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Rambo Amadeus in Belgrade, September 2011.
|Born||June 14, 1963|
Kotor, SR Montenegro, SFR Yugoslavia
|Origin||Herceg Novi, Montenegro|
|Genres||Fusion jazz, Rock, experimental, Disco, Hip Hop, Electronic, Film music|
|Instruments||Electric guitar, fretless guitar|
Antonije Pu?i? (Serbian Cyrillic: , 14 June 1963), known professionally as Rambo Amadeus ( ?) is a Montenegrin recording artist, composer and performer, living and working in Serbia. A self-titled "musician, poet, and media manipulator", he is a noted artist across the countries of former Yugoslavia.
His songs combine satirical lyrics on human nature and silliness of local politics with a mixture of musical styles including jazz, rock, hip-hop and lately drum and bass, and self-conscious ironic wit; for example, his most popular alias is "Rambo Amadeus Svjetski Kilo Car"-- "Rambo Amadeus the World Kilo Tzar", formerly "Rambo Amadeus Svjetski Mega Car"-- "Rambo Amadeus the World Mega Tzar" (RASMC) (changed in 2012 because of his belief in the importance of modesty in an environmentally conscious society). His stage name itself is made from John Rambo and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
His concerts are never mere repetitions of recorded songs, but a mixture of musical improvisation and humor exploiting all aspects of human nature in a crude manner. Some fans compare his style and career path with Frank Zappa.
Antonije Pu?i? was born in Kotor, SR Montenegro, SFR Yugoslavia though his family lived in nearby Herceg Novi where he was raised. His writer and painter mother Bosiljka was born in ?uprija and raised in Jagodina, Serbia before meeting Ilija Pu?i? from the coastal village of Kumbor near Herceg Novi and moving there upon marrying him. The couple soon moved to Herceg Novi proper and started a family. After completing elementary and secondary education in his hometown, Antonije graduated in tourism studies from the University of Belgrade's Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. He also completed six grades of elementary music school for piano before dropping out.
Before pursuing music and performing arts as a career choice, Pu?i? was an accomplished competitive sailor. Between 1972 and 1984, he represented Yugoslavia in numerous international regattas. During this period he was champion of Montenegro several times, an 8-time South-Adriatic champion, national title winner in the junior category, as well as International ?erdap Cup winner in 1980. He still occasionally attends and participates in some recreational sailing regattas in the Gulf of Kotor.
He began to sing and compose during first year of high school (gymnasium) which soon led to involvement with various local bands in Herceg Novi and Titograd. One of his first performances saw him play the mandolin in an orchestra that entertained guests of Herceg Novi's Plaza hotel.
In 1985, he moved to Belgrade in pursuit of higher education. Parallel to his university studies, he also played with various amateur bands and musicians.
In 1979 Rambo Amadeus started off in a band called "Radioaktivni otpad," which was short lived. He was also in a band called "The Blues Band." He didn't like the content produced, so he rearranged the setup. The band lasted his four high school years. The band played in Herceg Novi, Nik?i? and Igalo (5 km distance from Herceg Novi).
In 1988, he dropped into the music scene out of nowhere with his debut album O tugo jesenja. His sound was a seemingly coarse blend of folkish ululations and opera, further mixed in with humorous lyrics and classic guitar riffs. Since very few people had prior knowledge of him, Rambo was delighted in creating confusion by introducing himself as Nagib Fazli? Nagon, a mine shaft operator who saved up enough money to record an album. He referred to his own musical style as turbo folk, long before the term would obtain grave social connotations and come to symbolise the moral and cultural decline throughout the Balkans during the wars of the 1990s.
Producer Sa?a Habi? gave Rambo the opportunity to sign for the state television's record company PGP RTB (Rambo later wrote an anecdotal tribute to that event, in the hit song "Balkan Boy"). Habi? also played the synthesiser on this album, from which a track named "Vanzemaljac" (Extraterrestrial) continues to be popular to this day. The record's sales weren't particularly high, but Rambo created enough of a buzz to remain active on the scene.
His next album Ho?emo gusle was released in 1989 and gave a small taste of Rambo's future musical direction - overt political activism. The track "Amerika i Engleska (bi?e zemlja proleterska)" was originally supposed to be named "Kataklizma komunizma" (Cataclysm of Communism) but local authorities did not allow it. The album title pokes fun at a bizarre event from the 1989 protests in Montenegro that eventually grew into the anti-bureaucratic revolution that swept Milo ?ukanovi?, Momir Bulatovi?, and Svetozar Marovi? into power. Protesters were heard chanting "Ho?emo Ruse" ("We want the Russians"), but when the authorities and state-controlled media criticized them for it, many quickly began backpedaling by claiming they actually chanted "Ho?emo gusle" ("We want gusle").
Other songs like "Glupi hit" and afore mentioned "Balkan boy" would also become considerable hits and Rambo even received solid critical acclaim for chances he took in "Samit u buregd?inici Laibach". On that track, he created a catchy hybrid by mixing pretentiously heavy sound of Laibach with poetry of Laza Kosti? and Desanka Maksimovi?, as well as with folk kafana standard "?a?e lomim" and his own turbo-poetry. The album sleeve lists the lyrics of a song that wasn't actually recorded, and explains that "it was dropped at the last moment because there was no room for it," but gives assurances that it would appear on the next album. Since the song in question, named "Pegepe ertebe," was all about taking shots at Rambo's label PGP RTB, it didn't appear on the next, or any subsequent album.
As the 1990s were beginning, Rambo was growing into an established performer. His third album Psiholo?ko propagandni komplet M-91 came out towards the end of 1991 at a time when the conflict across former Yugoslavia was already in full swing. For obvious reasons, the least of which was the album's subtitle - Psychological Propaganda Set, many songs contained heavy lyrics and a dark, militaristic atmosphere. In your face profanity and descriptive cursing was also par for the course, making this the first major music release in former Yugoslavia to take such narrative liberties. Tracks like "Smrt popa Mila Jovovi?a" (30-year-old poem by Bo?o ?uranovi?), "Jemo voli jem" (incorporating samples from Yugoslav aviators' anthem "Hej vojnici vazduhoplovci" as well as ?emsa Suljakovi?'s "Izgubila sve sam bitke"), "Inspektor Nagib" and "Zdravo damo" became instant hits.
The discrepancy between what's listed on the cover and what is actually recorded is there again as sleeve announces the track called "KPGS" which would, this time for real, appear on the next live album, but does not list "Halid invalid Hari" and "Prijatelju, prijatelju" which were included and became big hits. Many consider the two tracks to be classic Rambo: observant, opinionated, direct and profane. The latter of the two originally included excerpts from Slobodan Milo?evi? and Franjo Tu?man speeches, but the record company censors took them out.
This album further solidified Rambo's presence on the scene as he started playing bigger arenas like Sava centar. Due to outspoken and entertaining nature he would often get invited on various TV and radio outlets across the country.
Trying to take the new situation in stride, he hit the road, becoming one of the first performers from FR Yugoslavia to regularly start touring Macedonia and Slovenia in the years following those states' declarations of independence.
After live album KPGS (taped on December 29, 1992 in Skopje) that included new studio track "Karamba karambita" followed by a greatest hits compilation Izabrana dela 1989-1994, Rambo recorded peculiar new material during July 1995 in Paris with Goran Vejvoda. Released the following year as Mikroorganizmi, it featured inaccessible, moody sound garnered with terse, experimental lyrics marking a sizable departure from his usual antics.
Old-school Rambo fans did not have to wait long for a return to earlier style. Towards the end of 1996, on Titanik he delivered a new batch of traditional fare like "?akom u glavu", "Sado-mazo", "Zreo za penziju" and "Oti?'o je svak ko valja" (dedicated to Toma Zdravkovi? and members of ?arlo Akrobata). Seasoned musicians like Ognjen Radivojevi? (later to perform with Goran Bregovi? and Zdravko ?oli?), Goran Ljuboja, Dragan Markovski and Marija Mihajlovi? took part in recording sessions for this album.
Extensive tour followed and it again included Slovenia (live album was recorded over two Ljubljana concerts in April 1997 and later released as Koncert u KUD France Pre?eren), as well as Bosnia where Rambo appeared as a guest at Sejo Sexon's Zabranjeno pu?enje gig in Sarajevo. That appearance in December 1997 was the first post-war visit by a Serbian-Montenegrin performer to the Muslim part of Bosnia.
On June 9, 1998, Rambo played Belgrade's Dom Sindikata hall in what he announced to be the farewell performance before retirement. Even if many doubted his sincerity, the concert was a memorable one. Soon, Rambo packed his bags and left for the Netherlands, though not before squeezing in two more shows in Bosnia. In the Netherlands, he worked a series of menial jobs including construction, before deciding to return to Belgrade after only 4 months abroad. Back home, not surprisingly, he also returned to music and continued to break down inter-ethnic barriers: on December 10, 1998, he and Margita Stefanovi? played a show in Pula at the local cinema with KUD Idijoti, which was a first opportunity since the war for a Croatian audience to see performers from Serbia and Montenegro.
Throughout the year 2000, Rambo worked on what would eventually become the Don't Happy, Be Worry album. This album included the song Laganese in which sampled the Norwegian journalist Åsne Seierstad singing the Norwegian Folk song Eg rodde meg ut på seiegrunnen and swearing. By this time, sampling and local pop-cultural references became two more staples of his sound, and this material, too, was heavy on both. Produced by Iztok Turk, it featured tracks like "?oban je upravo napustio zgradu" (loose cover of Neda Ukraden's "Zora je svanula"), "Moj skutere" that borrows from Oliver Dragojevi?'s "Moj galebe", and "Iza?ite molim" with sprinkled in dialogues from Goran Markovi?'s 1975 movie Variola vera.
He made a song "Dikh tu kava" in collaboration with ethno-jazz fusion band Kal, and in 2007 he appeared on their album as a featured artist in the song "Komedija" ("Comedy").
In autumn 2007 he performed a performance called "Mixing of alternative rocks", when he "played" on 12 concrete mixers in front of the audience, during The Alternative Rock Festival in SKC, Belgrade.
For the purpose of the New Year's show on RTV, he appeared in the song "Rakija" followed by Zorule, the traditional folk orchestra. This song was used later as one of the tracks for "Vrati?e se rode" TV serial. In February 2008, Rambo Amadeus performed as a guest star of The RTS Big Band jazz orchestra, for their 60th Anniversary.
Rambo Amadeus was internally selected by the Montenegrin national broadcaster RTCG to represent Montenegro in the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 in Baku, Azerbaijan. His winning song "Euro Neuro" gained controversy for its video. He ultimately failed to make the Eurovision final. The same year, he was hired both in the Serbian and Croatian language dub of the Ice Age: Continental Drift animated film, as Captain Gutt.
In 2013 he released a video for the new single O'Ruk on the Road Again with Three Winnettous.
In 2016, he landed two voice-work roles, as Mighty Eagle in the Croatian-language and Serbian-language version of The Angry Birds Movie, and as Crush in the Serbian-language version Finding Dory.
In addition to a prolific solo recording career, Rambo frequently engaged in different, often bizarre side projects.
Rambo Amadeus, one of Serbia's most innovative artists
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