Ivan Král

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Ivan Král
Ivan Kral (2011)
Ivan Kral (2011)
Background information
Born(1948-05-12)12 May 1948
Prague, Czechoslovakia
Died2 February 2020(2020-02-02) (aged 71)
Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.
GenresRock, pop, jazz, alternative rock, protopunk, ambient, electronic
Occupation(s)Guitarist, singer-songwriter, record producer, filmmaker, bassist, pianist, vocalist
InstrumentsGuitar, piano, keyboards, bass, vocals, cello
Years active1966–2020
LabelsArista, PolyGram, Universal, Chrysalis, Sony, BMG, Supraphon, Warner Music
Associated actsPatti Smith, Blondie, Iggy Pop, John Cale, Lucie, Jiri Suchy, Aneta Langerová, Miro Zbirka, Pavel Bobek, Debbi

Ivan Král (12 May 1948 – 2 February 2020) was a Czech-born American composer, filmmaker, record producer, bass guitar player, and singer-songwriter.[1] He worked across genres including punk, rock, jazz, soul, country and film scores. His songs have been recorded by such artists as U2, Pearl Jam, Téléphone,[2] Patti Smith,[3] Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Simple Minds, First Aid Kit, and John Waite, among others. He died of cancer in 2020, aged 71.[4][5]

Early life[edit]

Born in Prague, Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic), Ivan Král moved to the United States in 1966 as a refugee with his parents, who were diplomats. His father Dr. Karel Kral, a reporter at the United Nations, brought worldwide attention to the pending Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and publicly denounced the action,[6] subsequently deciding not to return.[7] Král had refugee status until 1981 when he obtained U.S. citizenship.

Early career and The Patti Smith Group[edit]

Král's American music career began during the early 1970s glam rock scene in New York. His band, Luger,[8] which also featured drummer Shayne Harris,[9] performed at venues including Max's Kansas City,[10] and opened for Kiss at the early shows at the Hotel Diplomat in 1973.[9] After their breakup in 1973, he joined Shaun Cassidy's backing group, then Blondie,[11] then Patti Smith, then Iggy Pop.

Between 1975 and 1979, Král was co-writer, guitarist and bassist of the Patti Smith Group on her first four albums; including debut, Horses (1975), named one of the All-Time 100 Greatest Albums by Time magazine in 2006.[12][13] The album is in the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress, for recordings considered "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".[14]

His work also appears on other Smith albums, including Radio Ethiopia (1976), Easter (1978) and Wave (1979).[15]

Some of Král's songs written during this period include "Ask the Angels", "Pissing in a River", "25th Floor", "Revenge", "Citizen Ship", "Birdland", "Ain't It Strange", "Pumping (My Heart)" and Smith's hit "Dancing Barefoot",[16] which Rolling Stone included in its 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and has been recorded by artists including U2, Simple Minds and Pearl Jam.

Film-making work[edit]

Kral wanted a visual diary of his days in America in case he was ever deported back home to Czechoslovakia where rock music was forbidden, so he bought a Super 8 camera from a pawn shop.[17] He began filming at Murray the K shows in 1968, then eventually got a 16mm camera, on which he filmed other concerts. Some of the clips appear in his 1975 amateur compilation, Night Lunch.

Král also filmed his bandmates and friends at rehearsals, Hotel Chelsea apartments, The Bottom Line, and CBGB. He compiled the footage into a 1976 film titled The Blank Generation, which features the Ramones, Talking Heads, Blondie, New York Dolls, Television, and drag queen Jayne County, before they had record deals. No Wave filmmaker Amos Poe helped Král edit the film by adding music from each band's cassettes and cutting irrelevant scenes.[18]

The Blank Generation D-I-Y clip compilation is often referred to as the original visual document of the birth of New York punk. There are no effects, production, posing, scripts or budget, and it is the source film for many music documentaries worldwide.[19]

Král also shot three short films from 1976 to 1979 titled Rat, Raven, and Rabbit, documenting his days in the Patti Smith Group, with her band backstage and onstage.[20]

After The Patti Smith Group[edit]

In 1979, after Patti Smith's last show in Florence, Italy, Iggy Pop invited Král to Rockfield Studios in Wales to work on his album Soldier, produced by Pat Moran. After the Soldier tour, Král became Iggy's co-writer and guitarist for all the original songs on his 1981 album, Party.[21]

Král hoped to build a career as a film composer by heading to Los Angeles to compose music for the Barry Levinson film Diner (1982),[22] but eventually returned to New York. He wrote and recorded the film scores for three films by underground filmmaker Amos Poe, titled, Unmade Beds, The Foreigner and Subway Riders in his apartment on his mini Moog synthesizer, piano and guitar.[23]

In the 1980s Král was involved in a number of short-term projects. He recorded and toured with John Waite, former singer with The Babys, and co-wrote songs for his album Ignition.[24] Král wrote songs for many other artists, including Mick Ronson, and was involved in rehearsals with British guitarist Chris Spedding and John Cale, formerly of the Velvet Underground, to create a new band, but it never materialized.

Král subsequently formed his own band, Eastern Bloc, with a record deal and video with Passport Records, though the project ended when the label folded in the mid 1980s.[25]

Král also ran a studio in New York from 1982 to 1993, named PAWS,[26] where Mick Jagger, The B-52's, and reggae artists like Kiddus I rehearsed.[27]

Return to Czech Republic[edit]

In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell and the Velvet Revolution brought Communism to an end in Czechoslovakia. Král returned to Prague in 1993, and began working with other rock artists to develop the new Czech rock scene,[28] using his experiences in the west to develop Czech talent and working as a songwriter, producer and musician.[29]

Patti Smith, while still living in Detroit, recorded her poem "Perfect Moon" at 54 Sound studio for Král's 1995 album Nostalgia. John Cale wrote and recorded the piano for the song.[30]

Král worked from his home studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan.[26] His album, Always (2014), was recorded in Detroit and released on Warner Music Czech Republic. His previous ten albums were released on Universal Music Group and Polygram and were recorded in the Czech Republic or in Seattle.[31]

As a producer, Král worked with The Vipers[32] and the Band of Outsiders, as well as Czech bands such as Lucie (on their studio album Černý kočky mokrý žáby) and David Koller, Ivan Hlas, Jiri Suchy, Aneta Langerová, Miroslav Žbirka, Alice,[33] Debbi, Triny, and Garage.[34] He also released many solo albums.

He was a collector of the work of the avant-garde Czech photographer František Drtikol. The video for his song Winner Takes All was inspired by Drtikol's work with the female form.

Král wrote music for the memorial of President Václav Havel, and performed it for live broadcast across the Czech Republic following Havel's funeral at St. Vitus Cathedral.


  • Deliberately Raw: Iggy & the Stooges (1973)
  • Rat (Patti Smith Group) (1976)
  • Raven' (Patti Smith Group) (1977)
  • Rabbit (Patti Smith Group) (1979)



  • The Blank Generation (1976)
  • Rockpalast: Patti Smith Group – on bass guitar and as backing vocalist (1979)[39][40][41]
  • Dancing Barefoot (1995)[42]
  • Mnága – Happy End (1996)
  • Cabriolet (2001)
  • Pátrání po Ester – Documentary (2005)
  • Letem svetem s Kuretem – TV Movie (2011)
  • Show Jana Krause – Episode dated 29 April 2011 – TV Series (2011)
  • Show Jana Krause – Episode dated 5 October 2012 – TV Series (2012)
  • VIP zprávy – Episode dated 16 April 2014 – TV Series (2014)[43]



  • Native (1992)[44]
  • Nostalgia (1995)
  • Looking Back (1996)
  • Native: His Native Complete (1996)
  • Alias (1997) (with Ivan Hlas, David Koller and Karel Šůcha)
  • Modré z nebe (soundtrack) (1997)
  • Prohlédnutí / Clear Eyes (1998)
  • ... "dancing barefoot" (1999)
  • Dancing Reboot ● Ivan Kral ● Remixed (1999)
  • Živě, dětským domovům (live) (1999)
  • Best of Ivan Král (compilation) (2001)
  • Cabriolet (soundtrack) (2001)
  • Photoalbum (2001)
  • Erotická revue (2003)
  • Bang Bang! (2005)
  • Always (2014)[45][46]

with Patti Smith[edit]

with Iggy Pop[edit]

with John Waite[edit]

with Téléphone[edit]

  • Dure Limite "Ce Soir est ce Soir" (1982) his name being wrongly spelt Yvan Kral on some album credits

with John Cale[edit]

with Eastern Bloc[edit]

  • Wall to Wall' (1987)

with Sky Cries Mary[edit]

  • Exit at the Axis (1991)

with Noel Redding and Friends[edit]

  • Live from Bunkr ● Prague (1996)

with Triny Vocal Trio[edit]

  • Gypsy Streams (2001)[47]


  1. ^ "Ivan Kral". Discogs.com.
  2. ^ "Téléphone". Discogs.com.
  3. ^ "Patti Smith". Discogs.com.
  4. ^ Farber, Jim (5 February 2020). "Ivan Kral, Rocker With Patti Smith and Others, Is Dead at 71". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  5. ^ "Zemřel jeden z nejslavnějších českých rockerů Ivan Král. Bylo mu 71 let | Lidé". Lidovky.cz (in Czech). 2 February 2020. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  6. ^ Times, Special to The New York (10 September 1968). "Prague's Reporter at U.n. Is Recalled" – via NYTimes.com.
  7. ^ Bezr, Ondřej (25 June 2010). "Český rocker Ivan Král vstoupil s Patti Smith do Kongresové knihovny" [Czech rocker Ivan Král entered the Congress library with Patti Smith]. Mladá fronta DNES (in Czech). Retrieved 20 August 2014.
  8. ^ "Ivan Kral On the Road Photo ScrapbookIvan Kral & his Luger publicity 1972 photo". Ivankral.net.
  9. ^ a b "SHAYNE HARRIS – DRUMMER". greenpointusa.com. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
  10. ^ "Ivan Kral, le fantôme de Prague. Sur la piste du guitariste de l'ombre, grand absent du Patti Smith Group reformé . Album: "Nostalgia", BMG". Libération.fr. 2 July 1996.
  11. ^ "Love Goes To Buildings On Fire » A chat with Blondie in NYC".
  12. ^ "Is Full List one of the All-TIME 100 Best Albums?" – via entertainment.time.com.
  13. ^ Tyrangiel, Josh (13 November 2006). "Horses by Patti Smith". The All-TIME 100 Albums. United States: Time. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
  14. ^ Ventre, Sarah (24 June 2010). "Patti Smith, Willie Nelson, Tupac and More Inducted into Library of Congress Registry". Phoenix New Times.
  15. ^ Švamberk, Alex (26 August 2005). "Po čtyřech letech vystoupí v Praze Patti Smith". Novinky.cz. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  16. ^ Robert Muller (2 February 2020). Leslie Adler (ed.). "Ivan Kral, author of Dancing Barefoot song, dies, aged 71". Reuters.
  17. ^ "Generational Sounds: Rock Icon Ivan Kral Listens To Metro Detroit". Metromodemedia.com. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  18. ^ Greg Prato (14 August 2001). "Blank Generation/Dancin' Barefoot – Patti Smith | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  19. ^ "Seven Ages of Rock – Programmes – Blank Generation". BBC News. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  20. ^ "Punk (cca 1976 – 1981) – Články – Bigbít – Česká televize". Ceskatelevize.cz. 18 July 2015. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  21. ^ Trynka, Paul (7 December 2011). Iggy Pop: Open Up and Bleed – Paul Trynka. ISBN 9780767927222. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  22. ^ "Diner". Turner Classic Movies.
  23. ^ "Movie Reviews". 30 January 2020 – via NYTimes.com.
  24. ^ "Ignition - John Waite | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic.
  25. ^ "REMEMBERING FRANKIE LaROCKA (4.17.1954 – 5.12.2005) | New York Rocker".
  26. ^ a b "Ivan Král Kral - Biography Patti Smith Iggy Pop Blondie Andy Warhol David Bowie U2 songwriter". Ivankral.net.
  27. ^ amazon – Rising of the Phoenix – Ragz Mo' Rocka
  28. ^ "Ivan Král - diskografie, texty písní, lyrics, karaoke texty". Diskografie.cz.
  29. ^ "Ivan Kral MTV Europe" – via www.youtube.com.
  30. ^ "MusicMe – Patti Smith, John Cale & Ivan Kral – Perfect Moon".
  31. ^ "Ivan Král se vrací s Photoalbem". Mladá fronta DNES. 12 November 2002. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  32. ^ "Vipers, The (4) – Outta The Nest". discogs. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  33. ^ ivankral.net – Ivan was Producer for 1995 album by Czech rock band Alice
  34. ^ "Mňága A Žďorp – Ryzí Zlato". discogs. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  35. ^ "Night Lunch" – via www.imdb.com.
  36. ^ "The Blank Generation" – via www.imdb.com.
  37. ^ "Iggy and the Stooges Live at Academy of Music New York City" – via www.imdb.com.
  38. ^ "Patti Smith Group – Rockpalast 1979". 14 June 2011.
  39. ^ "Patti Smith Group" – via www.imdb.com.
  40. ^ "Patti Smith - My Generation (1979) Germany". YouTube.
  41. ^ "Gilipolladas de Kigonjiro – Patti Smith Group – Rockpalast 1979 DVD".
  42. ^ "Dancing Barefoot". IMDb.com.
  43. ^ "Episode dated 16 April 2014". IMDb.com.
  44. ^ "Ivan Kral - Native". Discogs.com.
  45. ^ "Vydavatelství Warner Music podepsalo smlouvu s Ivanem Kralem, jeho nové album vydá v září". RockAndPop.cz (in Czech). 29 August 2014. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  46. ^ "Ivan Kral: Žiji pro perfektní píseň | Kultura". Lidovky.cz. 27 September 2014.
  47. ^ "Gypsy Streams – Triny Vocal Trio | Credits". AllMusic. 25 September 2001. Retrieved 30 July 2014.

External links[edit]