Karel Kryl (April 12, 1944 Kroměříž – March 3, 1994 Munich) was a popular Czech singer-songwriter and performer of many protest songs in which he strongly criticized and identified the shortcomings and inhumanity of the Communist regime in his home country.
Kryl was born on April 12, 1944, in Kroměříž, in German-occupied Czechoslovakia, (now the Czech Republic). He was the son of Karel Kryl and Marie Krylová. His father owned a printing business, which was confiscated from the family in 1948 after the communist takeover.
Kryl moved to Prague in 1968 as an assistant at Czechoslovak Television. In his spare time he performed his songs in numerous small clubs. When the Warsaw Pact armies occupied Czechoslovakia on August 21, 1968, to suppress the Prague Spring reform movement, Kryl released his album Bratříčku zavírej vrátka (Close the Gate, Little Brother), full of songs describing his disgust at the occupation, his views on life under communist rule, and his perception of the crude inhumanity and stupidity of the regime. The album was released in early 1969 and was banned and removed from shelves shortly after. Faced with certain imprisonment, Kryl left Czechoslovakia in 1969 to live in West Germany. For the majority of his time in exile, Kryl worked for Radio Free Europe and released a number of albums during this period. Many of these songs became iconic back in his homeland and a symbol of protest.
In the enthusiastic November days of 1989, during the Velvet Revolution, Kryl returned to Czechoslovakia, but was reportedly disappointed with the transformation of society. On March 3, 1994, just a month before his fiftieth birthday, Karel Kryl died of a heart attack in a Passau hospital.