Rasputin (song)

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Boney M. - Rasputin (1978 single).jpg
Single by Boney M.
from the album Nightflight to Venus
B-side"Never Change Lovers in the Middle of the Night" (Europe, Australia, Mexico, Japan, Colombia, Canada, New-Zealand)

"Heart Of Gold" (Brazil)

"Nightflight To Venus" (Poland, Chile)

"Painter Man" (Europe, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Madagascar, Bolivia, India)

Rasputin Part.II (Ecuador)

He Was A Steppenwolf (Rhodesia, U.S.A, South Africa)
Released28 August 1978
RecordedMay 1978
Length3:41 (The Magic of Boney M. version)
4:26 (Gold - 20 Super Hits version)
4:42 (single version)
5:51 (album version)
6:04 (2nd LP version)
6:28 (1st LP version)
7:32 (12" version)
Boney M. singles chronology
"Rivers of Babylon" / "Brown Girl in the Ring"
"Mary's Boy Child – Oh My Lord"
Music video
"Rasputin" (Sopot Festival 1979) on YouTube

"Rasputin" is a 1978 Euro disco hit single by the Germany-based pop and Euro disco group Boney M., the second from their album Nightflight to Venus. It was written by the group's creator Frank Farian, along with George Reyam and Fred Jay. It is a semi-biographical song about Grigori Rasputin, a friend and advisor of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his family during the early 20th century. The song describes Rasputin as a playboy, mystical healer, and political manipulator.


Grigori Rasputin, the subject of the song

"Rasputin" references the hope held by Tsaritsa Alexandra Fyodorovna that Grigori Rasputin would heal her hemophiliac son, Tsarevich Alexei of Russia. It also claims that Rasputin was Alexandra's paramour: "Ra Ra Rasputin, lover of the Russian queen, there was a cat that really was gone", "Russia's greatest love machine", "to Moscow chicks he was such a lovely dear". The song claims that Rasputin's political power overshadowed that of the Tsar himself in "all affairs of state". When his sexual and political acts became intolerable, "men of higher standing" plotted his downfall, although "the ladies begged" them not to. Although the song states "he was a brute", it claims that the ladies "just fell into his arms."

The end of the song recounts a modified version of a popular description of the events that culminated in Rasputin's assassination, as perpetrated by Felix Yusupov, Vladimir Purishkevich, and Dmitri Pavlovich, on 16 December 1916 (O.S.). The song claims that Rasputin's assassins fatally shot him after he survived the poisoning of his wine.

While the song accurately re-tells many of the unfavorable rumors that damaged Rasputin's reputation, there is no verifiable evidence to suggest that he had an affair with Alexandra. Frank Farian's American friend Bill Swisher, who was a soldier in Germany at the time, provides spoken vocals at the bridge in the form of a newsreader. Swisher has also guested on Boney M. singles such as "Ma Baker" and "El Lute".

AllMusic's journalist Donald A. Guarisco described it as "a tribute to the legendary Russian historical figure that uses balalaikas to create its textured rhythm guitar hook."[1] Its melody has been compared to that of the traditional Turkish song "Kâtibim", but the band denied any similarity.[2][3]

Reception and legacy[edit]

The song rose to the top of the charts in Germany and Austria and went to No. 2 in the United Kingdom and Switzerland. It was also another No. 1 hit for Boney M. in Australia, giving them their second (and last) chart-topper in that country (the other one being "Rivers of Babylon").

AllMusic's Donald A. Guarisco called the track "the oddest and most unusual and interesting combination of musical elements" from Nightflight to Venus, then picked it as one of his "track picks" from the album.[1]

Although the song was written and performed in English, with single German and Russian words – "But the kasatschok he danced really wunderbar!" – it enjoyed great popularity in the Soviet Union, and is credited with reviving the fame of Rasputin there.[4] The song was omitted, however, from the Soviet pressing of the album and Boney M. were barred from performing the song during their ten performances in Moscow in December 1978.[citation needed] During their visit to Poland in 1979, the band performed the song despite being asked not to by government officials. The show in Sopot was broadcast on national TV the next day after the song was edited out of their performance, but it was broadcast on the radio live and in full.[5][6]

The song has been covered by several other bands in varying musical styles. Finnish band Turisas recorded a folk metal version, while Boiled in Lead covered it as a folk punk song. The British comic book Nikolai Dante cited a lyric from the song for the title of its story called "Russia's Greatest Love Machine" in the 1997 issue of 2000 AD. The Washington, D.C.-based dance/rock band Ra Ra Rasputin takes its name from the song.[7] A Spanish version by Fangoria was included on their compilation album Dilemas, amores y dramas (2003). Russian metal cover project Even Blurry Videos released their version of the song on YouTube in August 2019.


The album pressings of Nightflight to Venus feature the title track segued into "Rasputin". Initial LP pressings included the full-length, 6:26 version of "Rasputin",[8] most notable for an instrumental interlude in the third verse between the lines "though he was a brute, they just fell into his arms" and "Then one night some men of higher standing ..." that was later cut out. The second LP pressing featured a 6:03 version, subsequent pressings a 5:51 version. Boney M.'s single edit is completely different from the edit used for Frank Farian's Gilla recording in German that followed in November 1978 (without success).


The German and Benelux pressings were backed with "Painter Man"; for most other territories the B-side chosen was "Never Change Lovers in the Middle of the Night". The UK pressings had a 5:32 version; most countries faded it to 5:02, while the French Carrere Records release had a 4:45 version. In the United Kingdom, "Painter Man" was issued as an A-side single in February 1979, giving the group a No. 10 hit. In Canada, "Rasputin" was the A-side and became a major hit, topping the Canadian RPM magazine's Adult Contemporary singles chart for two weeks beginning 24 March 1979, and peaking at No. 7 on RPM's Top 100 pop singles chart that same week.[9][10] Despite the Canadian success, the song failed to chart in the United States. In late January 2021, almost 43 years since it was released as a single, the song went viral on TikTok, also appearing on Spotify’s “Viral Hits” playlist.[11]


Sales and certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[29] Platinum 150,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[30] Gold 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[31] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Turisas version[edit]

Rasputin (Turisas).jpg
Single by Turisas
from the album The Varangian Way
Released21 September 2007
Recorded2007 at Sound Supreme Studio, Hämeenlinna
GenreFolk metal
Producer(s)Mathias "Warlord" Nygård, Janne Saska
Turisas singles chronology
"To Holmgard and Beyond"
Music video
TURISAS – Rasputin (OFFICIAL VIDEO) on YouTube

Finnish folk metal band Turisas recorded a cover of Rasputin, released on 21 September 2007 through Century Media.[32] The band played the cover live for a few years and finally decided to record a studio version of it because of positive feedback from fans.[33] A music video was shot as well.

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Rasputin" – 3:56
  2. "Battle Metal" – 4:23

A limited edition 7" picture vinyl features "The Court of Jarisleif" as the B-side.

Different regions contained different B-sides. Canadian, South American, Asian and some European releases featured "Never Change Lovers in the Middle of the Night," the US release featured "He Was a Steppenwolf." The Polish and Chilean releases featured "Night Flight to Venus" and remaining European releases featured "Painter Man" as the B-side.

iTunes edition:
  1. "Rasputin" – 3:53
  2. "Rasputin" (Heavy Demo Version) – 3:53
  3. "Rasputin" (Instrumental) – 3:51



"Rasputin" inspired multiple songs and is featured in one or more films.

Jatin-Lalit sampled "Rasputin" for the song "Sachi Ye Kahani Hai" from Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1994).[34]

In the 2003 Malayalam film Balettan, the song "Baletta Baletta" was inspired by "Rasputin". The song was composed by M. Jayachandran.[35]

In the 2012 Indian film Agent Vinod there is a Hindi-language song titled "I'll Do the Talking"; the song is a partial interpolation of "Rasputin".[36]

In early 2021 on the video sharing site TikTok it became very popular for various accounts to do videos of themselves & or with others performing the dance from Ubisoft's 2010 video game Just Dance 2.[37]


  1. ^ a b Guarisco, Donald A. "Boney M – Nightflight to Venus". AllMusic. All Media Network, LLC. Retrieved 3 October 2016.
  2. ^ Plastino, Goffredo (2003). Mediterranean Mosaic: Popular Music and Global Sounds. Psychology Press. p. 217. ISBN 9780415936569.
  3. ^ Plastino, Goffredo (2013). Mediterranean Mosaic: Popular Music and Global Sounds. From "About this book": "First published in 2003. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.". Routledge. p. 164. ISBN 9781136707766. “Rasputine” by Boney M was hotly debated in the 1970s due to its similarity to the “Katibim,” a traditional Istanbul tune, but this similarity was denied by the band.
  4. ^ Dave Carpenter, "Rasputin is fondly remembered; Russia's mad monk is Uncle Grigory in Pokrovskoye", The Montreal Gazette, 15 July 1995, p. J.4.
  5. ^ Little, Harriet Fitch (19 September 2016). "The Life of a Song: 'Rasputin'". www.ft.com. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
  6. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16y1AkoZkmQ
  7. ^ "CD review: Ra Ra Rasputin's 'Ra Ra Rasputin'". The Washington Post. 10 December 2010.
  8. ^ "Boney M. – Nightflight To Venus (Vinyl, LP, Album)". Discogs.com. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  9. ^ "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". collectionscanada.gc.ca.
  10. ^ "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". collectionscanada.gc.ca.
  12. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (Illustrated ed.). Australian Chart Book. p. 41. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  13. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Boney M. – Rasputin" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  14. ^ "Ultratop.be – Boney M. – Rasputin / Painter Man" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  15. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 0134a." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  16. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Boney M. – Rasputin" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  17. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Boney M". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  18. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Boney M. – Rasputin / Painter Man" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  19. ^ "Charts.nz – Boney M. – Rasputin". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  20. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Boney M. – Rasputin". VG-lista. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  21. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  22. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Boney M. – Rasputin". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  23. ^ "Boney M: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  24. ^ "Lescharts.com – Boney M. – Rasputin" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  25. ^ "Boney M – Hot Canadian Digital Song Sales". Billboard. Retrieved 14 February 2021.
  26. ^ "Veckolista Heatseeker, vecka 5" (in Swedish). Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved 13 February 2021.
  27. ^ "Boney M 2 Chart History (Hot Dance/Electronic Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 23 February 2021.
  28. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 430. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  29. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Boney M – Rasputin". Music Canada. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  30. ^ "Dutch single certifications – Boney M. – Rasputin" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Retrieved 13 July 2019. Enter Rasputin in the "Artiest of titel" box.
  31. ^ "British single certifications – Boney M. – Rasputin". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 13 July 2019. Select singles in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Rasputin in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  32. ^ "TURISAS – premiere Rasputin video clip!". Turisas.com. 7 September 2007. Archived from the original on 8 September 2007. Retrieved 9 September 2007.
  33. ^ "TURISAS – TO RELEASE 'RASPUTIN' AS A SINGLE". Turisas.com. 31 July 2007. Archived from the original on 8 September 2007. Retrieved 9 September 2007.
  34. ^ Verma, Anurag (23 November 2016). "28 Bollywood Songs That You Didn't Know Were Copied Or 'Inspired'". HuffPost. India. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  35. ^ "Perfect scores". The Hindu. 22 November 2008. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  36. ^ "Pritam buys Boney M's Rasputin's rights". The Times of India. 3 February 2012. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
  37. ^ Aswad, Jem (16 December 2020). "Inside TikTok's First Year-End Music Report". Variety. Retrieved 18 January 2021.

External links[edit]