The “golden voice from Prague”: on the death of Karel Gott

By David Sedlecký – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

In 1958 Karel Gott’s career began with performances in Prague dance cafés. The following year he attracted the attention of Czechoslovak band leader Karel Krautgartner, who took him on a tour and recommended him to the Prague Conservatory, where he studied singing for three years. He made his first recordings in English in 1960. His first single, a Czech version of Henry Mancinis Moon River, was released in 1963. In 1967 he took part in the Midem Festival in Cannes and made a six-month guest appearance in Las Vegas.

At the Grand Prix Eurovision 1968 he represented Austria with the song “Tausend Fenster” written by Udo Jürgens. He occupied place 13. In the following year he could be seen in the movie “Charley’s Onkel” in a guest appearance with two hits. In the time after the end of the Prague Spring he considered emigration for a short time during a longer stay in a western country, but finally he returned to Czechoslovakia.

The “golden voice from Prague”, called the pop singer, is estimated to have sold more than 50 million records. His greatest success was probably the title song for the cartoon “Maya the Bee”. But he hardly earned anything directly from it: “I didn’t think about including any option in the contract because I didn’t expect that the song would bring me any success. I was paid to sing for half an hour.”

More than 40 years ago he happened to meet his friend, the composer Karel Svoboda, who wrote the “Biene Maja” title music, in Munich. “He asked me: What are you doing this afternoon? I actually wanted to go for a cup of coffee,” remembers Karel Gott. Instead, he went into the studio and recorded the song in one go, which was to become his greatest success in Germany. “I was actually done in half an hour.”

To commemorate his death we have collected some works by Karel Gott

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