Czesław Niemen

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Czesław Niemen
Popiersie Czesław Niemen ssj 20060914.jpg

Czesław Niemen (Celebrity Alley, Kielce)
Background information
Birth name Czesław Juliusz Wydrzycki
Born (1939-02-16)February 16, 1939
in Stare Wasiliszki, Nowogródek Voivodeship, Poland (now Belarus)
Died January 17, 2004(2004-01-17) (aged 64)
in Warsaw, Poland
Genres Rock & roll, psychedelic rock, progressive rock, folk music, avant-garde jazz, electronic music
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, poet
Instruments Multi-instrumentalist (mostly electronic instruments and keyboards)
Years active 1967–2001
Associated acts Niebiesko-Czarni, Andrzej Kurylewicz
Website Niemen at

Czesław Niemen (Polish pronunciation: [t͡ʂɛswaf ɲemɛn]; February 16, 1939 – January 17, 2004), born Czesław Juliusz Wydrzycki, was one of the most important and original Polish singer-songwriters and rock balladeers of the last quarter-century,[1] singing mainly in Polish.


Niemen was born in Stare Wasiliszki in the Nowogródek Voivodeship of the Second Polish Republic (now in the Grodno Region of Belarus). Czesław Niemen belonged to a huge, strongly self-identified and culturally influential community of Poles, living outside the eastern borders of contemporary Poland, on the eastern lands of the historical Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (called 'Kresy' - 'borderlands' - in Polish). In the dawn of World War II these ethnic Belarusian lands were annexed by the Soviet Union and became a part of Belorussian SSR, according to Europe's post-war reorganization performed during the Yalta Conference at the same time when Gdańsk and Wrocław (called Danzig and Breslau in German) became a part of Poland. In the 1950s Niemen was allowed to move to Poland as one of many Poles embodied by the so-called Second Repatriation.

He made his debut in the early 1960s, singing Polish rock and soul music. He possessed an unusually wide voice range and equally rich intonation. He was also an ardent composer and a keyboard player.

In 1964 at Congress Hall, Warsaw, Niemen, together with his group, played as a support act to Marlene Dietrich during her concert. She heard his song "Czy mnie jeszcze pamiętasz" ("Do you still remember me?") there. She enjoyed it so much that she soon recorded her own version of it "Mutter, Hast du Mir Vergeben" ("Mother, have you forgiven me?") writing her own lyrics for the song.[2]

Soon after his first successful concerts in France, he started to use the pseudonym Niemen instead of his real name, gaining wider notoriety in Poland and making it easier to pronounce by foreigners (Niemen is a Polish pronunciation of the Neman River, which flows in close proximity to his place of birth). His song of 1967, "Dziwny jest ten świat" (Strange Is This World) is commonly acknowledged to be the most important Polish protest song of that era (in 1972 an English version was also recorded). The song was influenced by the American blues tradition.[1] He was one of the first Polish performers to wear long hair and colourful clothes and introduced the style of psychedelia to communist Poland, which annoyed the officials. The first three LP album's Niemen recorded with his band "Akwarele" (Watercolours). Subsequently, he recorded with his other new bands: "Enigmatic", "Grupa Niemen" and "Aerolit". In 1969 he changed musical style to progressive rock while recording the monumental album Enigmatic. The most notable song from it was "Bema pamięci żałobny rapsod" (A Mournful Rhapsody in Memory of Józef Bem), based on the 19th century poem by Cyprian Kamil Norwid. The rest of Enigmatic songs were also in sung poetry form. Niemen played Hammond organ, later mellotron and Moog synthesizer on his records.

In the early 1970s, Niemen recorded three English language albums under the CBS label, two of them (and three more in Poland) with the Silesian band SBB. With SBB Niemen performed at the 1972 Rock & Jazz Now! opening show for the Olympic Games in Munich sharing stage with Mahavishnu Orchestra, John McLaughlin and Charles Mingus and subsequently toured with the band of Jack Bruce. In 1974 he recorded Mourner's Rhapsody with Jan Hammer and Rick Laird from Mahavishnu Orchestra. In the seventies, Niemen turned to jazz-rock fusion and electronic music (Katharsis album). In 1972 he also contributed with a song performed by him in "Wesele" (The Wedding (1972 film)) by director Andrzej Wajda, laureate of an honorary Oscar. Later, Niemen also composed film soundtracks and theater music. In the 1990s he showed interest in art, painting and computer graphics.

Death and the funeral[edit]

He died of cancer on January 14 2004 in Warsaw. His remains were cremated and placed in a columbarium niche on Powazki Cemetery in Warsaw on January 30 2004.

Awards and recognitions[edit]

Niemen won the Sopot International Song Festival in 1979.

Niemen's support bands[edit]

Niemen cooperated with the following bands; some of them were support musicians, while others were independent bands: "Akwarele" ("Watercolours"), "I Niemen" ("And Niemen") (1969–1970), also under the name "Niemen Enigmatic"), "Grupa Niemen" (made of the members of Silesian Blues Band), Niebiesko-Czarni, "Aerolit", female vocal band Alibabki.

"Aerolit" accompanied Czesław Niemen in 1974–1978. Initially it was formed from young musiсians of the rock band Krzak: Jacek Gazda, Jan Błędowski, Maciej Radziejewski, Piotr Dziemski.[3] The word means "aerolite" in Polish.


Studio albums[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
Dziwny jest ten świat
  • Released: May 15, 1967[5]
  • Label: Polskie Nagrania Muza
  • Released: May 20, 1968[7]
  • Label: Polskie Nagrania Muza
Czy mnie jeszcze pamiętasz?
  • Released: June 30, 1969[8]
  • Label: Polskie Nagrania Muza
  • Released: January 19, 1970[9]
  • Label: Polskie Nagrania Muza
  • POL: Gold
  • Released: May 24, 1971[10]
  • Label: Polskie Nagrania Muza
Niemen Vol. 1
  • Released: 1973
  • Label: Polskie Nagrania Muza
Niemen Vol. 2
  • Released: 1973
  • Label: Polskie Nagrania Muza
Niemen Aerolit
  • Released: 1975
  • Label: Polskie Nagrania Muza
  • Released: 1976
  • Label: Polskie Nagrania Muza
Idée Fixe
  • Released: 1978
  • Label: Polskie Nagrania Muza
  • Released: 1980
  • Label: Polskie Nagrania Muza
  • Released: 1982
  • Label: Rogot
Terra Deflorata
  • Released: February 20, 1989[11]
  • Label: Veriton, Polton
  • Released: October 27, 2001[12]
  • Label: EMI Music Poland
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

English-language albums[edit]

Title Album details
Strange Is This World
  • Released: 1972
  • Label: CBS
Ode to Venus
  • Released: 1973
  • Label: CBS
Mourner's Rhapsody
  • Released: 1974
  • Label: CBS

Russian-language albums[edit]

Title Album details
Russische Lieder
  • Released: 1973
  • Label: CBS

Live albums[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart positions
41 Potencjometrów Pana Jana
  • Released: October 22, 2007[13]
  • Label: Polskie Radio
Kattorna/Pamflet na ludzkość
  • Released: February 28, 2009[14]
  • Label: Polskie Radio
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Compilation albums[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
The Best of Niemen
  • Released: 1979
  • Label: Polskie Nagrania Muza
Gwiazdy mocnego uderzenia: Czesław Niemen
  • Released: 1991
  • Label: Polskie Nagrania Muza
Sen o Warszawie
  • Released: 1995
  • Label: Polskie Nagrania Muza
Czas jak rzeka: Złota kolekcja
  • Released: 2000
  • Label: EMI Music Poland
od początku I
  • Released: 2002
  • Label: Polskie Radio/Polskie Nagrania Muza
od początku II
  • Released: 2003
  • Label: Polskie Radio/Polskie Nagrania Muza
Spiżowy krzyk
  • Released: May 30, 2008[17]
  • Label: Polskie Nagrania Muza
Nasz Niemen
  • Released: July 27, 2009[18]
  • Label: Agora SA
Pamiętam ten dzień
  • Released: November 7, 2011[19]
  • Label: Polskie Radio
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.


In 2009, National Bank of Poland presented three coins dedicated to Niemen: issued on June 19 two silver 10-zloty coins, one of which of square shape, and issued n June 17 2-zloty coin of Nordic Gold alloy.[20] [21]

Books about Niemen[edit]

  • Roman Radoszewski, Czesław Niemen: Kiedy się dziwić przestanę. Monografia artystyczna. Iskry, 2004. ISBN 83-207-1770-1.
  • Marek Gaszyński, Czas jak rzeka. Prószyński i S-ka, 2004. ISBN 83-7337-849-9.
  • Dariusz Michalski, Niemen o sobie. Warszawa: Twój Styl, 2005. ISBN 83-7163-568-0.
  • Tadeusz Skliński, Niemen: dyskografia, fakty, twórczość. Nemunas, 2006. ISBN 83-9230-920-0.
  • Dariusz Michalski, Czesław Niemen: Czy go jeszcze pamiętasz?. Warszawa: MG, 2009. ISBN 978-83-61297-76-5.
  • Jan Edward Czachor, Czesław Niemen w Świebodzinie. Stowarzyszenie Pamięci Czesława Niemena w Świebodzinie, 2010.


  1. ^ "Niemen – czy go jeszcze pamiętasz?". TVP. January 18, 2009. Archived from the original on January 21, 2009. Retrieved February 8, 2009. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Krzak
  4. ^ a b c
  5. ^,368202,title,Dziwny-jest-ten-swiat,plyta.html
  6. ^
  7. ^,368263,title,Sukces,plyta.html
  8. ^,368233,title,Czy-mnie-jeszcze-pamietasz,plyta.html
  9. ^,368245,title,Enigmatic,plyta.html
  10. ^,368219,title,Niemen-Czerwony-Album,plyta.html
  11. ^,368286,title,Terra-Deflorata,plyta.html
  12. ^,53340,title,Spodchmurykapelusza,plyta.html
  13. ^,prod180020,muzyka-p
  14. ^
  15. ^ a b c
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Czesław Niemen na monetach kolekcjonerskich NBP"
  21. ^ "Banknoty i monety. Monety okolicznościowe z 2009 r."

External links[edit]