Court ends bitter feud of pop divas

Photo: ČTK

Once the shining stars of the 1960s Czechoslovak pop scene, singers Helena Vondráčková and Marta Kubišová have turned into bitter foes over thwarted plans for a comeback of their former band, the Golden Kids. Ms Vondráčková accused her colleague of breaking a contract, and demanded more than a million crowns in compensation. A Prague court has dismissed the claim, but the war may not be over.

Helena Vondráčková,  Václav Neckář and Marta Kubišová  (Golden Kids) in 2003,  photo: ČTK
The vocal trio Golden Kids, with Helena Vondráčková, Marta Kubišová and Václav Neckář, shone brightly, if briefly, on the pop scene in the late 1960s. They formed several months after the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia, and made two albums before Marta Kubišová was silenced by the communist authorities over her disapproval with the Soviet occupation.

While Helena Vondráčková went on to become a pop icon for decades to come, Marta Kubišová could barely make a living, and eventually became a spokeswoman for the Charter 77 human rights initiative.

After the fall of communism, the Golden Kids were revived in the early 1990s, but plans for a national tour to commemorate the trio’s 40th anniversary ended in lawsuits. Marta Kubišová dropped out over disputes between managers, pointing out that no formal contract was concluded between the singers. But Helena Vondráčková sued her for 1.3 million crowns in damages.

Last year, a court in Prague dismissed Ms Vondráčková’s claims, but she appealed. A week before a higher court heard the case, a number of public Czech figures, including former president Václav Havel, former PM Jan Fischer, and the singers’ colleague from the Golden Kids, Václav Neckář asked her to drop the case saying she was putting money above friendship.

Helena Vondráčková replied she would not have taken things so far had her former friend behaved decently and had not spread lies in the media. On Monday, the appellate court however confirmed the previous verdict – no formal contract had been concluded, and no damages are to be paid. Speaking after Monday’s ruling, Marta Kubišová said she did not feel happy at all.

“Today I’m justified but I feel that it will never end, that it will go on to the Supreme Court. I can only say that I’ve believed from the start that the court would rule in my favour. But the whole issue is so sad and has no winners or losers. I certainly do not feel like a winner here today.”

Ms Vondráčková was not present in the courtroom on Monday but her lawyer told reporters that the case was not over yet. They want to ask the Czech Supreme Court to review the case once again.