Bijelo Dugme

Bijelo Dugme

The default Bijelo Dugme lineup. Standing: Zoran Redžić; sitting, from left to right: Vlado Pravdić, Goran Bregović, Željko Bebek, Ipe Ivandić.
Background information
Origin Sarajevo, SR Bosnia and Herzegovina, SFR Yugoslavia
Genres Hard rock, progressive rock, folk rock, new wave, pop rock
Years active 1974 — 1989
(reunions: 2005)
Labels Jugoton, Diskoton, Kamarad, Croatia Records
Associated acts Kodeksi, Jutro, Indexi, Smak, Formula 4, Teška Industrija, Amila, Divlje Jagode, Vatreni Poljubac
Past members Goran Bregović
Željko Bebek
Jadranko Stanković
Vlado Pravdić
Ipe Ivandić
Zoran Redžić
Milić Vukašinović
Laza Ristovski
Điđi Jankelić
Mladen Vojičić
Alen Islamović

Bijelo Dugme (trans. White Button) was a Yugoslav rock band, based in Sarajevo. Bijelo Dugme is widely considered to have been the most popular band ever to exist in the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and one of the most important acts of the Yugoslav rock scene.

Bijelo Dugme was officially formed in 1974, although the members of the default lineup, guitarist Goran Bregović, vocalist Željko Bebek, drummer Ipe Ivandić, keyboardist Vlado Pravdić and bass guitarist Zoran Redžić, were previously active under the name Jutro. The band's debut album Kad bi bio bijelo dugme, released in 1974, brought them nationwide popularity with its Balkan folk-influenced hard rock sound. The band's future several releases, featuring similar sound, maintained their huge popularity, described by the media as "Dugmemania", and the band's work, especially their symphonic ballads with poetic lyrics, was also widely praised by the critics. In the early 1980s, with the emergence of Yugoslav new wave scene, the band moved towards new wave, managing to remain one of the most popular bands in the country. After the departure of Bebek in 1983, the band was joined by vocalist Mladen Vojičić "Tifa", with whom the band recorded only one, self-titled album. The band's last vocalist, Alen Islamović, joined the band in 1986, and with him Bijelo Dugme recorded two albums, disbanding, with the rising tensions in Yugoslavia, in 1989. In 2005, the band reunited in the lineup that featured most of the musicians that passed through the band, including all three vocalists, for three concerts, in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Zagreb, Croatia and in Belgrade, Serbia.


The beginnings (1969–73)

Kodeksi (1969–71)

The band's history begins in 1969. At the time, the future leader of Bijelo Dugme, Goran Bregović, was the bass guitarist in the band Beštije (trans. The Beasts).[1] He was spotted by Kodeksi (The Codexes) vocalist Željko Bebek. As Kodeksi needed a bass guitarist, on Bebek's suggestion, Bregović became a member of the band.[1] The band's lineup consisted of Ismeta Dervoz (vocals), Edo Bogeljić (guitar), Željko Bebek (rhythm guitar and vocals), Goran Bregović (bass guitar), and Luciano Paganotto (drums).[1] At the time, the band Pro Arte was also interested in hiring Bregović, but he decided to stay with Kodeksi.[1] After performing in a night club in Dubrovnik, Kodeksi were hired to perform in a club in Naples, Italy.[1] However, the parents of the only female member, Ismeta Dervoz, did not allow her to go to Italy.[2] In Naples, the band initially performed covers of songs by Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, but were soon asked to perform music more suitable for night clubs.[3] After two months, the band's guitarist Edo Bogeljić returned to Sarajevo to continue his studies, and Bregović switched to guitar.[3] Local Italian musician called Fernando Savino was brought in to play the bass,[3] but after he quit too, Bebek called up old friend Zoran Redžić, formerly of the band Čičak (Burdock).[1] Redžić in turn brought along his bandmate from Čičak Milić Vukašinović as replacement on drums for Paganotto, who also quit in the meantime.[1] Vukašinović brought new musical influences along the lines of what Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath were doing at the time. Additionally, he convinced Bregović, Bebek and Redžić on incorporating the new sound into their set,[1] and within two weeks of his arrival, Kodeksi were fired from all the places they were playing.[1]

The foursome of Bebek, Bregović, Redžić and Vukašinović stayed on the island of Capri and in 1970 relocated back to Naples.[1] At this time, the other three members persuaded Bebek to stop playing the rhythm guitar reasoning that it was not fashionable any more.[1] Bebek also had trouble adapting to the new material vocally. He would sing the intro on most songs and then step back as the other three members improvised for the remainder of songs, with Vukašinović taking the vocal duties more and more often.[1] After being a key band member only several months earlier, Bebek thought his role was gradually being reduced.[1] During the fall of 1970, he left Kodeksi to return to Sarajevo.[1]

Vukašinović, Bregović, and Redžić continued to perform, but had to return to Sarajevo in the spring of 1971, when Bregović's mother and Redžić's brother came to Italy to bring them back.[1] Upon returning, the trio had only one concert in Sarajevo, performing under the name Mića, Goran i Zoran (Mića, Goran and Zoran). At the concert, they performed covers of songs by Cream, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Ten Years After, Taste, Free, and managed to thrill the audience.[4] Soon after, the trio got the opportunity to appear in a Television Sarajevo show, but under the condition that they record a song of their own.[5] Hastily composed and recorded "Ja i zvezda sjaj" ("Me and the Stars' Glow") was of poor quality and little artistic value,[5] which influenced Vukašinović's decision to move to London.[5] He left Sarajevo in late summer of 1971, and the trio ended their activity.[1]

Jutro (1971–73)

At the autumn of 1971, guitarist Ismet Arnautalić invited Bregović to form Jutro (Morning).[1] The band's lineup featured, alongside Arnautalić and Bregović, Redžić on bass, Gordan Matrak on drums and vocalist Zlatko Hodnik.[1] Bregović wrote his first songs as a member of Jutro.[1] The band had made some recordings with Hodnik when Bregović decided they needed a vocalist with more aggressive vocal style, so he invited Bebek to become the band's new singer.[6] With Bebek, the band recorded the song "Patim, evo, deset dana" ("I've Been Suffering for Ten Days"), which was, in 1972, released as the B-side of the single "Ostajem tebi" ("I Remain Yours"), which was recorded with Hodnik.[1] After the song recording, Bebek left the band to serve the army, but the rest of the band decided to wait for his return to continue their activity.[1]

During Bebek's short leave from the army, the band recorded four more songs: "Kad bi' bio bijelo dugme" ("If I Were a White Button"), "U subotu, mala" ("On Saturday, Baby"), "Na vrh brda vrba mrda" (the title being a traditional tongue-twister) and "Hop-cup" ("Whoopsie Daisy"), the first two appearing on a 7" single.[1] Dissatisfied with the music direction the band was moving towards, Arnautalić left the band at the end of 1972, convinced that the right to the name Jutro should belong to him.[1] For some time, guitarist Midorag "Bata" Kostić, a former member of YU Grupa, rehearsed with the band, but this cooperation was soon ended.[6] YU Grupa were one of the pioneers in combining elements of the traditional music of the Balkans with rock, and Bregović would later state on number of occasions that this cooperation influenced Bijelo Dugme's folk rock sound.[1] After Matrak left the band, he was replaced by Perica Stojanović, who was shortly after replaced by former Pro Arte member Vladimir Borovčanin "Šento".[7] Borovčanin tried to secure a record contract with Jugoton, but lost faith in his new band after he failed.[7] He and Redžić neglected rehearsals, and both left the band after an argument with Bregović.[7]

Redžić was replaced by Ivica Vinković, who was at the time a regular member of Ambasadori, but was not able to travel with the band on their Soviet Union tour.[8] Borovčanin was replaced by former Mobi Dik (Moby Dick) and Rok (Rock) member Goran "Ipe" Ivandić.[8] Instead of second guitar, Bregović decided to include keyboards in the band's new lineup. Experienced Vlado Pravdić, a former member of Ambasadori and Indexi, became Jutro's keyboardist.[9] The band prepared several songs for the recording in Radio Sarajevo's studio, but Arnautalić pulled his connections, and Jutro's recording sessions were cancelled.[8] However, the band managed to make an agreement with producer Nikola Borota Radovan, who allowed them to secretly record the songs "Top" ("Cannon") and "Ove ću noći naći blues" ("This Night I'll Find the Blues") in the studio.[8] The intro to "Top" was inspired by traditional ganga music.[10] Soon after, Vinković rejoined Ambasadori, and was replaced by Jadranko Stanković, a former member of Sekcija (Section) and Rok.[11]

At this time, the band adopted the name Bijelo Dugme. They decided to change the name because of the conflict with Aranautalić,[11] but also because of the existence of another, Ljubljana-based band with the name Jutro.[1] As the band was already known for the song "Kad bi' bio bijelo dugme", they choose the name Bijelo Dugme.[1] The band officially started working under this name from January 1974.[1]

Željko Bebek years (1974–84)

"Shepherd rock" years: rise to fame and "Dugmemania" (1974–79)

In January 1974, with Borota, the band finished their work on the "Top" and "Ove ću noći naći blues" recordings.[12] The band and Borota offered these recordings to the Sarajevo-based record label Diskoton. The music editor Slobodan Vujović refused them, stating that there was already a great number of signed acts and that Bijelo Dugme would have to wait for at least six months for the single to be released.[1][12] This is widely considered the greatest business mistake in the history of Yugoslav record publishing.[1][12] On the same day the band were refused by Diskoton, they were offered a five-year contract with Zagreb-based Jugoton.[12] On March 29, 1974, "Top" and "Ove ću noći naći blues" were released on a 7" single.[10] Bijelo Dugme's first release would be sold in 30,000 copies.[13]

The band started promoting the single, performing mostly in smaller towns.[1] Stanković, unsatisfied with the agreement that only Bregović would compose the band's songs and feeling he did not fit in with the rest of the members, continued to perform with Bijelo Dugme, but avoided any deeper relations.[14] Soon after, Bregović, Bebek, Ivandić and Pravdić decided to exclude him from the band.[15] Redžić was invited to join the band, which he accpeted, despite his previous conflict with Bregović.[15] The following 7" single, featuring songs "Glavni junak jedne knjige" ("The Main Character of a Book"), with lyrics written by poet Duško Trifunović, and "Bila mama Kukunka, bio tata Taranta" ("There Was Mommy Kukunka, There Was Daddy Taranta"), was almost at the same time released by both Jugoton and Diskoton, as Bregović signed contracts with both of the labels.[1] This scandal brought huge press covering and increased the record sale.[1]

The band had their first bigger performance at the 1974 BOOM Festival in Ljubljana, where they were announced as "the new hopes".[1] The live version of "Ove ću noći naći blues" appeared on the double live album Pop Festival Ljubljana '74 - BOOM.[15] This was also Bijelo Dugme's first performance on which the members of the group appeared in their glam rock outfits, which brought them new attention of the media.[15] The band spent the summer performing in Cavtat and preparing songs for their first album.[1] They soon released their third single, with the songs "Da sam pekar" ("If I Was a Baker") and "Selma".[1] "Da sam pekar" was musically inspired by the traditional "deaf kolo", while "Selma", with lyrics written by poet Vlado Dijak, was a hard rock ballad.[16] Some 100,000 copies of the single were sold, becoming Bijelo Dugme's first gold record.[17]

During September, the band performed as the opening band for Tihomir "Pop" Asanović's Jugoslovenska Pop Selekcija, and during the October, in studio Akademik in Ljubljana, they recorded their debut album Kad bi' bio bijelo dugme.[1] Several days before the album release, wanting to appear in the media as musch as possible, Bijelo Dugme performed at the Skopje Festival, playing the song "Edna nadež" ("One Hope") by composer Grigor Koprov.[18] Bregović later described this event as "the greatest disgrace in Bijelo Dugme's career".[1] Bebek sung in bad Macedonian, and the band did not fit in well in the ambient of a pop festival.[1] On the next evening, the band performed, alongside Pop Mašina, Smak and Crni Biseri, in Belgrade's Dom Sindikata, on the Radio Belgrade show Veče uz radio (Evening by the Radio) anniversary celebration, and managed to win the audience's attention.[19] At the time, Bijelo Dugme cooperated with manager Vladimir Mihaljek, who managed to arrange the band's performance as an opening band on Korni Grupa's farewell concert in Sarajevo's Skenderija, which won them new fans, as about 15,000 people in the audience were thrilled with Bijelo Dugme's performance.[19]

Kad bi' bio bijelo dugme, featuring a provocative cover designed by Dragan S. Stefanović (who would also design covers for the band's future releases), saw huge success.[19] It brought a number of commercial hard rock songs with folk music elements, which were described as "pastirski rok" (shepherd rock) by journalist Dražen Vrdoljak.[19] This term was (and still is) sometimes used by the Yugoslav critics in order to classify Bijelo Dugme's sound.[20][21] The album featured the new version of "Kad bi' bio bijelo dugme", "Patim, evo, deset dana", "Sve ću da ti dam samo da zaigram" ("I Will Give Everything to You Only to Dance"), ballad "Selma", blues track "Blues za moju bivšu dragu" ("Blues for My Former Darling") and rock and roll-influenced hit "Ne spavaj, mala moja, muzika dok svira" ("Don't You Sleep, Baby, while the Music Is Playing").[19] Immediately after the release, the album broke the record for the best selling Yugoslav rock album, previously held by YU Grupa's debut album, which was sold in more than 30,000 copies.[19] In February 1975, Bijelo Dugme was awarded a gold record at the Opatija Festival, as they, up to that moment, sold their debut album in more than 40,000 copies. The final number of copies sold was about 141,000.[19]

Bijelo Dugme and collaborators in London's AIR Studios on Oxford Street in November 1975 during the recording of Šta bi dao da si na mom mjestu; from left to right: sound engineer Peter Henderson, producer Neil Harrison, Ipe Ivandić, Goran Bregović, Željko Bebek, Vlado Pravdić, and Jugoton executive Veljko Despot.

In late February 1975, Mihaljek organized Kongres rock majstora (Congress of Rock Masters), an event conceptualized as a competition between the best Yugoslav guitarists at the time.[19] Although Smak guitarist Radomir Mihajlović Točak left the best impression on the gathered crowd, he was not officially recognized due to his band not being under contract with Jugoton, a record label that financially supported the competition.[19] Instead, Vedran Božić (of Time), Josip Boček (formerly of Korni Grupa), Bata Kostić (of YU Grupa), and Bregović were proclaimed the best.[19] Each of them got to record one side on the Kongres rock majstora double album. While the other three guitarists recorded their songs with members of YU Grupa, Bregović decided to work with his own band and Zagreb String Quartet.[19] After the album was released, the four guitarists went on a joint tour, on which they were supported by YU Grupa members.[19] At the time, Bijelo Dugme released the single "Da mi je znati koji joj je vrag" ("If I Could Just Know What the Hell Is Wrong with Her"),[19] after which they started their first big Yugoslav tour.[19] In the spring of 1975, they were already considered the most popular Yugoslav band.[19] Soon after, Bebek took part in an event similar to Kongres rock majstora — Rock Fest '75, the gathering of the most popular Yugoslav singers of the time; besides Bebek, the event featured Martin Škrgatić (of Grupa Martina Škrgatića), Mato Došen (of Hobo), Aki Rahimovski (of Parni Valjak), Seid Memić "Vajta" (of Teška Industrija), Boris Aranđelović (of Smak), Hrvoje Marjanović (of Grupa 220) Dado Topić (of Time) and Janez Bončina "Benč" (of September).[22]

Before the recording of their second album, Bijelo Dugme went to the village Borike in Eastern Bosnia in order to work on the songs and prepare for the recording sessions.[19] The album Šta bi dao da si na mom mjestu (What Would You Give to Be in My Place) was recorded in London during November 1975.[19] It was produced by Neil Harrison[19] who previously worked with Cockney Rebel and Gonzalez.[23] The bass guitar on the album was played by Bebek, as Redžić injured his middle finger just before the recording sessions started.[19] Nevertheless, Redžić was credited on the album, as he worked on the bass lines, and directed Bebek during the recording.[24] The lyrics for the title track were written by Duško Trifunović, while the rest of the lyrics were written by Bregović.[19] The main album hits were "Tako ti je, mala moja, kad ljubi Bosanac" ("That's How It Is, Baby, When You Kiss a Bosnian"), "Došao sam da ti kažem da odlazim" ("I've Come to Tell You that I'm Leaving"), "Ne gledaj me tako i ne ljubi me više" ("Don't Look at Me like that and Kiss Me no More") and "Požurite, konji moji" ("Be Faster, My Horses").[19] The band used the time spent in studio to record an English language song "Playing the Part", released on promo single which was distributed to journalists.[19] "Playing the Part" lyrics were written by Dave Townsend.[25] The album was a huge commercial success,[19] selling more that 200,000 copies.[19] After the first 50,000 records were sold, Šta bi dao da si na mom mjestu became the first Yugoslav album to be credited as diamond record.[26] After it was sold in more than 100,000 copies, it became the first platinum record in the history of Yugoslav record publishing, and after it was sold in more that 200,000 copies it was branded simply as "2x diamond record".[26] After the album release the band went on a warming-up tour across Kosovo and Metohija. During the tour, injured Redžić was replaced by former Kamen na Kamen member Mustafa "Mute" Kurtalić.[19] The album's initial promotion was scheduled to take place on the band's New Year's 1976 concert at Belgrade Sports Hall in Belgrade, with Pop Mašina, Buldožer and Cod as the opening bands.[27] However, five days before New Year's, the band canceled the concert due to getting invited to perform for Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito at the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb, as part of the New Year's celebration being organized for him.[27] Their performance was, however, stopped after only several minutes, reputedly because of the loudness.[19]

The oldest visitors of their concerts, which, like an epidemics, ravened during two months through all Yugoslav cities with more than 30,000 people, are not older than 15. If they are, they are mental coevals of ten-year-olds. Even for than unripe age of man's life, the lyrics: 'I will give my life, 'cause you're mine only, in that love, only love' seemed too moronic. The Buttons, original also when it comes to costumes, on their five inch heels, with earrings and trinkets, colored their 'lyrics' with 'traditional ghenes'. [...]

On their latest LP record there is a posterior with fingers pressed into it. They sold more than 600,000 records, and held 200 concerts during the last 365 days.

Bijelo Dugme is a peak of a wave of youth subculture. In this country there are also the League of Socialist Youth, the Institute for Social Issues, musical experts, serious publicists and press, radio and television. But neither institutions neither individuals had the courage (although they have interest) to establish the counterpoint to roistering advertising through something every society must have - through critical conscience. Not to execute or anathematize, but to knowingly lighten social life. Facing the masquerade, electronic music, vulgar lyrics, society's scientific minds pushed their heads deep into sand.

-Sergije Lukač
March 28, 1976[28]

Energy, as we know, can not be lost, although it often seemed to me that today's youth has lost it. More and more young chairwarmers appeared, ready to ape the older ones [...] In Dom Sportova, that pure energy of youth appeared in a fascinating form, equal to the concrete colossus in which it was, but collectively subjected to rock syntax.

That sort of joy and that sort of spontaneity, that sort of sensitivity and that sort of togetherness are possible only with creative spirits, which do not bargain for their position, but simply share it with the others, the same, the equal. With the sounds that tear to pieces everything that does not subject to them (I myself felt minced), with blinding games of light, in the whirlpool of young bodies uncaring for their small spot, an event which will be remembered was created, an event which, in my opinion, Bijelo Dugme accidentally set in motion.

That event was in the air, as a need of one generation of teenagers pinched between existing tepid culture and imperatives of their young nature. The instruments of Bijelo Dugme were only the electric lighter for those explosive masses, which started the run for their mythology, their culture, their values...

The generation which found its Bijelo Dugme will more likely find its Bach than the generation for which Bach is a social norm, which is dressed in its formal suit and locked in its concert chair.

-Veselko Tendžera
March 28, 1976[29]

As Redžić had to leave the band due to his army obligations, a bass guitarist for live performances had to be hired.[30] Kurtalić asked for higher fees, so the new temporary bassist became Formula 4 leader Ljubiša Racić.[30] This lineup of the band went on a large Yugoslav tour.[19] In Sarajevo the band performed in front of 15,000 people and in Belgrade they held three sold out concerts in Pionir Hall, with approximately 6,000 people per concert.[31] On the concerts, the band for the first time introduced a set of several songs performed unplugged.[31] The press coined the term "Dugmemanija" (Buttonmania) and the socialist public went into an argument over the phenomena.[19]

At the beginning of 1976, the band planned to hold a United States tour, however they gave up the idea after the suspicion that the planned concerts were organized by pro-ustaše emigrants from Yugoslavia.[19] The band did go to United States, but only to record the songs "Džambo" ("Jumbo") and "Vatra" ("Fire"), which were released as Ivandić's solo single,[19] and "Milovan" and "Goodbye, Amerika" ("Goodbye, America"), which were released as Bebek's solo single.[19] The records represented the introduction of funk elements to Bijelo Dugme sound.[32] It was during the band's staying in America that Bregović managed to persuade Bebek, Pravdić and Ivandić to sign a waiver, with which they relinquished the rights to the name Bijelo Dugme in favor of Bregović.[33] In June, the band members went to the youth work action Kozara 76, which was Bregović's response to the claims that the band's members were "pro-Western oriented".[19] At the beginning of autumn, Ivandić and Pravdić left the band due to their army obligations.[19] They were replaced by Vukašinović (who, in the meantime, joined Indexi) and Laza Ristovski, whose moving from Smak (at the time Bijelo Dugme's main competitors on the Yugoslav rock scene) saw huge covering in the media.[19]

The band prepared for the recording of their third album in Borike.[19] The album's working title was Sve se dijeli na dvoje, na tvoje i moje (Everything Is Split in Two, Yours and Mine) after Duško Trifunović's poem.[19] Bregović did not manage to write the music on the lyrics (they were later used for the song recorded by Jadranka Stojaković),[19] so he intended to name the album Hoću bar jednom da budem blesav (For Once I Want to Be Crazy), but Jugoton editors did not like this title.[19] The album was eventually titled Eto! Baš hoću! (There! I Will!).[19] The album was once again recorded in London with Harrison as the producer and Bebek playing the bass guitar. It was released on December 20, 1976.[19] The album hits included hard rock-oriented "Izgledala je malo čudno u kaputu žutom krojenom bez veze" ("She Looked a Little Bit Weird in a Yellow Sillymade Coat") and "Dede bona, sjeti se, de tako ti svega" ("Come on, Remember, for God's Sake"), folk-oriented "Slatko li je ljubit' tajno" ("It's So Sweet to Kiss Secretly"), simple tune "Ništa mudro" ("Nothing Clever", featuring lyrics written by Duško Trifunović) and two ballads, symphonic-oriented "Sanjao sam noćas da te nemam" ("I Dreamed Last Night that I Didn't Have You") and simpler "Loše vino" ("Bad Wine", written by Bregović and singer-songwriter Arsen Dedić and originally recorded by singer Zdravko Čolić).[19] In the meantime, Racić asked for higher payment, so he got fired.[19] He was replaced by Sanin Karić, who was at the time a member of Teška Industrija.[19] This lineup of the band went on a Polish tour on which they were announced as "the leading band among young Yugoslav groups". They held nine successful concerts across Poland.[19] After the band's return from Poland, Redžić and Ivandić rejoined them.[34] After leaving Bijelo Dugme, Vukašinović would form the hard rock/heavy metal band Vatreni Poljubac.[35]

The band went on a Yugoslav tour, but experienced problems during it. The clashes within the band were becoming more and more frequent,[34] the concerts were followed by technical difficulties and bad reviews in the press,[36] and the audience was not interested in the band's concerts as it was during previous tours.[34] Three concerts in Belgrade's Pionir Hall, on March 3, 4 and 5, were not well attended, and the second one had to be ended too early after the shock wave from the Vrancea earthquake was felt.[37] The Adriatic coast tour was canceled, as well as concerts in Zagreb and Ljubljana for which the recording of a live album was planned.[34] After four years, Bijelo Dugme saw a decline in popularity and rumors about the band's disbandment appeared in the media.[34]

The band wanted to organize some sort of spectacle to help their decreased popularity.[34] On the idea of journalist Peca Popović, the band decided to hold a free open-air concert at Belgrade's Hajdučka česma on August 28, 1977.[34] Jutro had already performed on this location in 1973, on a concert organized by Pop Mašina.[34] The concert would also be Bijelo Dugme's last concert before the hiatus due to Bregović's army duty.[34] The whole event was organized in only five days.[38] Between 70,000 and 100,000 spectators attended the concert, which was the biggest number of spectators on a rock concert in Yugoslavia until then.[34] After the opening acts — Slađana Milošević, Tako, Zdravo, Džadžo, Suncokret, Ibn Tup and Leb i Sol[38] — Bijelo Dugme played a very successful concert.[34] Despite the fact that the concert was secured by only twelve police officers,[39] there were no larger incidents.[40] Video recordings from the concert appeared in Mića Milošević's film Tit for Tat.[34] Eventually, it was discovered that the recordings could not be used for the live album, as the sound was bad due to technical limitations and the wide open space, so the band, on October 25 of the same year, played a concert in Đuro Janković Hall in Sarajevo, the recording of which was used for the live album Koncert kod Hajdučke česme (The Concert at Hajdučka česma).[34] The only part of the Hajdučka česma concert that appeared on the album were the recordings of the audience's reactions.[34]

After Koncert kod Hajdučke česme was mixed, Bregović went to serve the army in Niš and the band went on hiatus;[34] Melody Maker wrote about Bijelo Dugme's hiatus as about an event "on the edge of national tragedy".[26] Redžić continued to work on the Koncert kod hajdučke česme recordings, and a live version of "Dede, bona, sjeti se, de tako ti svega" was later used as a B-side for the single "Bitanga i princeza" ("The Brute and the Princess"), released in 1979.[34] In June 1978, Bebek released his first solo album, symphonic rock-oriented Skoro da smo isti (We're almost the Same),[34] which saw mostly negative reactions by the critics.[41] During the same year, Ristovski and Ivandić recorded the album Stižemo (Here We Come). The album, featuring lyrics by Ranko Boban, was recorded in London with Leb i Sol leader Vlatko Stefanovski on guitar, Zlatko Hold on bass guitar, and Goran Kovačević and Ivandić's sister Gordana on vocals.[34] They met Bregović during his leave and played him the recordings, believing they could persuade him to let them compose for Bijelo Dugme.[41] After he refused, the two, encouraged by the positive reactions of the critics which had the opportunity to listen to the material, decided to leave Bijelo Dugme.[34][41] However, on September 10, the same day for which the beginning of the promotional tour was scheduled, Ivandić, alongside Goran Kovačević and Ranko Boban, was arrested for owning hashish.[42] Ivandić was sentenced to spend three years in jail (Kovačević was sentenced to year and a half, and Boban to a year).[42] Before he went to serve the sentence, Ivandić went to psychiatric sessions in order to prepare for the life in jail. The psychiatrist he went to see was Radovan Karadžić.[43]

In June 1978, Bregović went to Sarajevo to receive a plaque from the League of Communist Youth of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the behalf of the band.[34] In the autumn of 1978, drummer Điđi Jankelić, who participated in the recording of Bebek's solo album, became Bijelo Dugme's new drummer, and Pravdić returned to the band.[34] Jankelić was previously a member of Formula 4 — the lineup in which he played included both Ljubiša Racić and Jadranko Stanković — Rok, Čisti Zrak and Rezonansa.[44] The band started preparing their new album in Niška Banja‚ but, as Bregović was still serving the army, they definitely reunited in Sarajevo on November 1.[34] The new lineup of the band had their first performance in Skenderija on December 4, 1978.[45]

The band's fourth studio album was recorded in Belgrade and produced by Neil Harrison.[45] Several songs featured symphonic orchestra.[34] The making of the album was followed by censorship. The original cover, designed by Dragan Stefanović and featuring female leg kicking male's genital area, was refused by Jugoton as "vulgar"; instead, the album ended up featuring a cover designed by Jugoton's designer Ivan Ivezić.[34] The verse "Koji mi je moj" ("What the fuck is wrong with me") was excluded from the song "Ala je glupo zaboravit njen broj" ("It's so Stupid to Forget Her Number"), and the verse "A Hrist je bio kopile i jad" ("And Christ was bastard and misery") from the song "Sve će to, mila moja, prekriti ruzmarin, snjegovi i šaš" ("All of That, My Dear, Will Be Covered by Rosemary, Snow and Reed") was replaced with "A on je bio kopile i jad" ("And he was bastard and misery").[34] The album Bitanga i princeza (The Brute and the Princess) was released in March 1979 and praised by the critics as Bijelo Dugme's finest work until then.[34][46] The album did not feature any folk music elements, and brought songs "Bitanga i princeza", "Ala je glupo zaboravit njen broj", "Na zadnjem sjedištu mog auta" ("On the Back Seat of My Car"), "A koliko si ih imala do sad" ("And how Many of Them Have You Had Till Now"), and emotional ballads "Ipak poželim neko pismo" ("Still, I Wish for a Letter"), "Kad zaboraviš juli" ("When You Forget July") and "Sve će to, mila moja, prekriti ruzmarin, snjegovi i šaš", all becoming hits.[34] The album broke all the records held by their previous releases.[34] Twelve days before the promotional tour, Pravdić had a car accident in which he broke his clavicle, so he performed on the initial several concerts using only one hand.[47] The tour, however, was highly successful.[34] The band managed to sell out Pionir Hall five times, dedicating all the money earned from these concerts (about 100,000 dollars) to the victims of the 1979 Montenegro earthquake.[48] On some of the concerts they were followed by Branko Krsmanović Choir and a symphonic orchestra.[34] On September 22, the band organized a concert under the name Rock spektakl '79. (Rock Spectacle 79) on JNA Stadium, with themselves as the headliners. The concert featured numerous opening acts: Crni Petak, Kilo i Po, Rok Apoteka, Kako, Mama Rock, Formula 4, Peta Rijeka, Čisti Zrak, Aerodrom, Opus, Senad od Bosne, Boomerang, Prva Ljubav, Revolver, Prljavo Kazalište, Tomaž Domicelj, Metak, Obećanje Proljeća, Suncokret, Parni Valjak, Generacija 5 and Siluete.[49] More than 70,000 people attended the concert.[34]

At the time, Bregović wrote film music for the first time, for Aleksandar Mandić's film Personal Affairs, and the songs "Pristao sam biću sve što hoće" ("I Accepted to Be Anything They Want", with lyrics written by Duško Trifunović) and "Šta je tu je" ("Is What It Is") were recorded by Bijelo Dugme and released on a single record.[34] During 1980, Bregović spent some time in Paris, and the band was on hiatus.[34]

Doživjeti stotu: Switch to new wave (1980–82)

At the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s, the Yugoslav rock scene saw the emergence of the great number of new wave bands, closely associated to the Yugoslav punk rock scene. Bregović was fascinated with the new scene, especially by the works of Azra and Prljavo Kazalište.[50] During 1980, Bijelo Dugme decided to move towards new sound.[51]

In December 1980, Bijelo Dugme released new wave-influenced album Doživjeti stotu (Live to Be 100).[34] This was the first Bijelo Dugme album produced by Bregović.[34] Unlike the songs from the band's previous albums, which were prepared much before the album recording, most of the songs from Doživjeti stotu were created during the recording sessions.[52] As the recordings had to be finished before the scheduled mastering in London, Bregović had to use cocaine to stay awake, writing the lyrics in the nick of time.[53] The saxophone on the recording was played by jazz musician Jovan Maljoković and avant-garde musician Paul Pignon.[54] From the songs on Doživjeti stotu, only the new version of "Pristao sam biću sve što hoće" and "Pjesma mom mlađem bratu" ("The Song for My Little Brother") resembled Bijelo Dugme's old sound.[34] The songs "Ha ha ha" and "Tramvaj kreće (ili kako biti heroj u ova šugava vremena)" ("Streetcar Is Leaving (or How to Be a Hero in These Lousy Times)") were the first Bijelo Dugme songs to feature political-related lyrics.[34] The provocative cover designed by Mirko Ilić, an artist closely associated with Yugoslav new wave scene, appeared in three versions.[34] In accordance with their shift towards new wave, the band changed their hard rock style: the members cut their hair short, and the frontman Željko Bebek shaved his trademark mustache.[55] Due to new sound, the album was met with a lot of skepticism, but most of the critics ended up praising the album.[55] At the end of 1980, the readers of Džuboks magazine polled Bijelo Dugme the Band of the Year, Bebek the Singer of the Year, the Pravdić the Keyboardist of the Year, Jankelić the Drummer of the Year, Redžić the Bass Guitarist of the Year, Bregović the Composer, the Lyricist, the Producer and the Arranger of the Year, Doživjeti stotu the Album of the Year, and Doživjeti stotu cover the Album Cover of the Year.[55]

The band started their Yugoslav tour on February 24, 1981 of the following year, with a concert in Sarajevo, and ended it with a concert in the club Kulušić in Zagreb, on which they recorded their second live album, 5. april '81 (April 5, 1981).[34] The album, featuring a cover of Indexi song "Sve ove godine" ("All These Years"), was released in a limited number of 20,000 copies.[34] Bijelo Dugme performed in Belgrade several times during the tour: after two concerts in Pionir Hall, they performed, alongside Iron Maiden, Atomsko Sklonište, Divlje Jagode, Film, Aerodrom, Slađana Milošević, Siluete, Haustor, Kontraritam and other acts, on the two-day festival Svi marš na ples! (Everybody Dance Now!) held at Belgrade Hippodrome,[34] and during the New Year holidays they held three concerts in Hala Pinki together with Indexi.[56] In early 1982, Bijelo Dugme performed in Innsbruck, Austria, at a manifestation conceptualized as a symbolic passing of the torch whereby the Winter Olympic Games last host city (Innsbruck) makes a handover to the next one (Sarajevo).[34] On their return to Yugoslavia, the band's equipment was seized by the customs, as it was discovered that they had put new equipment into old boxes.[34] The band's record label, Jugoton decided to lend 150,000,000 Yugoslav dinars to Bijelo Dugme, in order to pay the penalty.[34] In order to regain part of the money as soon as possible, Jugoton decided to release two compilation albums, Singl ploče (1974-1975) and Singl ploče (1976-1980).[34] To recover financially, during July and August 1982, the band went on a Bulgarian tour, during which they held forty one concerts.[57] As Jankelić went to serve the army in April, on this tour the drums were played by former Leb i Sol drummer Garabet Tavitjan.[57] At the end of 1982, the media published that Bregović was excluded from the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, with the explanation that he did not attend the meetings of the League in his local community.[56] However, due to the growing liberalization, this event did not affect Bregović's and the band's career.[57]

At the end of 1982, Ivandić was released from prison and was approached to rejoin the band. With his return to the band, Bijelo Dugme's default lineup reunited.[58]

After Doživjeti stotu, Bebek's departure (1983–84)

At the beginning of 1983, Bijelo Dugme recorded a children's music album ...a milicija trenira strogoću! (i druge pjesmice za djecu) (...and Police Trains Strictness! (and Other Songs for Children)). The lyrics for the album were written by Duško Trifunović.[57] It was initially planned Seid Memić "Vajta" to sing, but eventually, vocals were recorded by the eleven-year-old Ratimir Boršić Rača, and the album was released under Ratimir Boršić Rača & Bijelo Dugme moniker.[57]

In February 1983, the band released the album Uspavanka za Radmilu M. (Lullaby for Radmila M.).[57] Bregović intended to release Uspavanka za Radmilu M. as Bijelo Dugme's farewell album and to dismiss the band after the tour.[57] The album was recorded in Skopje and featured Vlatko Stefanovski (guitar), Blagoje Morotov (double bass) and Arsen Ereš (saxophone) as guest musicians.[57] The songs "Ako možeš zaboravi" ("Forget, if You Can"), "U vrijeme otkazanih letova" ("In the Time of Canceled Flights"), "Polubauk polukruži poluevropom" ("Half-Spectre is Half-Haunting Half-Europe", the title referring to the first sentence of The Communist Manifesto) and "Ovaj ples dame biraju" ("Ladies' Choice") featured diverse sound, illustrating various fazes in the band's career.[57] The album's title track is the only instrumental track Bijelo Dugme ever recorded.[57] Unlike the band's previous album, Uspavanka za Radmilu M. was not followed by a large promotion in the media.[59] The release of the album was followed by the release of the videotape cassette Uspavanka za Radmilu M., which featured videos for all the songs from the album. It was the first project of the kind in the history of Yugoslav rock music.[60] The videos were directed by Boris Miljković and Branimir Dimitrijević "Tucko".[61] The video for the song "Ovaj ples dame biraju" was the first gay-themed video in Yugoslavia.[61]

The song "Kosovska" ("Kosovo Song") featured Albanian language lyrics.[57] Written during delicate political situation in Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo, the song represented Bregović's effort to integrate the culture of Kosovo Albanians into Yugoslav rock music.[62] Although lyrics were simple, dealing with rock music, the song caused certain controversies.[57][62]

Uspavanka za Radmilu M. did not bring numerous hits as the band's previous releases, however, the tour was very successful, and the audience's response made Bregović change his mind about dismissing the band.[57] After the tour, Bijelo Dugme went on a hiatus and Bebek recorded his second solo album, Mene tjera neki vrag (Something Wicked Makes Me Do It).[57] His last concert with Bijelo Dugme was on February 13, 1984, in Sarajevo Olympic Village.[57] Unsatisfied with his share of the profit in Bijelo Dugme, he decided to leave the band and dedicate himself to his solo career.[63] He left Bijelo Dugme in April 1984.[57] For a certain period of time, Bebek's backing band would feature Jankelić on drums.[64]

Mladen Vojičić "Tifa" years (1984–86)

Members of Bijelo Dugme and Bajaga i Instruktori together in Moscow in 1985.

After Bebek's departure, Alen Islamović, vocalist for the heavy metal band Divlje Jagode, was approached to join the band, but he refused fearing that Bebek might decide to return.[57] Eventually, the new Bijelo Dugme singer became then relatively unknown Mladen Vojičić "Tifa", a former Top and Teška Industrija member.[57] The band spent summer in Rovinj, where they held small performances in Monvi tourist centre, preparing for the upcoming album recording.[65] At the time, Ivandić started working with the synthpop band Amila, whose frontess Amila Sulejmanović often performed as a backing vocalist on Bijelo Dugme concerts.[57]

At the time Bregović, with singer Zdravko Čolić, formed Slovenia-based record label Kamarad, which co-released Bijelo Dugme's new album with Diskoton.[57] The album was released in December 1984, entitled simply Bijelo Dugme, but is, as the cover featured Uroš Predić's painting Kosovo Maiden, also unofficially known as Kosovka djevojka (Kosovo Maiden).[57] The album featured both Ristovski and Pravdić on keyboards, and, after the album recording, Ristovski became an official member of the band once again.[57] Bijelo Dugme featured folk-oriented pop rock sound which had, alongside a cover of Yugoslav anthem "Hej, Sloveni" featured on the album, influenced a great number of bands from Sarajevo, labeled as New Partisans.[57] The album featured a new version of "Šta ću nano dragi mi je ljut" ("What Can I Do, Mom, My Darling Is Angry"), written by Bregović and originally recorded by Bisera Veletanlić, Bijelo Dugme version entitled "Lipe cvatu, sve je isto k'o i lani" ("Linden Trees Are in Bloom, Everything's just like It Used to Be"), which became the album's biggest hit.[57] Other hits included "Padaju zvijezde" ("The Stars Are Falling"), "Lažeš" ("You're Lying"), "Da te bogdo ne volim" ("If I Could Only Not Love You") and "Jer kad ostariš" ("Because, When You Grow Old").[57] The song "Pediculis pubis" (misspelling of "Pediculosis pubis") featured Bora Đorđević, the leader of Bijelo Dugme's main competitors at the time, Riblja Čorba, on vocals; he co-wrote the song with Bregović and sung it with Bregović and Vojičić.[57] The album also featured Radio Television of Skopje Folk Instruments Orchestra, folk group Ladarice on backing vocals, Pece Atanasovski on gaida and Sonja Beran-Leskovšek on harp.[66]

The album was sold in more that 420,000 copies.[67] The tour was also very successful.[57] The band held a successful concert at Belgrade Fair in front of some 27,000 people (which was, up to that point, the biggest number of spectators in an indoor concert in Belgrade),[68] but also performed in clubs on several occasions.[57] The stylized army uniform in whIch the members of the band appeared on stage and the large red star from Kamarad logo were partially inspired by the works of Laibach.[69] In the summer of 1985, Bijelo Dugme, alongside Bajaga i Instruktori, represented Yugoslavia at the World Festival of Youth and Students held in Moscow.[57] The two bands should have held their first concert on July 28 in Gorky Park.[70] The soundcheck, during which Yugoslav tehnicians played Bruce Springsteen and Pink Floyd songs, attracted some 100,000 people to the location.[71] Bajaga i Instruktori opened the concert, however, after some time, the police started to beat ecstatic audience, and the concert was interrupted by the Soviet officials, so Bijelo Dugme did not have to opportunity to go out on the stage.[72] Fearing new riots, the Moscow authorities scheduled the second concert in Dinamo Hall, and the third one in the Moscow Green Theatre. The first one, held on July 30, was attended by about 2,000 uninterested factory workers, and the second one, held on August 2, by about 10,000 young activists with special passes.[72]

The concerts in Moscow were Vojičić's last performances with the band. Under the pressure of professional obligations, sudden fame and media scandal in which it was discovered that he uses LSD, he decided to leave the band.[57] After leaving Bijelo Dugme, Vojičić would first go on a tour with Željko Bebek and the band Armija B, then he would join Vukašinović's band Vatreni Poljubac, then heavy metal band Divlje Jagode (whose singer Alen Islamović replaced him in Bijelo Dugme), and eventually start a solo career.[57]

Alen Islamović years and disbandment (1986–89)

The last Bijelo Dugme lineup, from left to right: Vlado Pravdić, Ipe Ivandić, Goran Bregović, Alen Islamović, Zoran Redžić and Laza Ristovski

After Vojičić's departure, Alen Islamović was once again approached to join the band. At the time, Islamović's band Divlje Jagode were based in London, working on their international career. Doubting the success of their efforts, Islamović left them and joined Bijelo Dugme.[57]

The new album, Pljuni i zapjevaj moja Jugoslavijo (Spit and Sing, My Yugoslavia), was released in 1986. Inspired by Yugoslavism, with numerous references to Yugoslav unity and the lyrics on the inner sleeve printed in both Cyrillic and Latin alphabets, the album featured the familiar folk-oriented pop rock sound.[57] Bregović wanted to gather representatives of opposing political views to appear on the album: Vice Vukov, pop singer branded for being a Croatian nationalist, painter Mića Popović, a dissident at the time, and Koča Popović, a World War II hero.[73] Vukov, who should have sung the ballad "Ružica si bila, sada više nisi" ("You Were Once a Rose"), was willing to participate, however, the band's manager Raka Marić was, upon his return to Sarajevo from Zagreb, where he met Vukov, arrested and interrogated by the police.[73] Mića Popović, whose painting Dve godine garancije (A Two-Year Warranty) should have appeared on the album cover, was also willing to participate, but warned Bregović of possible problems.[73] Koča Popović liked the idea, but refused the invitation.[73] Eventually, under the pressure of Diskoton, Bregović gave up on his original idea.[74] A World War II hero did appeare on the record, but, instead of Koča Popović, it was Svetozar Vukmanović Tempo. He, together with Bregović and children from the Sarajevo orphanage Ljubica Ivezić, sung in a cover of old revolutionary song "Padaj silo i nepravdo" ("Fall, (Oh) Force and Injustice").[57] The album cover featured a photograph of Chinese social realist ballet.[74] Vukmanović's appearance on the album was described by The Guardian as "some sort of Bregović's coup d'état".[57] The album's main hits were pop song "Hajdemo u planine" ("Let's Go to the Mountains"), "Noćas je k'o lubenica pun mjesec iznad Bosne" ("Tonight a Moon Full like a Watermelon Is over Bosnia"), ballads "Te noći kad umrem, kad odem, kad me ne bude" ("That Night, When I Die, When I Leave, When I'm Gone") and "Ružica si bila, sada više nisi".[57] In 1987, Belgrade rock journalist Dragan Kremer, in the show Mit mjeseca (Myth of the Month) on the RTV Sarajevo, expressing his opinion about the band's new direction, tore the album cover, and made Bregović (who also appeared in the show) angry, which was one of the larger media scandals of the time.[57] The incident however, did not affect the album sales. The tour was also very successful, and the concert at Belgrade Fair featured opera singer Dubravka Zubović as guest.[57]

The double live album Mramor, kamen i željezo (Marble, Stone and Iron), recorded on the tour and produced by Redžić, was released in 1987.[57] The title song was a cover of an old hit by the Yugoslav beat band Roboti.[57] The album offered a retrospective of the band's work, featuring songs from their first singles to their latest album.[57] The album featured similar Yugoslavist iconography as the bands' previous two releases: the track "A milicija trenira strogoću" begins with "The Internationale" melody, during the intro to "Svi marš na ples" Islamović shouts "Bratsvo! Jedinstvo!" ("Brotherhood! Unity!"),[57] and the album cover features a photograph from the 5th Congress of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia.[75] Mramor, kamen i željezo was the band's last album to feature Vlado Pravdić. He left the band after the album release, dedicating himself to business with computers.[76] However, he continued to occasionally perform with the band, on larger concerts,[76] and was, until the end of the band's activity, still considered an official member.[77][78]

At the end of 1988, the album Ćiribiribela was released.[76] Recorded during the political crisis in Yugoslavia, the album was marked by Bregović's pacifist efforts: the album cover featured Edward Hicks' painting Noah's Ark on the cover, the song "Lijepa naša" ("Our Beautiful") featured the national anthem of Croatia "Lijepa naša domovino" ("Our Beautiful Homeland") combined with the Serbian traditional World War I song "Tamo daleko" ("There, Far Away"),[76] and the title track featured lyrics about a love couple which decides to "stay at home and kiss" if the war starts.[79] The album's biggest hit was "Đurđevdan je, a ja nisam s onom koju volim" ("It's St. George's Day, and I'm Not with the One I Love'"), based on traditional Romani song "Ederlezi" and featuring Fejat Sejdić Trumpet Orchestra.[76] Other hits included "Evo zakleću se" ("Here, I'll Make A Vow"), "Ako ima Boga" ("If There Is God"), "Šta ima novo" ("What's New"), "Nakon svih ovih godina" ("After All These Years"), pop-influenced "Napile se ulice" ("The Streets Are Drunk") and Dalmatian folk music-inspired "Ćirbiribela".[76] After the album release, Radio-Television Belgrade wanted to make a video for the song "Đurđevdan je, a ja nisam s onom koju volim". The original idea was for the video to feature iconography inspired by the Serbian Army in World War I.[80] The video was recorded in the village Koraćica in Central Serbia.[80] The band came to the recording not knowing anything about the video concept.[81] They should have worn uniforms (without any insignia) and old weapons, but Islamović thought the idea was too "pro-war", so refused to wear a uniform.[81] Eventually, the band and the director reached an agreement: everyone, except Islamović, wore Serbian traditional costumes, with only several of the original props used.[82] However, after the video was recorded, the Radio-Television Belgrade editors themselves decided not to emit it, fearing it might remind of the Chetnik movement.[82]

At the beginning of 1989, the band went on a tour which should have lasted until April 1.[76] The concert in Belgrade, held in Belgrade Fair on February 4, was attended by about 13,000 people.[83] The concert featured Dubravka Zubović, the First Singing Society of Belgrade, the Fejat Sejdić Trumpet Orchestra and klapa Trogir.[83] The concert in Sarajevo's Zetra, held on February 11, was also very successful; it was attended by more than 20,000 people.[83] However, on some concerts in Croatia, the audience booed and threw various objects on stage when the band performed their pro-Yugoslav songs.[83]

After the concert in Modriča, held on March 15, with four concerts left until the end of the tour, Islamović checked into a hospital with kidney pains.[84] This event revealed the existing conflicts inside the band: Bregović claimed that Islamović had no problems during the tour,[84] while the band's manager, Raka Marić, stated that Bijelo Dugme would search for a new singer for the planned concerts in China and Soviet Union.[85] Bregović went to Paris, leaving Bijelo Dugme's status opened for speculations.[76] In 1990, the compilation album Nakon svih ovih godina, which featured recordings made between 1984 and 1989, was released.[76] As Yugoslav Wars broke out in 1991, it became clear that Bijelo Dugme will not continue their activity.[76]


Bregović continued his career as a film music composer, cooperating mostly with Emir Kusturica.[76] Redžić moved to Finland, where he worked as a producer, and after the Bosnian War ended, he returned to Sarajevo, where he opened a rock club.[76] After the war broke out, Ivandić went to Belgrade, where he, in 1994, died after falling from the sixth floor of the building in which he lived; the death was believed to be a suicide.[86] Ristovski continued to record solo albums, work as a studio musician, and during the 1990s he performed with Osvajači and Smak.[76] Islamović, who recorded his first solo album Haj, nek se čuje, haj nek se zna in 1989, started a semi-successful solo career.[76]

In 1994, the double compilation album Ima neka tajna veza (There's Some Secret Connection), featuring Dragan Malešević Tapi's painting Radost bankrota (The Joy of Bankruptcy) on the cover, was released.[76]

2005 reunion

Bregović, who during the 1990s became one of the most internationally known modern composers of the Balkans, on numerous occasions stated that he will not reunite Bijelo Dugme.[76] However, in 2005, Bijelo Dugme reunited, with Goran Bregović on guitar, Željko Bebek, Mladen Vojičić and Alen Islamović on vocals, Zoran Redžić on bass guitar, Milić Vukašinović and Điđi Jankelić on drums and Vlado Pravdić and Laza Ristovski on keyboards.[76] The reunion saw huge media attention in all former Yugoslav republics,[87] followed by various forms of yugonostalgia.[88]

The band held only three concerts: in Sarajevo, at Koševo stadium, Zagreb, at Maksimir stadium, and Belgrade, at Belgrade Hippodrome.[76] The concerts featured a string orchestra, a brass band, klapa Nostalgija and two female singers from Bregovć's Weddings and Funerals Orchestra.[89] During the concerts, Bregović, Redžić, Pravdić and Ristovski performed for the whole time, Vukašinović played the drums during Bebek's part of the concert, while Janković played during Vojičić's and Islamović's part.[90] Islamović opened the concerts in Sarajevo and Zagreb, and Vojičić opened the concert in Belgrade. Bebek sung third on all three concerts.[90] The concerts also featured an unplugged section, during which Bregović and Bebek played guitars and all three singers performed.[90] The concert in Sarajevo attracted about 60,000 people,[91] and the concert in Zagreb was attended by more than 70,000 people.[92] For the concert in Belgrade, more than 220,000 tickets were sold, but it was later estimated that it was attended by more that 250,000 people.[91] However, the concert in Belgrade was much criticized because of the bad sound.[76][91] The live album Turneja 2005: Sarajevo, Zagreb, Beograd (2005 Tour - Sarajevo, Zagreb, Belgrade) recorded on the tour was released.[76]


Ristovski died in Belgrade on October 6, 2007, following years of battle with multiple sclerosis.[93]

In 2014, Raka Marić made an attempt to reunite Bijelo Dugme once again in order to mark the band's 40th anniversary, but the agreement could not be reached, despite the fact the members were interested in a new reunion.[94] Eventually, Bregović marked 40 years since the formation of the band and the release of their debut album with a series of concerts with his Weddings and Funerals Orchestra, featuring Islamović as vocalist.[94] In order to mark the anniversary, Croatia Records released a box set entitled Box Set Deluxe. The box set, released in a limited number of 1,000 copies, features remastered vinyl editions of all studio albums, and the reissue of the band's first 7" single as bonus.[95]

Influence and legacy

Bijelo Dugme is the most important phenomenon in the last quarter of the 20th century in Yugoslav culture. In a socialist culture, which shyly searched for its path outside of determined framework of values, they were a phenomenon of overturning importance. They promoted the necessity of talent, the exigency of authenticity, the importance of attitude, the need for complete dedication, the high level of professionalism and the modern package. They were the biggest mass concept of Yugoslavia and the first mass concept not financed by the state. During their entire career, they had the endless love of the audience, the constant envy of their colleagues and divided sympathy of the establishment.

They defined rock culture and defined teenagers as an organised category. They fought for the freedom of taste, by then unimaginable in socialism, and won. They were one of the rare capitalist establishments in former Yugoslavia and the best advertiser of freedoms in Yugoslavia. They lived and worked in accordance to all the attributes of the Western rock culture. There was everything present in all big biographies of rock: big numbers, the euphoria of fans, all the vices (especially sex) except gambling, the inexplicable circumstances and tragic deaths. It is believed that they are the only ones in Yugoslavia who made big money from rock music. They set new standards in the entertainment industry and kept lifting them up. They fulfilled all the dreams of Yugoslav scene — except one: they did not step out on the world stage side by side with the biggest stars of the time, although they had the capacity to do that. Bijelo Dugme was maybe the biggest collateral damage of the Cold War when it comes to music: they couldn't go neither to the East, neither to the West. Then again, Bijelo Dugme is the only proof that the classic rock 'n' roll career is possible outside of English language.

-Dušan Vesić in 2014[96]

Bijelo Dugme is generally considered to have been the most popular act ever to appear in SFR Yugoslavia and its successor countries, inspiring many artists from different musical genres. The musicians that were, in their own words, influenced by Bijelo Dugme include guitarist and leader of Prljavo Kazalište Jasenko Houra,[97] singer and former Bulevar and Bajaga i Instruktori member Dejan Cukić,[98] guitarist and former leader of KUD Idijoti Aleksandar "Sale Veruda" Milovanović,[99] singer and former Merlin leader Dino Merlin,[100] and others. The acts that reorded covers of Bijelo Dugme songs include Aska,[101] Srđan Marjanović,[102] Regina,[103] Revolveri,[104] Prljavi Inspektor Blaža i Kljunovi,[105] Viktorija,[106] Sokoli,[76] Massimo Savić,[107] Vasko Serafimov,[108] Zoran Predin and Matija Dedić,[109] Branimir "Džoni" Štulić,[110] Teška Industrija[111] and others. The song "Ima neka tajna veza" was performed by Joan Baez on her 2014 concerts in Belgrade and Zagreb.[112] The band's work has been parodied by Paraf,[113] Gustafi,[114] Rambo Amadeus,[115] S.A.R.S., and others.

There were several books written about the band: Istina o Bijelom dugmetu (The Truth about Bijelo Dugme, 1977) by Danilo Štrbac, Bijelo Dugme (1980) by Duško Pavlović, Ništa mudro (1981) by Darko Glavan and Dražen Vrdoljak, Lopuže koje nisu uhvatili (Rascals That Weren't Caught, 1985) by Dušan Vesić, Bijelo Dugme (2005) by Asir Misirlić, Bijelo Dugme - Doživjeti stotu (2005) by Zvonimir Krstulović, Kad bi bio bijelo dugme (2005) by Nenad Stevović, Kad sam bio bijelo dugme (When I Was a White Button, 2005) by Ljubiša Stavrić and Vladimir Sudar[76] and Šta bi dao da si na mom mjestu (2014) by Dušan Vesić.[116]

In 1994, Radio Television of Serbia aired a four-part documentary about the band entitled Nakon svih ovih godina.[76] In 2010, Igor Stoimenov directed a documentary about the band, entitled simply Bijelo Dugme.[117]

The book YU 100: najbolji albumi jugoslovenske rok i pop muzike (YU 100: The Best albums of Yugoslav pop and rock music), published in 1998, features eight Bijelo Dugme albums: Bitanga i princeza (polled No. 10), Kad bi bio bijelo dugme (polled No. 14), Šta bi dao da si na mom mjestu (polled No. 17), Bijelo Dugme (polled No. 28), Eto! Baš hoću! (polled No. 31), Doživjeti stotu (polled No. 35), Pljuni i zapjevaj moja Jugoslavijo (polled No. 53), and Koncert kod Hajdučke česme (polled No. 74).[118] The list of 100 greatest Yugoslav album, published by Croatian edition of Rolling Stone in 2015, features three Bijelo Dugme albums, Bitanga i princeza (ranked No. 15),[119] Eto! Baš hoću! (ranked No. 36)[120] and Šta bi dao da si na mom mjestu (ranked No. 42).[121] In 1987, in YU legende uživo (YU Legends Live), a special publication by Rock magazine, 5. april '81 was pronounced one of 12 best Yugoslav live albums.[122]

The Rock Express Top 100 Yugoslav Rock Songs of All Times list features eight songs by Bijelo Dugme: "Lipe cvatu" (polled No.10), "Bitanga i princeza" (polled No.14), "Sve će to, mila moja, prekriti ruzmarin, snjegovi i šaš" (polled No.17), "Sanjao sam noćas da te nemam" (polled No.31), "Ima neka tajna veza" (No.38), "Šta bi dao da si na mom mjestu" (polled No.68), "Za Esmu" ("For Esma", polled No.78) and "Kad bi' bio bijelo dugme" (polled No.97).[123] The B92 Top 100 Yugoslav songs list features three songs by Bijelo Dugme: "Sve će to, mila moja, prekriti ruzmarin, snjegovi i šaš" (polled No. 14), "Loše vino" (polled No. 32) and "Ako možeš zaboravi (polled No. 51).[124] In 2011, the song "Meni se ne spava" ("I Don't Feel like Sleeping") was voted, by the listeners of Radio 202, one of 60 greatest songs released by PGP-RTB/PGP-RTS during the sixty years of the label's existence.[125]

The lyrics of 10 songs by the band (8 written by Bregović and 2 witten by Trifunović) were featured in Petar Janjatović's book Pesme bratstva, detinjstva & potomstva: Antologija ex YU rok poezije 1967 - 2007 (Songs of Brotherhood, Childhood & Offspring: Anthology of Ex YU Rock Poetry 1967 - 2007).[126]

In 2016, Serbian weekly news magazine Nedeljnik pronounced Goran Bregović one of 100 people that changed Serbia forever.[127]


Touring musicians


Zoran Redžić Zoran Redžić Laza Ristovski Vlado Pravdić Milić Vukašinović Ipe Ivandić Alen Islamović Tifa (musician) Željko Bebek Goran Bregović



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