Rambo Amadeus (Cyrillic: Рамбо Амадеус, born June 14, 1963 in Kotor, Montenegro, former Yugoslavia) is the stage name of the Belgrade-based Montenegrin singer-songwriter Antonije Pušić, popular all over the former Yugoslavia. A self-titled "musician, poet, and media manipulator" continues to be one of the most interesting phenomena on music scene(s) of the former Yugoslavia.
His songs combine satirical lyrics on the nature of common people and silliness of local politics. He uses a mixture of musical styles including jazz and Rock (converging towards drum and bass lately), and self-conscious ironic wit (for example, one of his aliases is "Rambo Amadeus Svjetski Mega Car" (RASMC) — "Rambo Amadeus World Mega Tzar"). His stage name itself is made from John Rambo and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Known also as a "charming king of jovial pop", his concerts are never mere repetitions of recorded songs, but a mixture of musical improvisation and humor exploiting all aspects of human nature in a crude manner. Some fans compare his style and career path with those of Frank Zappa or Captain Beefheart.
He is a graduate of the University of Belgrade's Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences and he also completed six grades of elementary music school for piano before dropping out.
Before taking up music as a career choice, Rambo was an accomplished competitive sailor. Between 1972 and 1984, he represented Yugoslavia in numerous international regattas. During this period he was champion of Montenegro several times, an 8-time South-Adriatic champion, national title winner in the junior category, as well as International Đerdap Cup winner in 1980. He still occasionally attends and participates in some recreational sailing regattas in the Gulf of Kotor.
He began to sing and compose during first year of high school (gymnasium) which soon led to involvement with various local bands in Herceg Novi and Titograd. One of his first performances saw him play the mandolin in an orchestra that entertained guests of Herceg Novi's Plaza hotel.
In 1985, he moved to Belgrade in pursuit of higher education. Parallel to his university studies, he also played with various amateur bands and musicians.
In 1988 he dropped onto the music scene right out of nowhere with a debut album "O tugo jesenja". His sound was a seemingly coarse blend of folkish ululations and even opera, further mixed in with humorous lyrics and classic guitar riffs. Since very few people had any prior knowledge of him, Rambo delighted in creating confusion by introducing himself as Nagib Fazlić Nagon, mine shaft operator who saved up enough money to record an album. He referred to his own musical style as turbo folk, long before the term would obtain grave social connotations and come to symbolize moral and cultural decline throughout the Balkans during the wars of the 1990s.
In reality, it was actually thanks to producer Saša Habić that Rambo got the opportunity to sign for the state television's record company PGP RTB (Rambo later wrote an anecdotal tribute to that event, in the hit song "Balkan boy"). Habić also played the synthesizer on this album, from which a track named "Vanzemaljac" (Extraterrestrial) continues to be very popular to this day. The record's sales weren't particularly high, but Rambo certainly created enough of a buzz to be able to remain active on the scene.
Next album "Hoćemo gusle" came out in 1989 and gave a small taste of much of Rambo's future musical direction - overt political activism. The track "Amerika i Engleska (biće zemlja proleterska)" was originally supposed to be named "Kataklizma komunizma" (Cataclysm of Communism) but powers that be wouldn't allow it. The album title pokes fun at a bizarre event from the 1989 protests in Montenegro that eventually grew into the anti-bureaucratic revolution that swept Milo Đukanović, Momir Bulatović, and Svetozar Marović into power. Protesters were heard chanting "Hoćemo Ruse" ("We want the Russians"), but when the authorities and state-controlled media criticized them for it, many quickly began backpedaling by claiming they actually chanted "Hoćemo gusle" ("We want gusle").
Other songs like "Glupi hit" and afore mentioned "Balkan boy" would also become considerable hits and Rambo even received solid critical acclaim for chances he took in "Samit u buregdžinici Laibach". On that track, he created a catchy hybrid by mixing pretentiously heavy sound of Laibach with poetry of Laza Kostić and Desanka Maksimović, as well as with folk "kafana" standard "Čaše lomim" and his own turbo-poetry. Album sleeve lists the lyrics of a song that wasn't actually recorded and explains that "it was dropped at the last moment because there was no room for it" but gives assurances it would appear on the next album. Since the song in question, named "Pegepe ertebe", was all about taking shots at Rambo's label PGP RTB it isn't surprising that it didn't appear on the next, or any subsequent album for that matter.
As the 1990s were beginning, Rambo was growing into an established performer. His third album "M-91" came out towards the end of 1991 at a time when the conflict across former Yugoslavia was already in full swing. For obvious reasons, the least of which was the album's subtitle - "Psychological Propaganda Set", many songs contained heavy lyrics and a dark, militaristic atmosphere. In your face profanity and descriptive cursing was also par for the course, making this the first major music release in former Yugoslavia to take such narrative liberties. Tracks like "Smrt popa Mila Jovovića" (30-year old poem by Božo Đuranović), "Jemo voli jem" (incorporating samples from Yugoslav aviators' anthem "Hej vojnici vazduhoplovci" as well as Šemsa Suljaković's "Izgubila sve sam bitke"), "Inspektor Nagib" and "Zdravo damo" became instant hits.
The discrepancy between what's listed on the cover and what is actually recorded is there again as sleeve announces the track called "KPGS" which would, this time for real, appear on the next live album, but does not list "Halid invalid Hari" and "Prijatelju, prijatelju" which were included and became big hits. Many consider the two tracks to be classic Rambo: observant, opinionated, direct and profane. The latter of the two originally included excerpts from Slobodan Milošević and Franjo Tuđman speeches, but the record company censors took them out.
This album further solidified Rambo's presence on the scene as he started playing bigger arenas like Sava centar. Due to outspoken and entertaining nature he would often get invited on various TV and radio outlets across the country.
Trying to take the new situation in stride, he hit the road, becoming one of the first performers from FR Yugoslavia to regularly start touring Macedonia and Slovenia in the years following those states' declarations of independence.
After live album "KPGS" (taped on December 29, 1992 in Skopje) that included new studio track "Karamba karambita" followed by a greatest hits compilation "Izabrana dela 1989–1994", Rambo recorded peculiar new material during July 1995 in Paris with Goran Vejvoda. Released the following year as "Mikroorganizmi", it featured inaccessible, moody sound garnered with terse, experimental lyrics marking a sizable departure from his usual antics.
He simultaneously released "Muzika za decu", personal musical take on Ljubivoje Ršumović's poetry featuring two bonus new tracks - "Sex" and "ABVGD".
Old-school Rambo fans did not have to wait long for a return to earlier style. Towards the end of 1996, on "Titanik" he delivered a new batch of traditional fare like "Šakom u glavu", "Sado-mazo", "Zreo za penziju" and "Otiš'o je svak ko valja" (dedicated to Toma Zdravković and members of Šarlo Akrobata). Seasoned musicians like Ognjan Radivojević (later to perform with Goran Bregović and Zdravko Čolić), Goran Ljuboja, Dragan Markovski and Marija Mihajlović took part in recording sessions for this album.
Extensive tour followed and it again included Slovenia (live album was recorded over two Ljubljana concerts in April 1997 and later released as "R.A. u KUD France Prešern"), as well as Bosnia where Rambo appeared as a guest at Sejo Sexon's Zabranjeno pušenje gig in Sarajevo. That appearance in December 1997 was the first post-war visit by a Serbian-Montenegrin performer to the Muslim part of Bosnia.
On June 9, 1998, Rambo played Belgrade's Dom sindikata hall in what he announced to be the farewell performance before retirement. Even if many doubted his sincerity, the concert was a memorable one. Soon, Rambo packed his bags and left for the Netherlands, though not before squeezing in two more shows in Bosnia. In the Netherlands, he worked a series of menial jobs including construction, before deciding to return to Belgrade after only 4 months abroad. Back home, not surprisingly, he also returned to music and continued to break down inter-ethnic barriers: on December 10, 1998, he and Margita Stefanović played a show in Pula at the local cinema with KUD Idijoti, which was a first opportunity since the war for a Croatian audience to see performers from Serbia and Montenegro.
Throughout the year 2000, Rambo worked on what would eventually become the "Don't Happy, Be Worry" album. This album included the song "Laganese" in which sampled the Norwegian journalist Åsne Seierstad singing the Norwegian Folk song "Eg rodde meg ut på seiegrunnen" and swearing. By this time, sampling and local pop-cultural references became two more staples of his sound, and this material, too, was heavy on both. Produced by Iztok Turk, it featured tracks like "Čoban je upravo napustio zgradu" (loose cover of Neda Ukraden's "Zora je svanula"), "Moj skutere" that borrows from Oliver Dragojević's "Moj galebe", and "Izađite molim" with sprinkled in dialogues from Goran Marković's 1975 movie "Variola vera".
In 2004, Rambo released his third live album "Bolje jedno vruće pivo nego četri ladna", which was followed by the studio album "Oprem dobro" in mid-2005.
He made a song "Dikh tu kava" in collaboration with ethno-jazz fusion band Kal, and in 2007 he appeared on their album as a featured artist in the song "Komedija" ("Comedy").
He gave us another extraordinary performance called "Mixing of alternative rocks" in autumn 2007, when he "played" on 12 concrete mixers in front of the audience, during The Alternative Rock Festival in SKC, Belgrade.
For the purpose of the New Year's show on RTV, he appeared in the song "Rakija" followed by Zorule, the traditional folk orchestra. This song was used later as one of the tracks for "Vratiće se rode" tv serial. In February 2008, Rambo Amadeus performed as a guest star of The RTS Big Band jazz orchestra, for their 60th Anniversary.
"Hipishizik Metafizik" is his latest studio album, released for PGP RTS in July 2008.
Official Website: http://www.ramboamadeus.com/