Wednesday, November 20, 2013

RIP Czech singing legend Pavel Bobek

Pavel Bobek at the gala Prague concert in 2012 celebrating his 75th birthday

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

Sad news in the Czech music world....the singing legend Pavel Bobek died in Prague today (Nov. 20). He was 76, and had been in declining health for some time.

I got to know his music -- and him, a little -- in recent years as he performed frequently with Druha Trava and with Lubos Malina, who also produced Bobek's last CDs. Last year, he was inducted into the Czech popular music award "Andel"'s hall of fame.

Bobek got his start in the late 50s/early 60s as  the Communist era's "Mister Rock and Roll," and also became a star in the Czech country scene. He had big hits with covers of American songs by Kris Kristofferson, Jon Denver, Bruce Springsteen and more -- like this Buddy Holly cover, very early on.

Another early clip -- a Czech version of "Sunday Morning Coming Down"

And here he sings another of his big hits -- a Czech version of Springsteen's "My Home Town." The video sets it against the bleakness of a Czech Communist-era "panel house" apartment complex...

Bobek's duet with DT's Robert Krestan of "Jeste Neni Tma," Robert's Czech version of Bob Dylan's "It's Not Dark Yet"  from the 2007 Dylanovky CD, is one of my favorites. Here they are, performing it in 2010 during a concert  in Prague.

As I wrote at the time, the concert was very poignant, as his health problems were evident even then, three years ago -- but the packed audience gave him thunderous applause.

Last year, I attended a gala concert marking his 75th birthday. Again, it was a very poignant, very moving experience, as he appeared very frail onstage. Again, he performed for a full, enthusiastic audience.

Another Czech singing legend, Karel Gott, joined Bobek on stage at the birthday concert.

I have to close with Bobek's Czech version of "Country Roads"....

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