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|Birth name||Mate Kovač|
|Also known as||Mišo|
July 16, 1941 |
|Genres||Pop-folk, Dance-pop, Disco-pop|
Mate Kovač was born to Zrinka and Jakov Kovač on 16 July 1941 in Tribunj, a modern-day Croatian town close to Šibenik at a time when the region was under Italian occupation during World War II. He had a sister named Blanka and a brother named Ratko. His paternal family is of distant Sicilian origin.
While still young Mišo Kovač was learning the trade of carpet maker, but his appearance at a talent show in Karlovac changed his life. There, he made such an impression with his rendition of "I Can't Stop Loving You" by Ray Charles that he decided to become a professional singer. His first hit came in 1969 with the song "Više se neće vratiti" (written by Đorđe Novković, sold in half a million copies and had similar success with a 1985 version of the song) and in 1971 he won the prestigious Split Music Festival with the song "Proplakat će zora" (also half a million copies).
Most of his songs were inspired by Dalmatian folk music, and soon Mišo Kovač establish himself as the most popular musician of the former Yugoslavia. In the next two decades, Mišo Kovač won many prestigious festival awards, topped music charts and sold vinyl discs, cassettes and CDs in record numbers. His song "Dalmacija u mom oku" (Dalmatia In My Eye) was and still is seen as a semi-official anthem of Dalmatia.
Mišo Kovač was also one of the first entertainers in the country to use image and lifestyle in order to maintain popularity. In 1973 he married beauty queen Anita Baturina with whom he would have two children, son Edi (in 1975) and daughter Ivana. He also took to wearing expensive clothes, while his moustache and shoulder-length black hair became a trademark of his own.
Kovač's first appearance on Croatian television after the collapse of Yugoslavia occurred in 1991 during the war when Mišo Kovač showed his patriotism with a song inspired by attacks from the Krajina Serbs and JNA on his native Šibenik, "Grobovi im nikad oprostiti neće" (The Graves Will Never Forgive Them).
At the same time Mišo Kovač's 16-year-old son Edi joined special unit of Croatian Army called Škorpioni (the Scorpions). In the beginning of 1992 Edi Kovač was fatally shot in Zagreb in debatable circumstances, with death being officially declared an accident. Mišo Kovač was deeply affected by the tragedy and refused to believe the official reasons for death. He claimed that his son was murdered and his quest to find his son's killers got him in contact with the far right Croatian Party of Rights. He began to support the party and appear on the rallies, dressing in the black uniform of the Croatian Defence Forces (HOS), the party's militia. He also changed his first name Mišo to Mate.
At the same time, Mišo Kovač also announced his retirement from the music business and held series of farewell concerts, most memorable being held on Poljud Stadium in 1993. Despite his announcement, he continued to record new albums and new songs.
Although he has not regained the popularity he had during the 1970s and 1980s, Mišo Kovač still enjoys the reputation of a musical legend and has many loyal fans all over the former Yugoslavia.