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Želimir Altarac Čičak

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Želimir Altarac
Želimir Altarac

(1947-08-21)21 August 1947
Died26 March 2021(2021-03-26) (aged 73)
Years active1962–2021
Known for'Uz malu pomoć mojih prijatelja' rock marathons,
Indexi songwriter

Želimir "Čičak" Altarac (21 August 1947 – 26 March 2021) was a Bosnian singer-songwriter from Sarajevo.[1]

Early life[edit]

Widely known as Čičak (burdock) for his curly hair, Altarac attended the First Sarajevo Gymnasium [bs] from 1961 until 1965. During this period he grew increasingly infatuated with Western rock music coming from the United States and the United Kingdom, which had gained a devoted audience among the youth of communist Yugoslavia. Teenage Čičak often skipped gym classes in pursuit of activities he was more interested in – organizing local rock gigs, writing and reciting poetry, moderating music events, and editing the gymnasium newsletter Polet. He developed a particular interest in the crossover between poetry and rock music, reciting his own poetry at different student manifestations over the coming years. Among such events from this period was a beatnik-like stage setup where upstart actors Etela Pardo and Branko Ličen recited Čičak's verses while musician Ranko Rihtman played the keyboard.

Čičak (far left) with Indexi at the very first 'Uz malu pomoć mojih prijatelja' rock marathon, held at Sarajevo's Dom mladih in January 1979

In the late sixties, the first underground club Barutana was taking shape in downtown Sarajevo, with Čičak participating from the beginning. Many later famous musicians of former Yugoslavia started their journey in Barutana in some sort of Bosnian/Yugoslavian "tower of songs". Čičak soon commenced a program "Čičak plus Čičak" ("Burdock Plus Burdock") where he and the band Čičak jointly performed. It was also in Barutana that Čičak made a step towards not only working with the music but rather working on music of his own. His cooperation with the pop-rock group Kodeksi resulted in three chart successes according to the Sarajevo Radio Chart (the best media platform for progressive music waves at the time). He wrote lyrics for Eduard Bogeljić's song "Lutalica" and he also made a remake of two world hits: "To Love Somebody" by the Bee Gees and "Song of a Baker" by Small Faces.

DJ, journalist, and promoter[edit]

Čičak's collaboration with the rock group Indexi helped him to further sharpen his poetic expression in pop-rock music. He wrote lyrics for their most famous songs such as: "Negdje na kraju u zatišju" ("Somewhere, at the end of a road, where everything goes down to silence"), and "Svijet u kome živim" (The World I live In). A truth seeking[clarification needed] of "Negdje na kraju u zatišju" was published in Polet to be later musically arranged and tuned by Slobodan Bodo Kovačević of Indexi, who made a 12-minute-long song which starts and ends with recitation. It was a somewhat unusual and new form of musical expression at the time,[2] but was very successful according to the Radio Sarajevo Music Chart. Čičak also later wrote, "Povratak Jacka Trbosjeka" (Return of Jack the Ripper) for Indexi.

Čičak circa mid-1980s, taping an episode of Šarada akustika — his weekly Radio Sarajevo show.

Besides his experiences with Barutana and collaboration with Indexi, Čičak was a winner of a European competition of DJs in the Istrian city of Rovinj. He showed a great interest in working as a music radio host and his journey to achieving this started in 1974 at Radio Sarajevo. Here he initially hosted Pop Orion and then Attention please, mind the Dynamite on the Vinyl, Ballads in the shadow of skyscrapers, and Joyful Electronics. When Radio Sarajevo started its late-night programme in 1981, Čičak was among the few to jump in. He helped Radio Sarajevo with his spirit, but he was also helped by them to make his name in the music realm of Yugoslavia. His late-night program started with a show called Discothèque at 2:30, which was an introduction to Charade of acoustic, which thousands of people from Slovenia to Macedonia tuned into during the prime time between 4.30 p.m. and 6.00 p.m.[3]

He soon started another adventure by traveling to different places within former Yugoslavia with his "flying" discothèque called Top Rock Disco Show. The positive perception of music critics and thousands of listeners encouraged Čičak to undertake yet another endeavor – to discover and promote new rising stars. From 1977 to 1982 at the Sloga cultural club, in downtown Sarajevo, Čičak paved the way for a new generation of rock musicians to show their talent. Talented young musicians and rock groups to be, from those garage bands to the school ones, were dreaming of having an opportunity to present themselves at Sloga. Those who were proven to be the best did really get the opportunity – including Žaoka (Sting), Flota (Fleet), Top (Canon), Kako had, Mali print (Small Prince), Rock Apoteka (Rock Pharmacy), Tina, Ozbiljno Pitanje (A Serious Question), Linija života (Life Line), Posljednji autobus (The Last Bus), Lucifer, and Velika Porodica (The Big Family). This healthy competition of its own had helped forge new domestic pop-rock concepts and shaped up later to be among the biggest pop-rock bands in the former Yugoslavia – Zabranjeno Pušenje, Plavi orkestar, Crvena jabuka, Bombaj Štampa, Valentino, Gino Banana, and singer Mladen Vojičić Tifa...They had also opened the door of fame to somewhat at the time smaller bands who just later gained their momentum of fame- Vatreni Poljubac, Divlje jagode, Film, Buldožer, Galija...

Čičak onstage at Sloga Club in Sarajevo in 1978

Čičak continued to spread new narratives and discover new territories. At Đuro Đaković Workers' University Amphitheatre, from 1977 to 1980, he was organizing lectures about the world and domestic trends in pop-rock music. As a journalist and music critic, Čičak was publishing articles and editorials in almost all leading newspapers and magazines in Sarajevo and former Yugoslavia – VEN, Večernje novine, Svijet, Oslobođenje, Džuboks, and Rock.

The year 1984 has particular significance in Čičak's career. Back then Olympic metropolis of the world (that was the year of the Fourteenth Olympic Winter Games in Sarajevo), Čičak took over the editorial stick at the so-called Youth Centre Skenderija (Dom Mladih) where he was relentlessly working from 1984 to 1992[4][5] His name was well known, his experience undisputed and Sarajevo as a relatively small town and very vivid music scene in comparison to Zagreb and Belgrade was ready for its "five minutes" of fame as a cultural capital of the former Yugoslavia. It was at Dom Mladih where Čičak[6][7] first organised traditional music manifestation of wider significance: "Yu heavy metal fest" (1986-1991)[8] i "Festival of pop-rock bands of BIH – significant newcomers" or in native language "Nove nade nove snage" (Dom mladih 1984–1992).[9] For all those who happen to even superficially know the pop rock scene of the former Yugoslavia names such as: Dino Merlin, Hari Mata Hari, Konvoj (Convoy), Regina (Bosnia and Herzegovina band), Letu štuke, Protest (Demonstration), Knock Out (Apokalipsa), Rupa u zidu – (Damir Avdić Diplomatz) can be enough argument for understanding a role a Youth Centre and Čičak were playing in modern music history of Sarajevo, BiH and region. All of them started their very successful careers at Čičak's Festival "Significant Newcomers".[10]

Rock marathons (1979, 1984, 1989)[edit]

A really special place and meaning in Želimir Altarac Čičak's entire career belongs to Rock Marathons organized under the banner: "Ž.A. Čičak – with a little help from my friends".

Čičak with Tifa, Davor Gobac, Bruno Langer, and Đuro at the YU rock marathon event at Zetra in October 1989.

Every five years, exactly on his working jubilee, Čičak was organizing a ten hour long program with all musicians from former Yugoslavia who either started off with his help or who appreciated in a particular way his contribution to the profession. The first one was organised at the Youth Center at Skenderija on January 18, 1979, where many friends showed up, most of whom genuine representatives of Sarajevo music school: Indexi, Vatreni Poljubac, Divlje jagode, Cod, Formula 4, Jadranka Stojaković, Slobodan Samardžić & Narcis Vučina...

The second one took place on November 24, 1984, in overcrowded Skenderija where, now famous veterans, Indexi played their hits alongside renowned pop-rock bands: Bajaga I Instruktori, U škripcu, Slomljena Stakla, Elvis J. Kurtovich, Kongres, Gino banana, Leb i sol, Laboratorija Zvuka, Drugi način, Galija, Vatreni Poljubac, Teška Industrija, Resonance, Formula 4... The third and the most spectacular one by far took place at the biggest hall in Sarajevo "Zetra" on October 14, 1989. Throughout a ten hours program, almost all relevant musicians on former Yugoslavia showed up – from Indexi[11] and Riblja Čorba to Atomsko sklonište, YU Grupa, Galija, Vatreni Poljubac, Jura Stublić i Film, Le cinema, Zabranjeno Pušenje, Psihomodo Pop, Hari Mata Hari, Tifa Band, Formula 4, Bambinosi, Rusija, Konvoj... Especially, need to emphasize that all participants of his jubilee concerts that includes champions of pop rock music and new names of BiH and former Yugoslav scene, played their music for free as a sign of successful cooperation in many years.


Želimir Altarac Čičak and Joan Baez before her concert appearance in wartime Sarajevo April 14, 1993

Čičak rediscovered his own way to fight against the gloomy days of besieged and suffocated Sarajevo. He continued organizing concerts at Sloga and hosting many radio shows when there was electricity to allow them to be broadcast. From 1993 to 1995 in Sarajevo's radio station The Wall, he was the editor and host of the show Rock 'n' roll radio, which he called, thanks to blackouts in those years, Accumulator Radio. Still, in polls among listeners, it was the most listened radio show in those years. The same thing happened with his TV Show on NTV 99 Above the Clouds (1996–1997).[12] He was the organizer of the first rock concert during the war (March 23, 1993) at Chamber Theater 55, entitled Give Peace a Chance, that gathered all musicians who stayed in war-torn Sarajevo. A special event was a concert of Joan Baez on April 14, 1993, in the cinema hall Imperial,[13] that attracted the attention of world media.

U2 concert, football match between Bosnian and Italian singers, Deep Purple[edit]

The Edge guitarist of U2 band and Želimir Altarac Čičak, September 23, 1997, Sarajevo

From 2006 onwards, every Friday from 4.30 p.m. to 6.00 p.m. Čičak hosted the radio show Izvan Vremena ('Out of Time') on the so-called Open Network, composed of many networked radio stations in BiH that simultaneously broadcast the same show, enhancing coverage to all corners of the country.[14] As he had helped Indexi to emerge as one of the most significant Yu rock bands, with the same passion and dedication he worked on their comeback immediately after the War. Čičak organised their first comeback concert at the Bosnian Cultural Centre, downtown Sarajevo, on February 2 and 3, 1996.[15]

He was the organizer of the concert "Rock no War", of the Italian star Paolo Belli in the Sloga Club on March 17, 1996, and as a promoter, he participated in organizing the concert of the Irish rock stars U2 at Koševo stadium on September 23, 1997.[16][17] He organized and promoted the musical and sports spectacle "Meeting of Harts", the first football match between singers squads of Italia and BiH on October 19, 1998, at Grbavica stadium, a Deep Purple concert at Zetra on November 3, 2007, and a concert of Joan Baez in traditional manifestation Baščaršija Nights (Baščaršijske noći) on July 16, 2008.[18][19] He was also the organizer of numerous visits from BiH to concerts of world music stars in neighbouring states,[20]

Until 1983 he was a free artist, and from that year until 1994 he was the organizer of musical programs at the Youth Center in Sarajevo (Dom Mladih Sarajevo). From 1994 to 2007 he worked in the news agency BIH PRESS, which later became the Federal News agency FENA, as a promoter, journalist, and editor-in-chief of e-magazine for culture BIH KULT.[citation needed]

He published his autobiography Antique Shop of Dreams, which describes his participation in the rise of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the ex-yu rock-pop scene from the 1960s. The book was promoted on 25 November 2017 at the book trade fair "Books in shelves".[21][22] At a subsequent promotion concert in Sarajevo, some of his associates guest-performed without fees.[23][24][25][26][27]



  • City of Sarajevo 6th of April Award from 1980. (Spomen placenta grade Sarajevo 06. april 1980.)
  • The Gold Medal of Labour from 1983.by the Presidency of BiH (Zlatna Medalja rada (1983.-Predsjedništvo SFRJ)
  • The Art Award of BIH from 1990. (1990.–Savez Udruženja Estradnih Radnika SRBIH)
  • The Golden Lilly of the Sarajevo -Center County from 1996. (Zlatni Ljiljan 1996. – Općina Centar Sarajevo),
  • Davorin 2005 – The special award for affirmation of pop-rock culture (Posebna Nagrada za Afirmaciju BiH pop-rock culture)

About Želimir Altarac Čičak in various literature, lexicons etc.[edit]

  • Antique Shop of Dreams ( Antikvarnica snova) autobiography/monography – Želimir Altarac Čičak, Sarajevo: publishing house Dobra kniga – ISBN 978-9958-27-384-1
  • Biography Lexicon of Who is Who in BiH 2014.-2018,Tešanj(pp. 29–30): Publishing House Planjax Commerc – ISBN 978-9958-34-132-8
  • Indexi – in despise to years: a documentary biography in four parts, Dujmović, Josip, Zenica: publishing house The Library of Zenica, 2016., ISBN 978-9926-423-04-9, pp. 17,116,125,126,131,133,135,141,162,163,164,231,249,260,301,302,333,334,335,346.
  • Sarajevo my City 6– A Virtuoso on Guitar and Romantic, Sarajevo: Publishing House Rabic, 2016. ISBN 978-9926-428-00-6, pp. 153-160.
  • A closing time in Sarajevo, Janković, Nenad alias Dr. Nele Karajlić, Beograd: publishing house Laguna ISBN 978-86-521-1564-8 and Novosti a.d., 2014. ISBN 978-86-7446-241-6, pp. 125,126,127,130.
  • If you were me, Vesić, Dušan, Zagreb: publishing house Ljevak, d.o.o., 2014. ISBN 978-953-303-751-6, pp. 08,30,199
  • Sarajevo My City 3- One of those days – Sloga of our youth, Sarajevo: publishing house Rabic, 2014. ISBN 978-9958-33-084-1, pp.193-201.
  • Indexi – In despise to years-a biography of Indexi, Dujmović, Josip, Sarajevo: publishing house Quattro Media, 2006., ISBN 9958-9113-0-2, pp. 8, 101, 102, 108, 109, 114, 116, 117, 125, 140, 148, 183, 184, 193, 207, 215, 244, 249, 250.
  • Indexi – In despise to years- Photo Monography, Dujmović, Josip:, Sarajevo: publishing house Quattro Media Sarajevo, 2006., – pp. 7,61,67,101,110,114,135,142,161,171,227 (ISBN 9958-9113-1-0)
  • When the rock was young, Škarica Siniša, Zagreb: publishing house V.B.Z. Zagreb, 2005., ISBN 953-201-517-5, pp. 142, 177
  • The first BH pop-rock lexicon, Misirlić, Amir, publishing house Hercegtisak, 2004., ISBN 9958-780-11-9, pp. 2, 13, 46, 59, 77, 81, 106, 115, 151.
  • Ex Yu rock enciklopedija 1960–2006, Janjatović, Petar, Beograd:publishing house Čigoja štampa 2007. ISBN 978-86-905317-1-4, p. 105
  • Lexicon of Yu Mithology, Beograd Publishing houses Rende, Postscriptum, 2004. (National Library Belgrad ISBN 86-83897-24-9), Nacional Library Zagreb ISBN 953-99584-0-7), pp. 96, 248
  • Music-Importance and Development of Sarajevo Pop Rock Scene, Sarajevo: Music Academy, 1997 – pp. 137,138,139,140,141.
  • Significance And Development Of The Sarajevo Pop Rock Music Scene, Sarajevo: AINFSN, pub. AVICENA, – Open Society Soros Sarajevo,1994. Nr.647, pp. 143,144,145,146,147.
  • Sarajevo War Drama – The second part, Miličević, Hrvoje, Sarajevo:1993. Pp. 143,144,145.


  1. ^ "Shameful swastika Graffiti drawn on the Obituary of Music Legend Zelimir Altarac Cicak". SarajevoTimes. April 2021. Retrieved 3 August 2022.
  2. ^ "10 epova jugoslovenskog progressive rocka". 8 October 2015. Archived from the original on 12 April 2017. Retrieved 7 March 2017. Indexi - Negde u kraju u zatišju "Put od nastanka do objavljivanja ove kompozicije je podjednako epski, koliko i njen sadržaj. Naime, tekst pesme je napisao pesnik Želimir Altarac Čičak kao gimnazijalac, i objavio ju je u školskom listu Polet 1965. godine, a Bodo Kovačević, gitarista..."
  3. ^ "Zelimir Altarac Cicak – spica emisije "Sarada akustika" (1982. – 1985.)". YouTube. Archived from the original on 5 April 2017. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  4. ^ "Čičak o sarajevskoj rock sceni, Indexima, Merlinu..." 14 July 2016. Archived from the original on 6 March 2017. Retrieved 7 March 2017. Gost specijalnog izdanja emisije Pozitiv bio je Želimir Altarac Čičak, publicista, novinar, pjesnik, urednik i voditelj radio i TV emisija, disk džokej, jedan od utemeljitelja sarajevske muzičke scene.
  5. ^ "Želim da Dom mladih postane sarajevski "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame"". Dnevni avaz. 4 February 2007. Archived from the original on 6 March 2017. Retrieved 7 March 2017. Jedan od najznacajnijih kreatora pop-rok scene u Sarajevu, autor, DJ, publicista, animator rok kulture, urednik i voditelj radio i TV emisija Želimir Altarac Cicak bio je muzicki urednik, organizator i promotor programa u Domu mladih u više perioda, ali je, svakako, najznacajniji onaj od 1984. do 1992. godine
  6. ^ ""Rođen sam kao pacifista"". Archived from the original on 7 March 2017. Retrieved 7 March 2017. Želimir Altarac Čičak je jedna od najpoznatijih ličnosti muzičke scene u bivšoj Jugoslaviji. On je jedan od onih koji najbolje mogu ispričati s kolikom energijom su se muzičari, čak i nakon izbijanja rata, zalagali za mir."
  7. ^ ""Ich bin als Pazifist geboren"". Archived from the original on 6 March 2017. Retrieved 7 March 2017. Želimir Altarac Čičak gehört zu den bekanntesten Figuren der Musikszene in Ex-Jugoslawien, und er ist es, der am besten erzählen kann, mit welcher Energie sich die Musikszene auch nach Ausbruch des Krieges noch für den Frieden einsetzte.
  8. ^ "Tifa band -"Svejedno je" Live ("IV Yu heavy metal fest" Sarajevo – Dom mladih 18. i 19.11.1989. )". YouTube. Archived from the original on 5 April 2017. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  9. ^ "'Nove nade, nove snage' 30. avgusta u Domu mladih". 19 August 2014. Archived from the original on 6 March 2017. Retrieved 7 March 2017. Želimir Altarac Čičak, organizator i inicijator ovog već tradicionalnog demo festivala bh. grupa je kaže:"Prvi festival se desio 1984. godine i trajao je do 1992. godine, a održano ih je osam, a održano ih je osam u okviru koga su se predstavile 263 mlade neafirmisane demo grupe iz svih krajolika BiH.
  10. ^ "Želimir Altarac Čičak, promotor i kreator sarajevske muzičke scene: Nema odmora dok traje rock and roll obnova". 15 December 2014. Archived from the original on 6 March 2017. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  11. ^ "Indexi – "Svijet u kome zivim" Live (retro Yu rock maraton-Zelimir Altarac Cicak 14.10.1989.-Zetra)". YouTube. Archived from the original on 6 April 2017. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  12. ^ "Zelimir Altarac Cicak – trailer za device decide od Emitovanja TV Emisije "Iznad Oblaka" (1996/97)". YouTube. Archived from the original on 6 April 2017. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  13. ^ "Joan Baez I Zelimir Altarac Cicak ( concert 14.04.1993.- "Sarajevo Ljubavi Moja" i "Imagine" Live". YouTube. Archived from the original on 5 April 2017. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  14. ^ "Zelimir Altarac Cicak -deset godina emisije "Izvan vremena" (2006–2016 uz pozdrave nekih saputnika)". YouTube. Archived from the original on 6 April 2017. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  15. ^ "Indexi i Zelimir Altarac Cicak – Negdje na kraju u zatisju Live – 02. februar 1996. – BKC Sarajevo". YouTube. Archived from the original on 5 April 2017. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  16. ^ "U2 – 23. 09. 1997. – Stadion Koševo, Sarajevo". Archived from the original on 6 March 2017. Retrieved 7 March 2017. Priča oko ovog koncerta je počela u decembru 1996. godine, a već u februaru 1997. godine koncert je potvrđen u emisiji Iznad oblaka koja se emitovala na NTV 99, a urednik i voditelj emisije je bio ikona našeg muzičkog novinarstva, Želimir Altarac - Čičak.
  17. ^ "Paul McGuinness manager grupe "U2" i Zelimir Altarac Cicak intervju – Sarajevo 28.marta 1997". YouTube. Archived from the original on 5 April 2017. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  18. ^ "DEEP PURPLE – "Zetra" – Sarajevo". Archived from the original on 6 March 2017. Retrieved 7 March 2017. "Eto, ko ceka i doceka..." Kazao je promotor spektakla Zelimir Altarac Cicak
  19. ^ "16 jula pred sarajevskom publikom nastupit će američka muzičarka Joan Baez". 21 May 2008. Archived from the original on 8 March 2017. Retrieved 7 March 2017. ...o čemu nam govori promotor njenog koncerta Želimir Altarac Čičak...
  20. ^ "Organizovano iz BiH na koncerte 'Depeche Mode' i 'Green Day'". 13 May 2013. Archived from the original on March 6, 2017. Retrieved 7 March 2017. "... Zaista se radi o dva velika muzička događaja..." rekao nam je Želimir Altarac Čičak, promotor ovih putovanja.
  21. ^ "Antikvarnica snova" naziv je knjige Želimira Altarca Čička koji za nju kaže da je svojevrsna autobiografska monografija. Knjiga je predstavljena 25. studenoga na sajmu „Knjige u nišama" u Bosanskom kulturnom centru Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  22. ^ Pretpromocija autobiografije/monografije Želimira Altarca Čička u BKC-u Archived 2019-03-06 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  23. ^ U kultnom prostoru Doma mladih u Sarajevu 23.12.2017. održana je promocija knjige "Antikvarnica snova" i koncert na kojem su ovu svojevrsnu proslavu Želimira Altarca Čička uveličali kao gosti neki od njegovih prijatelja i suradnika Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  24. ^ Povodom knjige "Antikvarnica snova"...desetominutni insert iz emisije "U programu ste" emitovane na BHT1 Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  25. ^ Želimir Altarac-Čičak u komentaru društvenih mreža Archived 2018-02-09 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  26. ^ Izvan vremena za sva vremena Archived 2019-03-06 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  27. ^ Želimir Altarac Čičak: Glavna sovražnika nacionalizma sta rockovska bratstvo in enotnost - Želimir Altarac Čičak je legendarno ime jugoslovanske rockovske zgodovine, eden najpomembnejših in najvplivnejših oblikovalcev sarajevskega glasbenega področja, pionir vrtenja glasbe, urednik in voditelj številnih priljubljenih radijskih in televizijskih oddaj Archived 2020-10-24 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 8 February 2018.

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