Petr Rezek: I only go to rock concerts. I was not into pop

Why are you re-releasing the album?

I wanted to pay tribute to the lyricists who collaborated with me on the songs, as well as the arranger Ota Petřina. Apart from Pavel Žák, none of them are alive today. Pavel Vrba, Eda Pergner and Pavel Žák were absolutely the best lyricists for me.

Under the previous regime, however, the texts went through the approval process of various commissions and some did not pass, so to speak. The lyricists of my songs had to edit them several times, but in the end, the censors wouldn’t let them into the media anyway. The album was released, but the songs from it were not played on radio or television.

So I thought for those great blacksmiths, it would be good if I gave it up. Of course in the new version, because after forty-five years I sing a little differently. I kept Petřina’s original arrangements, only enriched them with some instruments and a more modern sound.

Did you use the original texts or did you work with the modified texts?

I used the original. The way their authors wrote them.

What bothered the censors?

They were bothered by incomprehensible things today. For example in the text of Vrb When, why and with whom? there were too many jinotajs, they said. It is said that listeners could imagine everything under them, including what was undesirable under the then regime.

When I was a radio editor, we had a list of inappropriate words in the lyric closet. Among them were, for example, ditch sleepers or wanderers. The censorship was terribly harsh and above all stupid.

You are best known as a pop singer. However, the Along the Roads 2020 album sounds rock in some places. Did you follow your musical beginnings?

Exactly. I started as a heavy drummer in the Juventus group, in which Karel Černoch sang. I was a backing guitarist and our repertoire also included a lot of western songs. When I worked with Hanka Zagorová, I slipped into the middle stream.

After I left, I played with the band Centrum and our repertoire was rock and pop. I also had to sing hits that people knew from my time with Hanka.

To this day, I only go to rock concerts. I’ve never been in a pop, no matter how funny it seems to me.

The atmosphere of your album was certainly recorded by the presence in the production of the great rock guitarist Ota Petřina…

Sure. But I practically recorded the new version of the album myself. I only invited guitarist Fredy Bittner and pianist Vlastimil Červenka to some parties. I had a lot of time to do it, because I have a recording studio at home.

When we were touring with Ota Petřina in 1976, I recorded an album on the basics of music in one afternoon. At that time, nobody had a lot of time in the studios. We had two or three frequencies and an end. If we hadn’t recorded the record at that time, it wouldn’t have been.

Did you have a sentimental feeling during the new recording?

I do not want to say. I recorded with pleasure and remembered the great lyricists. You know, to be honest, I haven’t found anyone today who can match Pergner, Vrb or Žák. And I also thought of others, Pavel Borovec, Vlada Corta or Zdenek Knight. They were excellent craftsmen who really knew how to write.

Among today’s lyricists, I like Richard Krajčo. He has beautiful sentences, they are quite poetic. But he doesn’t have the stories of the people I was talking about.

Singer Petr Rezek

Photo: P. Rezek archives

You even texted the song Life yourself.

She was the only one on the original recording. I wrote it according to my ideas, because I really couldn’t find a lyricist that matched my tastes and I was excited about it.

In the song Life is basically the story of Sisyphus. It’s about having to fight for something in your life, and you should never be happy to be on top because you can fall at any time.

You started your musical career as a guitarist. Why did you start singing?

As I said, Karel Černoch was in the Juventus group. He once told me that I could sing two or three songs to rest during performances. This is where it all began. When I joined the group Shut Up, led by František Ringo Čech, I was already singing in the middle of songs at concerts. Viktor Sodom sang the other.

In 1974 I started working with Petra Černocká and the group of cardinals from Zdeněk Merta. I sang them the first half of the concert practically alone. And then came the scene with Hanka Zagorová. I also had plenty of space next to her.

Was the offer to sing with her one that didn’t turn down?

Absoutely. I remember when she arrived, Petra Černocká told me to accept her, because it’s a big chance for me. And of course I jumped on him.

Karel Vágner also played bass in the backing band of Eva Pilarová and Jaromír Mayer. Jirka Lahoda, whom I knew from Juventus, and Ota Jahn, who previously played in Mephistos, played guitar there. When Ota went on vacation to London, I jumped for him.

Once after the concert, Karel Vágner and I sang on the guitar in the hotel, talking, and he just said in passing that I sing pretty well and that he will contact me one day and maybe we will put it together. After two years, he really did.

What was it like singing alongside Hana Zagorová?

Hanka gave me a lot of space early on, which I really appreciated. I wouldn’t get one from any other colleague. We were equal at the concert, except that she was a golden nightingale. For fun, she always told me that I was fourth in the poll. But it was five times and I was rightly proud of it.

It was an incredible collaboration that lasted six years since 1976. And in 2000, Hanka approached me again and we played together for another twenty years. Now it’s stopped because it heals.

In 1981, Petr Kotvald and Stanislav Hložek joined Karel Vágner’s group. Did you leave because of them?

There are two reasons why I left. The arrival of Kotvald and Hložka made me wonder what the three singers were going to do there. At the same time, I received an offer from the rock group Centrum, which accompanied singer Jana Robbová. She was a very talented little girl. Unfortunately, in 1996, she died at the age of forty-five from cancer.

I was excited about Centrum at the time because it played exactly the music I wanted. Everything fit together and the decision was quite simple. Thanks to my six-year collaboration with Hanka, I was in such a good position on stage that we played with the band Centrum for the first four years as intensely as when I was with her. We had two hundred and sixty concerts a year. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time to compose and record new songs, which after five years showed that public interest was diminishing. Eight years later, it’s over.

What did you do then?

For ten years I worked in various studios, wrote incidental music for theatrical performances and worked as a radio host. In 2000, Hanka Zagorová approached me again, so I returned to the stage. Now I play with my band.

You are seventy-nine years old. Where do you still want to play?

Some people claim I’m a joker by nature. But they exaggerate. I have played sports all my life. Now I play golf, and when I walk all the way, I drive nine or ten kilometres.

Thank God I’m healthy, hardening, washing in cold water, just trying. Besides, I still want to make music. As long as I feel people care, I’ll keep doing it. But if I feel like I don’t like anyone anymore, I’ll end up with music.

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