Rasputin (song)

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"Rasputin (traditional song)"
Boney M. - Rasputin (1978 single).jpg
Single by Boney M.
from the album Nightflight to Venus
B-side"Painter Man"
Released28 August 1978
RecordedMay 1978
Boney M. singles chronology
"Rivers of Babylon" / "Brown Girl in the Ring"
"Rasputin (traditional song)"
"Mary's Boy Child – Oh My Lord"
Music video
"Rasputin" (TopPop, 1978) 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. With a tune resembling the second half of the Turkish folk song "Kâtibim", 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 variously sensationalizes 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, despite the fact that "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.[citation needed]

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] Eartha Kitt's 1953 version of "Kâtibim", in which she says "Oh, those Turks" at the 1:30 mark, echoed by Boney M saying "Oh, those Russians" at the end of his song, indicates that someone in the band was almost certainly familiar with Eartha Kitt's version.[4]

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.[5] 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 radio full and live.[citation needed]

The song has been covered by a number of 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.[6] A Spanish version by Fangoria was included on their compilation album Dilemas, amores y dramas (2003).


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",[7] 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.[8][9] Despite the Canadian success, the song failed to chart in the United States.


Chart (1978–79) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[10] 1
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[11] 1
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[12] 1
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[13] 7
France (SNEP)[14] 1
Germany (Official German Charts)[15] 1
Ireland (IRMA)[16] 3
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[17] 5
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[18] 4
Norway (VG-lista)[19] 10
Spain (AFE)[20] 2
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[21] 2
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[22] 2
Chart (2015) Peak
France (SNEP)[14] 138

Sales and certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Netherlands (NVPI)[23] Gold 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[24] Gold 500,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Turisas version[edit]

Rasputin (Turisas).jpg
Single by Turisas
Released21 September 2007
Recorded2007 at Sound Supreme Studio, Hämeenlinna
GenreFolk metal
Producer(s)Mathias Nygård
Turisas singles chronology
"To Holmgard and Beyond"

Finnish folk metal band Turisas recorded a cover of Rasputin, released on 21 September 2007 through Century Media.[25] 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.[26] 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.

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).[27]

In the 2003 Malayalam film Balettan, the song "Baletta Baletta" was inspired by "Rasputin". The song was composed by M. Jayachandran.[28]

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".[29]


  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. ^ Vintage video clips, Eartha Kitt - A Turkish tale in Turkish(Uskudara Giderken) 1953, retrieved 7 January 2019
  5. ^ Dave Carpenter, "Rasputin is fondly remembered; Russia's mad monk is Uncle Grigory in Pokrovskoye," The Montreal Gazette, 15 July 1995, pg. J.4.
  6. ^ "CD review: Ra Ra Rasputin's 'Ra Ra Rasputin'". The Washington Post. 10 December 2010.
  7. ^ "Boney M. - Nightflight To Venus (Vinyl, LP, Album)". Discogs.com. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  8. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". collectionscanada.gc.ca.
  9. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". collectionscanada.gc.ca.
  10. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (Illustrated ed.). Australian Chart Book. p. 41. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  11. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Boney M. – Rasputin" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  12. ^ "Ultratop.be – Boney M. – Rasputin / Painter Man" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  13. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 0134a." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  14. ^ a b "Lescharts.com – Boney M. – Rasputin" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 16 September 2017. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "sc_France_Boney M." defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  15. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Boney M. – Rasputin". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  16. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Boney M". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  17. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Boney M. – Rasputin / Painter Man" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  18. ^ "Charts.nz – Boney M. – Rasputin". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  19. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Boney M. – Rasputin". VG-lista. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  20. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959-2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  21. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Boney M. – Rasputin". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  22. ^ "Boney M: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  23. ^ "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.
  24. ^ "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.
  25. ^ "TURISAS - premiere Rasputin video clip!". Turisas.com. 7 September 2007. Archived from the original on 8 September 2007. Retrieved 9 September 2007.
  26. ^ "TURISAS – TO RELEASE 'RASPUTIN' AS A SINGLE". Turisas.com. 31 July 2007. Archived from the original on 8 September 2007. Retrieved 9 September 2007.
  27. ^ Verma, Anurag (23 November 2016). "28 Bollywood Songs That You Didn't Know Were Copied Or 'Inspired'". HuffPost. India. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  28. ^ "Perfect scores". The Hindu. 22 November 2008. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  29. ^ "Pritam buys Boney M's Rasputin's rights". The Times of India. 3 February 2012. Retrieved 6 February 2012.

External links[edit]