and funerals - 2002

♪♪ - Champagne for gypsies - 2012

Further listening:

Bijelo Dugme: Kad bi' bio bijelo dugme ('If I were a white button´) - 1974; Šta bi dao da si na mom mjestu ('What I would give for you to be in my place') - 1975; Eto! Baš hoću! ('There! I will!') - 1976; Pljuni i zapjevaj moja Jugoslavijo ('Spit and sing, my Yugoslavia') - 1986; Ćiribiribela - 1988

Solo: A milicija trenira strogoću - 1983; Dom za vjesanje - 1989; Kuduz - 1989; Silence of the Balkans (live album) -1997; Protopsálti - Paradéchtika - 1998);  Goran Bregovic's Karmen with a Happy End - 2007; Alcohol - 2008

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