Veljko Despot

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Veljko Despot, Croatian, record company executive and journalist

Veljko Despot (born March 4, 1948) is Croatian music journalist and record business entrepreneur.

He is a well-known name from Croatia in music and entertainment industry. A record business entrepreneur, product manager, music producer and record company executive, a journalist. He has been involved in all aspects of the music industry as top-level manager-director, owner of a record label, music journalist, reporter, chief editor, radio and TV program director.

Born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, since 1950 lives in Zagreb. Croat. Family ties in Dalmatia, Zagreb and Moscow. Father Žarko is born 1921 in Zaostrog, Croatia, a respectful businessman in Zagreb. Mother Mirjana is born 1925 in Moscow, a violoncellist graduated in Moscow and in Zagreb Conservatory (studying under Antonio Janigro, extraaordinary Italian cellist), later as gifted teacher based in Zagreb she educated many Croatian cellists.


At age of 18 Veljko Despot started his career in beginning of 1967 in local press ("Plavi vjesnik") reporting from London on swinging sixties and trilling pop and rock scene. He was the first journalist from former Yugoslavia who specializes in covering international popular music. The first and only East European journalist who has interviewed The Beatles. This interview was published as one of his first articles, in "Plavi vjesnik" (April 17, 1967).

In late sixties writes in "Plavi vjesnik", "Arena", "Studio" and "Vjesnik", major Croatian papers. Had published interviews with many big artists, such as Pink Floyd, The Hollies, Bee Gees, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Marc Bolan etc.

Signed in 1967 as a producer by the biggest Yugoslav record label Jugoton, a first record producer agreement in Yugoslav recording industry. Produces in 1967 an EP release for famous Slovenian rock group Kameleoni. In 1968 produces their soundtrack for a movie "Sončni krik" ("Sunny Cry") by Boštjan Hladnik, legendary Slovenian film director.

Founded in 1968 in Zagreb the Jugoslavenski Beatles Fan Club/The Yugoslav Beatles Fan Club, a branch of The Official Beatles Fan Club from Liverpool, covering most of East European countries.

Co-founder and on the board of editors of the "Pop Express" from Zagreb (1969–1970), one of first music papers in Yugoslavia, a legendary magazine that soon reaches cult status.

Since 1971, already a leading name in local rock music journalism, also contributes abroad, New Musical Express.

Veljko Despot (left) and George Harrison at the Abbey Road Studios in London, 1967

Had a rare privilege to attend recording sessions by some of the greatest rock artists and witnessed creation some of the most important albums in music history, like The Beatles "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (London, 1967), Rolling Stones "Let It Bleed" (London, 1969), Pink Floyd "Ummagumma" (London, 1969) and Arsen Dedić "Homo volans" (Zagreb, 1973) and wrote about it.

From 1968 contributes as freelance on radio stations and since 1972 on the Yugoslavian Radio Television (Jugoslavenska radiotelevizija or Jugoslovenska radio-televizija, JRT), on Croatian Radio Television and subnational radio and TV centers based in Belgrade, Ljubljana and Sarajevo. Throughout the seventies, eighties and nineties had numerous music reports on television, interviews, portraits and special programs, all concerning international popular music. Also a music director in TV drama. In the mid-seventies brings first music videos on Yugoslav television and in eighties introduces first music advertising on national TV.

In 1974, he ties with Jugoton and establishes International Department for this biggest record company in Yugoslavia. Acquires major license deals for the company and works with some of the greatest labels in the world and their artists, managers and publishers, record company executives, for their product releases in the territory of former Yugoslavia. Jugoton in seventies through eighties and up to beginning of nineties had licence for majority of international repertoire and had exclusive deals with majors and many independent international record companies, such as EMI, Warner Music, BMG, Decca, Island, Chrysalis, Virgin, Motown and many more, covering majority of best international production in record business. This was the only record company in this part of Europe and all of Eastern Europe which has been releasing consecutive for decades international repertoire, much due to own mission by Veljko Despot.

He was also music editor on two most successful albums by most popular group in Yugoslavia ever Bijelo dugme, in 1975 for "Šta bi dao da si na mom mjestu" and in 1976 for "Eto! Baš hoću". Both albums were recorded in Air Studios, London and produced by Neil Harrison.

Veljko Despot and Tina Turner in Graz, 1985

At his post in record business in Croatia he initiates and helped bringing to Yugoslavia many important artists, like Deep Purple in 1975, The Rolling Stones (1976), Paul McCartney & Wings (1976), Queen (1979), Elton John (1984), Dire Straits (1985), Laurie Anderson (1990), Eros Ramazzotti (1990, 1994), Pet Shop Boys (1991), David Bowie (1990, 1996, 1997) and many more. For most of these artists it was their first visit in East Europe and a thrill for their fans who had first opportunity to see major international rock artists playing live.

In 20 years of successful running International Division in Jugoton as a music editor and international director he managed to release in this part of Europe thousands of most important albums, singles and music videos in history of popular music, making doors wide open to pop and rock culture in Yugoslavia and East Europe.

In 1991 after Croatia became independent from old Yugoslavia, Jugoton became Croatia Records and he remained with the company until 1994.

In 1994, he establishes and runs his own record company Koncept VD, a label exclusively representing BMG Music, MCA, Geffen Records and GRP Records repertoire in new states on territory of former Yugoslavia. Signs domestic artists as well - greatest Croatian singer-songwriter Arsen Dedić and big club attraction from Zagreb the Soul Fingers. Their albums on Koncept label won prestigious award Porin for best releases in Croatia. With his own record company he set in the nineties new standards for operations of such a label in Croatia and in 1998 he received a recognition from the Croatian government as one of top private entrepreneurs in Croatia.

Veljko Despot in Rovinj

In 1999, he created and runs since the Simbol Music, a consulting company that assists other artists and labels in being involved in the music business.

In 2000 and 2001, he also runs the Cantus label (a record division of the Croatian Composers' Society, HDS). Signs for the label many big names in Croatian popular music (Tony Cetinski, Arsen Dedić, Goran Karan, Matija Dedić, Tamara Obrovac, etc.) and releases their albums, winning many new Porin awards again.

The Neweurope Corporation (NEC) from Florida signed him in a year 2001 in utilizing his services. It is a private corporation with a unique “Click-Media-Mortar” business model centered around the New Europe theme. NEC targets over 28 million 1st and 2nd generation Europeans living in the U.S.A. and millions of others who want or like something European. He is in the management of Neweurope Corporation and is a corporate partner at post as the Director of Neweurope Media & Entertainment Center (NEMEC), running and operating this European center that screens out the best of music, recording artists, their releases, songs and videos, as well as European TV programs, for marketing in the United States.

He is one of founding members of the Croatian Phonographic Association, HDU (established in 1995).

Is one of three founding members of Croatian music award Porin (established in 1993) for outstanding achievements in Croatian recording industry, an equivalent of the Grammy Awards.

Since 1993 he is a member of The Recording Academy in the United States and since 2000 he is also a member of The Latin Recording Academy. In a year 2008 when The Recording Academy was celebrating 51 years of servicing the recording community he, as "the heart and soul of our organization", was honoured "in appreciation and recognition of 15 years of membership in the Academy and supporting its education, advocacy and human services initiatives".

Lifetime Achievement Award Porin for outstanding accomplishments in the recording industry in Croatia has been presented to Veljko Despot at the Porin Award ceremony held on May 11, 2013 in Rijeka, Croatia. Presenter of this trophy to Veljko Despot on behalf of the Croatian Music Institute at the annual ceremony was famous musician and poet Arsen Dedić, an influential figure in popular music and culture for more than five decades in this part of the world.


External links[edit]

HDU (Croatian Phonographic Association) (2000). "HDU (Croatian Phonographic Assotiation)" (in Croatian). HDU (Croatian Phonographic Association). 

Dragutin Matošević, Editor in Chief, Barikada (April 2004). "Barikada" (in Croatian). Barikada.