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|Birth name||Mišo Kovač|
|Also known as||Mate Mišo Kovač|
|Born||July 16, 1941|
|Genres||Pop-folk, Schlager, Country pop|
|Labels||Jugoton/Croatia Records, Suzy, Maestral, Studio, CBS|
Mišo Kovač a.k.a. Mate Mišo Kovač (born 16 July 1941), is a Croatian singer of pop-folk and schlager music. He is the biggest selling artist from Croatia, with well over 20 million records, cassettes and compact discs sold to date.
Mišo Kovač was born to Zrinka and Jakov Kovač on July 16, 1941, in Tribunj, a modern-day Croatian town near 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.
During his youth Mišo Kovač lived in the same street in Šibenik as Vice Vukov (b. August 3, 1936 in Šibenik; d. September 24, 2008 in Zagreb) and Arsen Dedić (b. July 28, 1938 in Šibenik; d. August 17, 2015 in Zagreb). Mišo made the HNK Šibenik (Founded in 1921, they were in the Yugoslav Second Division at the time) junior team as a goal-keeper and also barracked for HNK Hajduk Split (Established in 1911, they were in the Yugoslav First Division at the time), often travelling by boat from Šibenik to Split on game day to see HNK Hajduk Split play. His earliest goals in life were to eventually represent HNK Hajduk Split, but that changed at age 16 when he heard Ljube Lučev sing and then devoted himself entirely to music. His early musical influences were Italian artists Luciana Tajolija, Tony Dellaga and Adriano Celentano, as well as American singers, Johnnie Ray, Elvis Presley, and later Willie Nelson. In 1961 he shared equal first place with Mirko Vukšić, future guitarist with Croatian group Mi [We], in a talent contest called "Prvi glas Šibenika" (First voice of Šibenik), where he covered an Elvis Presley hit.
He then served in the Yugoslav Army, being stationed at Belgrade, where he sang every Saturday night to his fellow conscripts and friends. After military service he went to live in Zagreb, hoping to develop his career. His first big break came in 1964 at a talent contest in Karlovac, where he was noticed by leading music producers after singing "Ne mogu prestat da te volim" (his rendition of I Can't Stop Loving You by Ray Charles), which also became his first recording soon after.
In very short time four of his singles/EP's were certified Silver (with sales of over 50,000) - they included: "Ja odlazim" (I'm Leavin') (1966 EP), "Vrijeme plakanja" (Crying time) (1967 EP), San Francisko (San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair)) (1968 EP) and "Da je duži moj dan" (If I only had time) (1968).
His first huge hit came in 1969 with the song, "Više se nećeš vratiti" (You won't be coming back), written by Đorđe Novković and selling well over 400,000 copies (later re-recorded in 1985), as well as a Gold disc award for "Čemu da živim" (What should I live for), and in 1970 he earned another Silver disc award with "Serenada" (Seranade).
In 1971, he won his first prestigious Split Festival with the song, "Proplakat će zora" (Dawn will cry), which went on to sell well over half a million copies and could be the best selling single ever in the former Yugoslavia (but very difficult to prove since the war). Mišo donated all his earnings from the song to building a new highway from Zagreb to Split. He also gained two other Silver disc awards in 1971 with the hits, "Mornaru za sretan put" (Sailor have a safe trip) and "Za mene sreće nema" (There is no luck for me). He also released his first album in 1971, self-titled, and it eventually earned him a Platinum award for sales of well over 200,000 copies.
He nearly died in a car accident near Zadar in 1971 when his car was completely destroyed and as a result he had a scar above his upper lip. During his recovery Mišo decided to let his moustache grow to hide his scar, and the moustache later became his trademark.
In 1972, Mišo went to see one of his idols, Elvis Presley, perform live at New York's Madison Square Garden, and the King's rendition of Frank Sinatra hit, "My Way" left a lasting impression on him. In the same year back at home he was awarded another Gold disc award with, "Zalij to cvijeće suzama sreće" (Pour this flower with tears of happiness).
Another Gold Disc award came in 1974 with the hit, "Drugi joj raspliće kosu a ja je volim" (Somebody else untangles her hair but I love her) (with sales of well over 100,000). The following year he recorded "Ostala si uvjek ista" (You remained always the same), which Mišo later claimed was his personal best recording of his career. That song was re-issued ten years later on an album with the same title which sold well over 400,000 copies (certified Diamond award and his best selling album ever).
Further gold discs followed, with "Noćas ćemo zemlji k'o materi reći" (Tonight our homeland will be spoken of like our mothers) in 1977, "Dobra ti večer, mati moja" (Good evening, to my mother) in 1980, "Dalmacija u mom oku" (Dalmatia in my eyes) in 1982 [which is still seen as a semi-official anthem of Dalmatia, although it didn't even make the national charts when first released but a live version hit #2 in 1988], and "Šibenske kale" (Streets of Šibenik) in 1982. Then, between 1985-88 he issued some of his biggest hits and well known songs like, "Ako me ostaviš" (If you leave me), "Jedan dan života" (One day of life), Sutra mi sude (Tomorrow they will judge me), "Odavno više ne plačem zbog tebe" (I stopped crying long ago about you), "Ja nemam više razloga da živim" (I don't have any reason to live), "Ti si pjesma moje duše" (Seven Spanish Angels, title translates as "You're the song of my soul'), "Svi pjevaju, ja ne čujem" (Everybody's singing, but I can't hear) and many others.
Four of his albums released in the 1980s earned Platinum awards with sales of over 200,000, with "Dalmacija u mom oku" (Dalmatia in my eyes) in 1982, "Zajedno smo" (We are together) in 1984, "Mali mi je jedan život" (One life is too short) in 1987 and "Mišo! Koncert" (Mišo! Concert, recorded live) in 1988.
In the next two decades, Mišo Kovač won many prestigious festival awards, topped music charts (albeit not so much the national Yugoslavian charts) and sold well over 20 million records during his long and successful career (making him the biggest ever selling artist in the former Yugoslavia).
Mišo Kovač divorced his first wife Ljubica Komadina after four years of marriage, and in 1973 he married former Miss Teen Yugoslavia of 1970, Anita Baturina (b. June 1, 1953 in Split), they had two children, son Eduard 'Edi' Kovač (b. June 3, 1975 in Split; d. April 9, 1992 in Zagreb) and daughter Ivana Kovač (b. September 1, 1977 in Zagreb, she's also a renowned singer in her own right).
His life and career turned sour with the outbreak of war in Croatia and his first appearance on Croatian television after the collapse of Yugoslavia occurred in 1991 during Croatian War of Independence when Mišo Kovač showed his reluctant 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 son, 'Edi', joined the special unit of Croatian Army called Škorpioni [the Scorpions] and in 1992 he was fatally shot in Zagreb in controversial circumstances, with his death being officially declared as an accident. Mišo Kovač was deeply affected by the tragedy and refused to believe the official reason for his sons death. He claimed that his son was murdered and his quest to find his son's killers got him involved with the far right Croatian Party of Rights. He began to support the party and appear at their rallies, dressing in the black uniform of the Croatian Defence Forces (HOS), the party's militia. He also changed his first name from Mišo to Mate.
The death of his son had a devastating effect on his personal life and marriage, and in 1996 he divorced Anita Baturina, followed by years of alcohol abuse and severe depression caused him to try and commit suicide by shooting himself in the chest in 1999. After fully recovering and returning to the music scene, he married Lydia Pintarić. Kovač often spoke about his loyalty and gratitude to Lydia and the importance of their relationship and marriage she had towards his recovery.
He's also been quoted saying that he still only needs "a carton of tobacco, 5 coffees, half a pizza and one coca cola drink to survive each day", which he made when the media in Croatia issued reports that all the money he earned during his fame has been spent on the many women he loved in his life and that he was penniless.
In 2012, Institut hrvatske glazbe [Institute of Croatian Music] presented Mišo Kovač with the Porin za životno djelo [Porin award for life achievement], and he still enjoys the reputation and fame of a musical legend and has many loyal fans all over the former Yugoslavia.
In 2016, he released a new single, "Takav Sam Rođen".
Also in 2016, his 1987 hit "Poljubi zemlju" was played on the Mars rover Opportunity, the first ever pop song from Croatia (and probably any Eastern European country for that matter) to be played on an alien planet.
Splitski festival (Split Festival) 1969-80
After winning the 1980 Split Festival, Mišo Kovač declared he wouldn't appear in any other song festivals. He won the festival five times, more than any other artist in the former Yugoslavia at the time, and three of those songs that won (1971, 1977, 1980) topped the nationwide music charts in Yugoslavia.
1969 - Bez tebe nisam sretan [Without you I'm not happy] - written by Ivica Krajač and Alfi Kabiljo
1970 - Serenada [Seranade] - written by Vinko Lesić
1971 - Proplakat će zora [Dawn will cry] - written by Dragutin Britvić and Stjepan Mihaljinec *** WON 1st. place *** (#1)
1972 - Odvest ću te na vjenčanje [I will take you to a wedding] - written by Stjepan Mihaljinec (#18)
1973 - Bijela lađa [White ship] - written by Tomislav Zuppa and Zdenko Runjić
1974 - Obala mojih snova [The coast of my dreamland] written by Đorđe Novković and Dušan Šarac
1975 - Ja ne mogu drugo nego da te ljubim [I can't do anything else except love you] - written by Drago Britvić *** WON 1st. place ***
1976 - did not enter
1977 - Noćas ćemo zemlji k'o materi reći [Tonight our homeland will be spoken of like our mothers] - written by Dragutin Britvić and Stjepan Mihaljinec *** WON 1st. place *** (#1)
1978 - Šuti srce, mogli bi te čuti [Be quiet heart, we might hear you] - written by Dragutin Britvić
1979 - Ne tuguj, Dalmacijo [Don't grieve, Dalmatia] - written by Gordan Franić and Teo Trumbić *** WON 1st. place *** (#2)
1980 - Dobra ti večer, mati moja [Good evening, to my mother] - written by Krsto Juras and Dušan Šarac *** WON 1st. place *** (#1)