(born June 14, 1963 in Kotor, Montenegro) is the stage name of the Belgrade-based Montenegrin rock singer-songwriter , popular all over the ex-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 (converging towards drum and bass in later works, but involving a lot of turbo-folk elements in earlier songs), and self-conscious ironic wit (for example, one of his aliases is .
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 Ðerdap Cup winner in 1980.
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 Podgorica. 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 studies, he also played with various struggling bands and musicians.
''O tugo jesenja'' (''Oh Autumn Sorrow'') - 1988
''Hocemo gusle'' (''We Want Gusle!'') - 1989
''Psihološko-propagandni komplet M-91'' (''Psychological Propaganda Set M-91'') - 1991
''Kurac, Picka, Govno, Sisa (live)'' (''Dick, Cunt, Shit, Tit (live)'') - 1993
''Izabrana dela'' (''Selected Works''), compilation, - 1994
''Muzika za decu'' (''Music for Children'') - 1995
''Mikroorganizmi'' (''Microorganisms'') - 1996
''R.A. u KUD France Prešern (live)'' - 1998
''Metropolis B (tour-de-force)'' - 1998
''Cobane, vrati se'' (''Shepherd, Come Back'') / ''Don't happy be worry'' - 2000
''Bolje jedno vruce pivo nego cetri ladna (live)'' (''One Warm Beer is Better than Four Cold Ones'') - 2004
''Oprem Dobro'' ("Push it Good") - 2005
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, rap 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 Fazliæ 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 Habiæ 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 song Balkan boy "...So he took me by the hand and led me upstairs to his office; When we got there there were also some older people; They offered me food, they offered me drink; I was very pleased so I just grinned". Habiæ also played the synthesizer on this album, from which a track named "Vanzemaljac" 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 Hoæemo 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 (biæe 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 which swept Milo Ðukanoviæ, Momir Bulatoviæ, and Svetozar Marovic into power. Protesters were heard chanting "Hoæemo 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 "Hoæemo gusle" ("We want gusle").
Other songs like "Balkan boy" and "Glupi hit" 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 creates a catchy hybrid by mixing pretentiously heavy sound of Laibach with poetry of Laza Kostiæ and Desanka Maksimoviæ, as well as with folk kafana standard "Èaše 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.
By the time '90s came, Rambo was an established performer. His third album M-91 was released 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 package, 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 Jovoviæa" (30-year old poem by Božo Ðuranoviæ), "Jemo voli jem" (incorporating samples from Yugoslav aviators' anthem "Hej vojnici vazduhoplovci" as well as Šemsa Suljakoviæ'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. Both tracks are classic Rambo: observant, opinionated, direct and profane. The latter of the two originally included excerpts from Slobodan Miloševiæ and Franjo Tuðman speeches, but the record company censors took them out.
This album further solidified Rambo's presence on the scene. 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. Although controversy never lagged far behind, perhaps his most talked about public appearance came during 1992 at a time when the war started raging across much of Bosnia-Herzegovina. During Beogradsko prolece (Belgrade Spring) festival televised live on Serbian state TV (RTS), he interrupted a set by Bebi Dol and blasted the crowd for what he saw as having mindless fun while bombs and grenades were falling only 300km away. Towards the end of the telecast he jumped on stage, carried Bebi Dol off, then returned to launch into a rant: "I've only got about two minutes to address the nation. While we're singing and enjoying ourselves here, Tuzla and Dubrovnik are being bombed. We don't want to entertain the electorate. Fuck off, all of you!", before throwing away the microphone in disgust and exiting, while the confused orchestra continued playing. He received a quiet state TV ban and didn't appear on its airwaves for quite some time.
Trying to take the new situation in stride, he hit the road, becoming one of the first Yugoslavian performers 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 Ršumoviæ'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 Zdravkoviæ and members of Šarlo Akrobata). Seasoned musicians like Ognjan Radivojeviæ (later to perform with Goran Bregoviæ and Zdravko Èoliæ), Goran Ljuboja, Dragan Markovski and Marija Mihajloviæ 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 Koncert v KUD France Prešeren), 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 Serbo-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 Stefanoviæ 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. 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 "Coban je upravo napustio zgradu" (loose cover of Neda Ukraden's "Zora je svanula"), "Moj skutere" that borrows from Oliver Dragojevic's "Moj galebe", and "Izadjite molim" with sprinkled in dialogues from Goran Markoviæ's 1975 movie Variola vera.
In 2004, Rambo released his third live album Bolje jedno vruæe pivo nego 4 ladna, which was followed by the new studio album Oprem dobro in mid-2005.
What can you expect at the concert of a musician whose stage name is Rambo Amadeus?A no holds barred mix of all kinds of genres and styles imaginable:funk, rock, drum and bass, jazz, folk, reggae-interspersed with highly recognizable musical quotations, presented in an energetic manner and with lyrics delivering a sharp and funny critique of human foolishness.From making fun of now already global human obsession with plastic surgery, to presenting his view of rave parties, to having discussions on the state of the world today, with Janis Joplin who came to him in his dream, Rambo constantly surprises his listeners with his intellect, his wit, and his comedic timing and
improvisation.In terms of his rhetoric and charm, which draw on his East European heritage, he can be compared to Gogol Bordello, and in terms of music he is often compared to Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart.So what to expect?A highly energetic, unpredictable musical mix, lots of humor, and fascinating musicianship.