YU Rock Misija

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Participants in YU Rock Misija during the recording of the video for the song "Za milion godina"

YU Rock Misija (known in English as YU Rock Mission) was the contribution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to Bob Geldof's Band Aid campaign which culminated with the Live Aid concert. The contribution included the recording of a charity single "Za milion godina" and a charity concert held at Red Star Stadium on June 15, 1985, both featuring top acts of the Yugoslav rock scene.

Background[edit]

In an interview for the documentary series Rockovnik rock critic Peca Popović stated:

YU Rock Misija was our response to what was going on at the end of 1984 and the beginning of 1985, when the action of solidarity with the hungry in Africa was started. On the global level, it was done by Bob Geldof. On the local level, some people on 1984 Opatija Festival agreed to do something. They made an agreement, but they weren't sure what should they do, so some of them came to ask me what I thought. I said: It's simple, we should make a record, release it with Rock magazine, sell it in the number of copies Rock is printed in, and make a concert.[1]

"Za milion godina"[edit]

"Za milion godina"
Single by YU Rock Misija
B-side "Za milion godina (Instrumentalna verzija)"
Released 1985 (1985)
Format 7"
Genre Pop rock
Label PGP-RTB
Writer(s) Dragan Ilić, Mladen Popović
Producer(s) Saša Habić

The song, entitled "Za milion godina" ("For a Million Years") was composed by former Generacija 5 keyboardist and leader Dragan Ilić, and the lyrics were written by Mladen Popović,[1] who had previously written lyrics for Denis & Denis, Oliver Mandić and other acts,[2] and was, at the time, an editor of the show Hit meseca (Hit of the Month).[3]

In an interview for Rockovnik, Ilić stated:

Thanks to the support of the institutions, mainly Radio Television of Belgrade and PGP-RTB, we made the song, [...] and we gathered literally the best in former Yugoslavia, and in three days we did the video, the music, the arrangements.[1]

A large number of musicians took part in the recording, mostly as vocalists. The song was played by Ilić (keyboards), his former bandmates from Generacija 5, Dragan Jovanović (guitar), Dušan Petrović (bass guitar) and Slobodan Đorđević (drums), and Vlatko Stefanovski of Leb i Sol (guitar solo).[4]

The song was produced by Saša Habić.[4] It was released on a 7" single, with the instrumental version of the song as the B-side, with the 75th issue of the Rock magazine.[4] The cover was designed by cartoonist and designer Jugoslav Vlahović.[4]

Personnel[edit]

Additional personnel[edit]

Notable absences[edit]

Bora Đorđević and Goran Bregović, leaders of Riblja Čorba and Bijelo Dugme respectively, two most popular Yugoslav bands at the time, openly refused to take part in the song recording.[5] In a 1985 interview, published before the song recording, Đorđević stated:

No, I won't [appear on the record]! I took part in a show organized to raise funds for the Ethiopians, and I think that is, when it comes to me, enough. Everybody's starting some actions to help them, and no one is trying to help Yugoslavia! I will play day and night for free, for charity, for whatever you want, but after they lower our [musicians'] monstrous taxes, after they allow us to import musical instruments, after they give us apartments... When we're needed to play for charity - we musicians are great, but usually we're shit! If we could finally get the status of cultural workers, we could play for free, with pleasure![6]

However, both Đorđević and Bregović, alongside Bijelo Dugme vocalist Mladen Vojičić "Tifa", appeared on the video recording, and can be seen in the video for the song.[5]

In the August 1986 interview for Rock magazine, singer-songwriter Đorđe Balašević stated:

It stung me and hurt me when they didn't invite me to YU Rock Misija, because I believe I could have, not as a singer but as a songwriter, I could have written at least a strophe...[7]

Dragan Ilić stated that Azra leader Branimir "Džoni" Štulić was not invited to participate in the song recording because he was at the time living in Netherlands.

The Concert[edit]

The corresponding charity concert was held on Red Star Stadium on June 15, 1985, a little less than a month before Live Aid.[1] Beside the musicians who participated in the song recording and the bands they were members of, other acts performed as well.[1] The concert featured, in the following order:[8]

The concert lasted for eight hours and was broadcast live by Radio Television of Belgrade.[1] In an interview for Rockovnik, Dubravka Marković, an editor of the show Hit meseca, stated about the concert:

We had problems with the weather. It was raining, then it stopped. The second problem was that the management of the Red Star Stadium did not allow the crowd to get out on the pitch, so the audience and the performers shouted at each others.[1]

Bajaga i Instruktori frontman Momčilo Bajagić stated about the concert:

They didn't allow the audience to step on the grass, so we [the performers] were at the stadium's western stand, and the crowd was on the opposite side at the eastern one. Which was a 'brilliant' solution because we were looking at the pitch and didn't even see if there was anybody on the other side. And the echo was so huge, I remember that Milić Vukašinović cursed into the microphone while we were on air, because he thought someone turned on the delay. When you would say 'good evening', it was heard on the east as 'good evening, good evening, good evening, good evening'.[1]

Vukašinović, performing with his band Vatreni Poljubac, stopped playing in the middle of the song "Živio Rock 'n' Roll" ("Long Live Rock 'n' Roll") and said into the microphone: "It's not good... Fuck it, it's not good!".[1]

Airing during Live Aid[edit]

The song, alongside a corresponding message from Belgrade, was aired on Wembley Stadium during Live Aid concert,[1] between Run–D.M.C. and Black Sabbath performances in Philadelphia.[5]

Funds raised and legacy[edit]

According to Peca Popović, the funds raised from the sales of the "Za milion godina" single were 256,000 US dollars and 170,000 dollars from the concert tickets, for the grand total of 426,000 dollars.[9]

In 2007, Serbian critic Dimitrije Vojnov named "Za milion godina" one of ten most important records in the history of Yugoslav rock music, writing:

This project is one of the best indicators of how developed Yugoslav rock scene was, because with it our pop and rock performers managed to start a relevant charity campaign and join a global movement, which featured representatives from the developed scenes. Today, it would be completely absurd to gather our performers of this genre and expect them to articulate something which could be notable at the local level. [...] In the video [...] everybody is smiling and dancing, and no one's face tells what would happen to us soon after that. In this video, we can see, beside political unity, the unity of the scene, where Bijelo Dugme isn't strictly, militantly separated from Idoli, which is what would later happen, when all other separations become militant. In extreme case, this project remains a symbol of the time when we were helping the people in need, and several years later we were the ones who were receiving aid from charity projects of this type.[10]

In 2011, Mladen Popović made a similar statement for the documentary series Rockovnik:

It meant something that, at the time, we were the ones who were helping the people in need, and, unfortunately, only several years later, it was us who were receiving aid from the world.[1]

The piano version of "Za milion godina" appeared at the end of the last episode of Rockovnik, where it follows footage of former Yugoslav rock acts.[11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]