Ryszard Riedel

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Ryszard Henryk Riedel (7 September 1956, in Chorzów – 30 July 1994, in Chorzów) – was the original lead singer of blues-rock band Dżem (Polish for 'Jam'). He is often regarded as one of the most popular and well known Polish vocalist, along with an occasional collaborator Czesław Niemen. Riedel's legacy is remembered by an annual festival, bearing his name, held in his home town of Chorzów, which was moved from Tychy in 2009.He has become one of the most powerful vocalist of Polish music just after Czesław Niemen. Today the remembering of his history turned to the festival in Tychy in Poland.


Ryszard Henryk Riedel was born on 7 September 1956 in Chorzów. He was the second child of Krystyna and Jan Riedel—his sister Małgorzata is one year older. He finished his education after the 7th grade of primary school. He was a self-taught vocalist and he had never attended a singing course. His wide musical influences included bands like Free (Paul Rodgers was Riedel`s favourite vocalist), and later, Bad Company, Cream, The Allman Brothers Band, and The Doors. At the beginning of his career he was asked to join Kombi, but he turned down the offer. In December 1973, at the age of 17, he joined Dżem. During the band's initial years he was instrumental in keeping it together. His lyrics contained many autobiographical pieces, because he used his life as the inspiration for many, if not all, of his songs. Throughout his career he collaborated with many Polish artists: Rysiek Skibiński, Leszek Winder, Józef Skrzek, and bands Nocna Zmiana Bluesa, to name a few. In the later years of his singing career he became a heavy drug user (mainly heroin), which led to numerous arguments within the band, and subsequently resulted in Ryszard living his life as an outsider: he skipped rehearsals many times, and even managed not to show up for his concerts. This lifestyle was the inspiration for the 1993 song "Autsajder" (Outsider), in which he states that he will never change: "Ja już nigdy się nie zmienię" Despite his deteriorating health condition, the band continued to collaborate with him until he was forced to attend another failed drug detoxification (detox) campaign in 1994. His last Concert with the band "Dżem" was on 16 March 1994 in Kraków.


Riedel's direct cause of death was cardiac insufficiency due to a long time opiate drug abuse—especially kompot 'compote', which, in Poland, is a name used to describe heroin in a liquified form.


Rysiek (diminutive of Ryszard) Riedel is celebrated as one of the best all-time singers in Polish musical history. On 29 July 1995, one year after his death, a concert named "List Do R" ("Letter to R"), taking inspiration from one of Rysiek's most beloved songs "List Do M" ("Letter to M"), was held in Katowice's concert hall Spodek, where many famous Polish vocalists performed—one of them was Polish singer Czesław Niemen. Since 1999, a concert called "FESTIWAL IM. RYŚKA RIEDLA" is held annually in Riedel's home town. Many Polish top bands, like "Cree"—with lead vocalist Sebastian Riedel (Rysiek Riedel's son)—and Rysiek Riedel's band Dżem, with their new lead singer Maciej Balcar (since 2001, before 2001 the lead singer was Jacek Dewódzki), perform to honor Rysiek's singing legacy and memory. In 2005, Riedel's life story was turned into a film, Destined for Blues (Skazany na blues'a). In the movie, Riedel is portrayed by award-winning Polish actor Tomasz Kot. English musician, Frere, quoted as saying "Ryszard was as great a blues vocalist as ever lived - how sad that he is hardly known outside of Poland"


  • 1983 Krzak'i; Krzak
  • 1985 Dżem; Dżem (later editions named as "Dzień, w którym pękło niebo"- the Day the Sky Broke)
  • 1985 Cegła (The Brick); Dżem
  • 1985 Blues forever; LP of Leszek Winder
  • 1986 Absolutely Live; Dżem
  • 1987 Zemsta nietoperzy (The Revenge of the Bats); Dżem
  • 1988 Lunatycy - czyli tzw. przeboje całkiem Live (The Lunatics or so-called quite light hits); Dżem
  • 1988 Ryszard Skibiński – Ostatni koncert (Ryszard Skibiński- the last concert); LP of Ryszard Skibiński
  • 1988 Live; LP with Józef Skrzek
  • 1989 Urodziny (Birthday {refers to the anniversary of forming the band}); Dżem
  • 1989 Najemnik (Soldier of Fortune); Dżem
  • 1990 Dżem Session 1; Dżem
  • 1991 Detox; Dżem
  • 1992 The Singles; Dżem
  • 1992 Dzień, w którym pękło niebo (The Day the Sky Broke);Dżem
  • 1992 Wehikuł czasu - Spodek '92 (The Time Machine - Spodek [famous polish concert hall] '92 ); Dżem
  • 1993 14 urodziny (14'th Birthday); Dżem
  • 1993 Autsajder (The Outsider); Dżem
  • 1994 Akustycznie (Acoustically); Dżem
  • 2004 Złoty Paw (Golden Peacock); Dżem
  • 2005 Paczka+2 (Pack+2); Krzak
  • 2006 Live; CD with the band "Kasa Chorych" (Healthcare Fund)
  • 2006 Skibiński Winder Super Session
  • 2006 Pamięci Skiby Jarocin 1983 (in memory of Skiba, Jarocin 1983 (Polish former big music festival); Krzak
  • 2010 30 urodziny (30'th Birthday); Dżem