Czech country music fans are mourning the loss of singer-songwriter Jiri Brabec. The singer, a country-rock legend in the Czech Republic, was declared missing on Tuesday and was found dead by police in his south Bohemian country cottage on Wednesday evening. Country music roots in the Czech Republic run deep largely due to the achievements of Jiri Brabec. Kay Grigar with the details.
American rock and country music managed to leak through the Iron Curtain; every Sunday the young Jiri Brabec was able to listen to the top 20 American hits on Radio Luxembourg and American Forces Network. At a time when creative expression was rarely permitted, Mr Brabec started the band the FAPS in 1958, one of the first rock and roll bands in Czechoslovakia. The FAPS' concerts opened doors to many Czech stars on the music scene, such as: Miki Volek, Pavel Sedlacek or Pavel Bobek. Jiri Brabec later recorded with American country legend George Hamilton, known for his 1963 country hit "Albilene". Eight years after the foundation of the FAPS, Mr Brabec began another band called "Country Beat" which was well received and toured internationally in the 70's. Mr Brabec's achievements truly put Czechoslovakia on the map for country music and his various bands have sold an impressive 1.5 million records. He later became the host of the Czech Television show "Country Express, Prague-Nashville". Although not confirmed, Brabec's cause of death appears to be suicide. Czech country music fans will always fondly remember the 63-year-old perpetuator of country music.