Klusák’s Karel Gott: A Czechoslovak Story wins Magnesia Litera
Pavel Klusák’s Karel Gott: A Czechoslovak Story was on Sunday named Book of the Year in the Magnesia Litera, the country’s top literary awards. The publication delves behind the myth of pop legend Gott, earning brickbats from hardcore fans but plaudits from the critics. I spoke to music writer and radio host Klusák when the book came out late last year.
“Karel Gott was sort of a guide of Czechoslovak people during the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s.
“His personality changed during those times and he probably had a gift to take the vibration of his time, including the totalitarian times, and to find a place in the mainstream on the top of the local scene here.”
What were the qualities that Karel Gott had that helped him to start winning fans and to start building his career?
“When the legendary small theatre Semafor, the epicentre of a new, more modern Czechoslovak pop music, took in Karel Gott [in 1963] and the directors, Suchý and Šlitr, wrote a new repertoire for him everything crashed together, or how to say it.
“And the musical movie Kdyby tisíc klarinetů, If a Thousand Clarinets, brought Karel Gott to the top of popularity.
“As you probably know, a very new poll for popularity and singers existed at that time in Czechoslovakia: Zlatý slavík, the Golden Nightingale.
“This time did not offer many possibilities for people to vote. There was nothing like free elections or anything like that.
“And paradoxically this Golden Nightingale became a sort of national poll, or chance to vote, for lifestyle.
“That’s why the winner, Karel Gott, was so closely observed and it sort of cemented his position for many years.”
Your book is called Karel Gott: Czechoslovak Story. He is the biggest star of pop music from this country, without question. Why him? What was it about him that made him the perfect person to be the country’s biggest star?
“In Czechoslovak pop you had Karel Gott, then a long, long gap and then all the others.
“He wanted to be seen as exceptional, and he succeeded.
“Till now, every family can tell you their stories or emotions about Karel Gott.
“That, to put it simply, is why so many internet commentaries, including hate-filled ones, are reacting to the release of the book.
“Because everyone thinks that he or she has to say something about Karel.
“And it really is a story of all of us here.”