Bajaga i Instruktori are a highly popular Serbian and former Yugoslav rock band.
Founded in Belgrade in 1984 by composer, lyricist and guitarist Momčilo Bajagić „Bajaga“, the group possesses a rich discography and a plethora of hit songs that placed them at the top of the former Yugoslav rock scene, alongside other mega-selling bands such as Bijelo Dugme and Riblja Čorba.
The band’s history begins in 1983. At the time Momčilo Bajagić „Bajaga“ was the guitarist for the hard rock band Riblja Čorba. During his work with Riblja Čorba, Bajagić wrote music and both music and lyrics for several Riblja Čorba hits, but also wrote a large number of humorous pop-oriented songs that did not fit into Riblja Čorba’s sound. He decided to release these songs on a solo album, and he started working on the album with a group of Belgrade musicians: vocalist Dejan Cukić (a former Dizel, Tilt, and Bulevar member, and at the time a journalist working in the magazine Rock), bass guitarist Miroslav Cvetković „Cvele“ (a former Tilt, Pop Mašina, and Papatra member), guitarist Nenad Stamatović (a former Tilt, Zebra, Suncokret, and Bulevar member), and drummer Vladimir Golubović (a former Tilt and Suncokret member, at the time temporarily replacing Vicko Milatović in Riblja Čorba).
During the work on the album, Bajagaić wanted only to record a large number of songs he wrote on an album and to remain a member of Riblja Čorba. The songs for the album were recorded in a rented apartment and in Radio Television Belgrade Studio V and produced by Kornelije Kovač. The album, beside mentioned musicians, featured Nenad Stefanović „Japanac“ on bass guitar, a former Generacija 5 member Dragan „Krle“ Jovanović on guitar, Kire Mitrev on trombone, Ivan Švager on clarinet, and Suzana Petričević on vocals in the song „Papaline“ („Sprats“). The album, entitled Pozitivna geografija (Positive Geography) was released at the end of January 1984 and was well received by the audience, bringing hits „Berlin“, „Mali slonovi“ („Little Elephants“), „Poljubi me“ („Kiss Me“), „Limene trube“ („Brass Trumpets“), „Tekila gerila“ („Tequila Guerrilla“), „Marlena“, and „Tamara“. The album also featured the anti-drug song „Znam čoveka“ („I Know a Man“), dedicated to Dragan Đerić „Đera“, Bajagić’s former bandmate from the bands Ofi and Glogov Kolac. Initially, Bajagić had no intention of promoting Pozitivna geografija in concert, but eventually decided to listen to the advices of some and hold several concerts. Bajagić and musicians working on the album held their first concert in Zagreb club Kulušić on April 12, 1984. Beside the musicians that worked on the album, the concert also featured vocalist Žika Milenković (Bajagić’s former bandmate from the band Ofi, and a former Mačori member and an actor in the amateur theatre Teatar levo), keyboardist Dragan Mitrić (a former Bulevar member) and Kornelije Kovač, Milenković soon becoming an official member of the band. During their staying in Zagreb Bajagić and Cukić appeared as guests on the recording of Parni Valjak album Uhvati ritam, singing backing vocals on the title track, which was the sign of gratitude to Parni Valjak for lending them a piece of drum kit for their first concert. The band held the official album promotion, organized by the Rock magazine, in Belgrade Dom Sindikata on April 21, and on this concert the band appeared under the name Bajaga i Instruktori, chosen after the idea of the journalist Peca Popović, for the first time. The concert featured Valentino and Bezobrazno Zeleno as the opening bands. The concert was well visited (mostly by teenagers) and the band’s performance was well received.
The success of Bajagić’s solo album caused conflicts inside Riblja Čorba, and on July 19, 1984, he was excluded from the band. During that summer Bajaga i Instruktori went on a tour, with Rade Radivojević on keyboards, playing mostly at youth work actions. At the end of the year, in the Rock magazine, Bajagić was proclaimed the Rock Musician of the Year, and Pozitivna geografija was voted the Album of the Year by musicians. At the beginning of 1985, the band recorded the album Sa druge strane jastuka (On the Other Side of the Pillow), produced by Kornelije Kovač and Saša Habić. The album featured a large number of guests: Branko Mačić on jazz guitar, Stjepko Gut on trumpet and flugelhorn, Sava Medan on double bass, Jovan Maljoković on saxophone, Mića Marković on saxophone, Nenad Stefanović „Japanac“ on bass guitar, Dragan „Krle“ Jovanović on guitar, and others. The album brought hits „220 u voltima“ („220 Volt“), „Vidi šta mi je uradio od pesme, mama“ (a Serbian language cover of the Melanie Safka song „Look What They’ve Done to My Song Ma“), „Ti se ljubiš (Na tako dobar način)“ („You Kiss (In a great Manner)“), „Dvadeseti vek“ („Twentieth Century“), and ballads „Dobro jutro, džezeri“ („Good Morning, Jazzers“), „Sa druge strane jastuka“ and „Zažmuri“ („Close Your Eyes“). For the first time Milenković was an author of a song, co-writing the song „Francuska ljubavna revolucija“ („French Love Revolution“) with Bajagić. At this time the band’s manager became a former U Škripcu menager Saša Dragić.
The members of Bajaga i Instruktori with the members of Bijelo Dugme in 1985 in Moscow
In March, Bajaga i Instruktori presented their new songs to the Zagreb audience in Kulušić, as a part of the BG-ZG: Bolje vas našli action. Several days later, in the night between March 9 and 10, they performed in Toulouse on the Night of Mediterranean Rock. Although they performed around 4:00 AM, they were well received and performed three encores. After this concert Rade Radivojević left the band, and was replaced by a former Potop and Galija member Saša Lokner. The band went on a successful Yugoslav tour, on which they held two concerts on Tašmajdan Stadium, on June 8 and 9. In May 1985, Bajagić and Cukić took a part in YU Rock Misija, a Yugoslav contribution to Live Aid, and on June 15, Bajaga i Instruktori performed on the YU Rock Misija concert held on the Red Star Stadium. In the autumn of 1985, Bajaga i Instruktori and Bijelo Dugme performed on the Moscow Festival of Youth and Students, as a part of Yugoslav delegation. Bajaga i Instruktori performed in the Gorky Park in front of about 100,000 people, and, as there was a serious risk of attendants getting hurt, the concert was interrupted. During the following days the band performed in the Moscow Dinamo Hall, Green Theatre (with the bands Misty in Roots and Everything but the Girl), Pioneers Home, and Vakhtangov Theatre. After they returned to Yugoslavia they continued their tour on which they held more than 120 concerts. The band also performed on the rock evening of the Intertalent Festival in Prague. At the end of 1985, in the magazine Rock, Bajaga i Instruktori were voted by the critics the Rock Band of the Year, Bajagić the Rock Musician of the Year, „Zažmuri“ the Song of the Year, and Sa druge strane jastuka the Album of the Year. The album was sold in more than 350,000 copies, and the band was awarded with the May 25 award by the League of Communist Youth of Yugoslavia. The band went on a break during which Lokner and Golubović performed in jazz clubs with jazz musicians Stjepko Gut (trumpet), Miša Krstić (piano), and Nenad Petrović (saxophone).
In the summer of 1986, the band members reunited to record the album Jahači magle (Fog Riders). The album, produced by Saša Habić featured numerous guests: Josipa Lisac on vocals in „Ja mislim 300 na sat“ („I Think at 300 kmph“), Kornelije Kovač, bass guitarist Bata Božanić, guitarists Duda Bezuha, Rajko Kojić (Bajagić’s former bandmate from Riblja Čorba), Vlada Negovanović, and Jane Parđovski, trumpeter Goran Grbić, and keyboardist Đorđe Petrović. The band recorded a cover of The Beatles song „All You Need Is Love“, entitled „All You Need Is Love (verzija 1986)“ („All You Need Is Love (Version 1986)“) which was released on a 7″ single given as a gift with an issue of Rock magazine before the album release. The B-side featured clips from the songs from Jahači magle. The single was printed in 99,999 copies. After the single release, the album was released, bringing hits „Ja mislim 300 na sat“, „442 do Beograda“ („422 to Belgrade“), with a bass guitar riff written by Božanić, „Bam, Bam, Bam“, „Rimljani“ („Romans“), and Milenković’s „Samo nam je ljubav potrebna“ („All We Need Is Love“). The band went on a successful tour, which ended with a concert held at Belgrade’s Sajmište on November 22, 1986, in front of about 20,000 visitors. After the end of a tour the band made a break once again. Bajagić travelled to Thailand, and in June 1987 Cukić released his first solo album Spori ritam (Slow Rhythm). After that, Bajaga i Instruktori went on a two months Soviet Union tour, during which they held 42 concerts. After they returned to Yugoslavia, Cukić left Bajaga i Instruktori conventionally and formed his Spori Ritam Band.
Bajaga i Instruktori recorded their following album Prodavnica tajni (The Shop of Secrets) in 1988 in Novi Sad. The album, named after Dino Buzzati book La boutique del mistero, (the songs, however, had no connection with the book), was produced by Saša Habić. Milenković co-wrote the songs „Ruski voz“ („Russian Train“), „Život je nekad siv, nekad žut“ („Life Is Sometimes Grey and Sometimes Yellow“), and „Vesela pesma“ („Merry Song“). The album marked a slight stylistic change in the band’s sound: the songs were simpler, without brass instruments, frequent on the band’s previous releases, based on acoustic guitars and keyboards, and the songs „Plavi safir“ („Blue Sapphire“), „Vesela pesma“, „Život je nekad siv, nekad žut“ and „Ruski voz“ featured folk music elements. However, virtually every song on the album became a hit. The band went on another successful tour, during which they recorded the double live/compilation album Neka svemir čuje nemir (May the Universe Hear the Unrest). The album featured new songs „Na vrhovima prstiju“ („On the Tips of Your Toes“), „Idem (Kao da ne idem, a idem)“ („I’m Going (Like I’m not Going, but I’m Going“), which is the first Bajaga i Instruktori song sung entirely by Milenković, and „Neka svemir čuje nemir“, which is a cover of a traditional Indian song, and acoustic studio versions of „Tamara“ and „Tekila gerila“. The live recordings were made during the band’s concerts in Zagreb’s Dom Sportova, held on March 6, 1989, and from Novi Sad EBU Rock Festival, and also a recording of the journalist Dražen Vrdoljak announcing the band on their concert in Kulušić, held on December 8, 1984. The album also featured a live version of the song „Kad hodaš“, written by Bajagić and originally recorded by Riblja Čorba. During the tour that followed the album release the band held two sold out concerts in Belgrade’s Pionir Hall. Despite the growing nationalism the band was well accepted in all parts of Yugoslavia. The only incident on the tour happened in Split, where the fans of the football club Hajduk Split threw various objects on the stage, but after the intervention of the security the concert was continued. At the beginning of 1990, Bajaga i Instruktori performed in Timişoara, Romania, at a rock festival organized two months after the fall of Nicolae Ceauşescu. The festival also featured several less known British acts and Yugoslav acts Riblja Čorba, Valentino, Galija and Viktorija.
In 1991, the band released the EP Četiri godišnja doba (Four Seasons), which featured the songs „Uspavanka“ („Lullaby“), „Buđenje ranog proleća“ („Waking up of the Early Spring“), „Dobro jutro“ („Good Morning“), and „U koži krokodila“ („In Crocodile Skin“). The EP featured opera singer Jadranka Jovanović. During 1992, despite the outbreak of the Yugoslav Wars, Bajaga i Instruktori performed and held successful concerts in Macedonia and Slovenia. During the same year Milenković, with Električni Orgazam member Goran Čavajda, Riblja Čorba member Zoran Ilić, and a former Bezobrazno Zeleno member Bojan Vasić, formed the band Babe. In 1993 Bajaga i Instruktori released the album Muzika na struju (Electric Music). The song „Marinina tema“ („Marina’s Theme“) was written for the theatre play Život Jovanov (Life of Jovan) directed by Darko Bajić, and the theme „Nakostrešena mačka“ („Bristled Cat“) was written by Milenković. The anti-war ballad „Golubica“ („Dove“) featured Aleksandra and Kristina Kovač, Oktobar 1864 vocalist Tanja Jovićević and Marija Mihajlović on backing vocals. The song was based on the instrumental Bajagić played at Terazijska česma during the March 9, 1991 protest. Beside „Golubica“, the album featured anti-war songs „Gde si“ („Where Are You“) and „Ovo je Balkan“ („This Is the Balkans“). The album was promoted on concerts in Montenegro and Macedonia, and on a sold out concert in Belgrade’s Hala sportova. At this time Bajagić started performing alone in the clubs abroad.
At the beginning of 1994, Bajaga i Instruktori planned to perform in Slovenia, and there was a huge interest by the audience for these concerts. However, Slovenian authorities refused to issue visas to the band, which caused a scandal in Slovenian media. After the intervention of the Slovenian president Milan Kučan, visas were issued to the members of the band, and they performed several concerts including a sold out concert in the Tivoli Hall. In March 1994 the band held three concerts in Belgrade’s Dom Sindikata, with which they celebrated ten years of existence. After these concerts Bajagić and Dragić ended their cooperation. For a certain time, manager duties were carried on by Bajagić, before Zoran Vulović, a former U Škripcu keyboardist, became the band’s new manager. In November 1994, after a concert in Priština, came to conflicts inside the band, and Bajagić excluded Stamatović and Golubović from the band, which ended Bajaga i Instruktori activity. At the time Bajagić, with Lokner, wrote music for Miša Radivojević’s film Ni na nebu ni na zemlji (Neither on the Sky nor on the Earth). The recordings featured members of the starogradska muzika band Legende (in the hit song „Moji drugovi“), Dragan Jovanović on acoustic guitar, Sava Latinović on tarabuka, and Aleksandra and Kristina Kovač on backing vocals. The music was released on the album Ni na nebu ni na zemlji. During the same year Bajagić wrote music for the TV show Otvorena vrata (Opened Door).
In 1996, Bajagić reformed Bajaga i Instruktori. The new lineup featured, beside Bajagić, Milenković, Cvetković, and Lokner, the guitarist Vlada Negovanović (a former Butik, Doktor Spira i Ljudska Bića, Slađana Milošević’s backing band, Tunel, and Dejan Cukić’s Spori Ritam Band member), and the drummer Čeda Macura (a former Neverne Bebe, Viktorija’s backing band, Legija and Revolveri member). At the end of 1996 the band recorded the album Od bižuterije do ćilibara (From Bijouterie to Amber). Bajagić wrote all the songs, except „Ne volim zimu“ („I Don’t Like Winter“), featuring music written by Milenković. The album was produced by the band members, and featured Saša Habić on cello. The album featured hits „Silikon (2004)“ („Silicon (2004)“), Tvoja je gajba sigurna“ („Your Place Is Safe“), „Još te volim“ („I Still Love You“), „Iza nas…“ („Behind Us…“), „Ne volim zimu“, and „Što ne može niko možeš ti“ („You Can Do What Nobody Else Can“). The album was promoted on a free concert held on Belgrade’s Republic Square on May 12, 1997. On 1997 the Slovenian record label Biveco released the compilation album Neizbrisano (Unerased). The album featured recordings from the various periods of Bajagić’s and Bajaga i Instruktori career. It featured remixed songs from the Četiri godišnja doba EP, the instrumental „Radovan III“, written for the play of the same name, „Tribute to Buldožer“, a cover of Buldožer song „Yes My Baby, No“, a new version of „Moji drugovi“ featuring Vlada Divljan, Sokoli cover of Bijelo Dugme song „Ne spavaj, mala moja“ featuring Bajagić on vocals, and songs „Montenegro“ and „Januar“ („January“).
Bajaga i Instruktori performing live in Sokobanja in 2008
In 2001, the band recorded the album Zmaj od Noćaja (Dragon of Noćaj) with the new guitarist, Ljubiša „Buba“ Opačić. The album was produced by Saša Habić. The album featured a cover of The Clash song „Should I Stay or Should I Go“, entitled „Da li da odem ili ne“. Zmaj od Noćaja featured a bonus CD entitled I ja sam Zvezdaš (I’m a Red Star Fan, Too), which featured three versions of the song „Zvezda“, dedicated to the football club Red Star Belgrade. The album featured hits „Zmaj od Noćaja“ and „Lepa Janja, ribareva kći“ („Pretty Janja, the Fisher’s Daughter“), and minor hits „Da li da odem ili ne“ and „Ala“ („Ala“).
In 2002, the band released the album Best of Live, which featured recordings from their concerts in Belgrade, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Timişoara, Skopje, and Niš. It features two previously unrecorded songs: a song in Slovenian, „Slovenačka reč“ („A Word in Slovenian“), recorded live, featuring music from the band’s old song „Idem (Kao da ne idem, a idem)“ and lyrics written by Slovenian journalist Sonja Javorik, and a song in Macedonian, „Pesna protiv maleri“ („A Song against Bad Luck“), recorded in studio for the theatre play Kutrite mali hrčki (Poor Little Hamsters) by Skopje Drama Theatre. In 2003, Bajagić, with the members of the band Apsolutno Romantično, recorded the soundtrack for Dušan Kovačević’s film The Professional, released on the album Profesionalac: Muzika iz filma (The Professional: Music from the Film). During the same year, the band released the compilation album Ruža vetrova Beograda (Belgrade Wind Rose), which, after the idea of Peca Popović, featured the band’s songs inspired by the city of Belgrade. The compilation included two new songs, „Novosti“ („The News“) and „Ruža vetrova“, as well as a remix of the latter. The album was promoted on a concert in the building of Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra on December 27, 2003.
In 2005, the band released their latest studio album entitled Šou počinje u ponoć (The Show Begins at Midnight). The album was produced by Voja Aralica. It featured numerous guests: Negative vocalist Ivana Pavlović on vocals in the song „Funky Taxi“, Bebi Dol on vocals in „Bademi i so“ („Almonds and Salt“) and „Pesma slobode“ („The Song of Freedom“), Marko Đorđević on trumpet, Orthodox Celts member Ana Đokić on violin, the band Vrelo, and folk singer Vida Pavlović, who died before the album release, in the song „Padaj kišo, keve ti“ („Fall, Rain, Please“). The song „Pesma slobode“ is a Serbian language cover of Bob Marley & The Wailers’ „Redemption Song“. A tour and a release of a live DVD recorded at a concert in the Belgrade Arena followed the album.
In 2008, the band recorded two new songs: „Bežiš od mene ljubavi“ („You’re Running Away from Me, My Love“) and „A ti se nećeš vratiti“ („And You’re not Coming Back“), the latter featuring a guest appearance by Plavi Orkestar frontman Saša Lošić and recorded for the TV show Vratiće se rode.
On September 28, 2008, Opačić died in Maribor, in a hotel room after a concert. He was replaced by the former VROOM guitarist Marko Nježić.
In December 2009, the band celebrated 25 years of existence with three concerts held in Belgrade’s Sava Centar. During the same year, a documentary about the band, directed by Miloš Jovanović and entitled Muzika na struju, was released. The film tells the story of 25 years of Bajaga i Instruktori career.
Bajagić in 2013
In 2010, PGP-RTS released a box set entitled Antologija (Anthology), featuring remastered editions of the first four Bajaga i Instruktori studio albums. During November and December 2011, the band, together with Croatian pop singer Jelena Rozga, held nine concerts in Croatia and one in Široki Brijeg, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a part of Karlovačko Live 2011. On April 24, 2012, the band performed in Hard Rock Cafe Dubai.
On June 6, 2012, the band released the studio album Daljina, dim i prašina (Distance, Smoke and Dust). The album, preceded by the singles „Ako treba da je kraj“ („If It Should Be the End“) and „Vreme“ („Time“), featured a new version of „Bežiš od mene, ljubavi“ and a version of the song „Od sumraka do svitanja“ („From Dusk till Dawn“), written by Bajagić and originally recorded by pop singer Karolina Gočeva in 2005. The album was released with the book of Bajagić’s poetry entitled Vodič kroz snove (Guide through Dreams). The book featured a choice of songs Bajagić written for Bajaga i Instruktori and his solo albums, as well as for other artists, with accompanying texts by Dušan Kovačević, Aleksandar Jerkov and Peca Popović. In November, the band recorded a video for the album title track. The video featured the actor Srđan Todorović.
On April 19, 2013, the band performed in Poland for the first time. The band performed in Proxima Club in Warsaw, and the concert featured guest appearance by Polish singer Maciej Maleńczuk, who, in 2011, covered Bajaga i Instruktori song „Verujem – Ne verujem“ („I Believe – I Don’t Believe“), his version entitled „Ostatnia nocka“. On June 26, 2013, the band held a concert at Belgrade Kalemegdan Fortress in front of 30,000 spectators, as a part of Daljina, dim i prašina promotional tour. The concert featured Shark, Snakes and Planes, Eva Braun and Bombaj Štampa as the opening bands, and actor and drummer Srđan Todorović, YU grupa bass guitarist Žika Jelić and Plavi Orkestar frontman Saša Lošić „Loša“ as special guests. The concert was preceded by Meet Belgrade from Bajaga’s Songs contest organized by Long Play concert agency and Tourist Organization of Belgrade. On June 12, the winners of the contest bus toured Belgrade with rock journalist Peca Popović, visiting locations mentioned in Bajaga and Instruktori songs, and at Topčider the winners were welcomed by Bajagić.
In August 2013, Daljina, dim i prašina was released on vinyl, in a limited number of 200 copies only, each one signed by Bajagić.
The song „Strah od vozova“ („Fear of Trains“) was covered by Serbian pop duo Next of Kin on their 1990 album Way to the Top. The song „Tišina“ („Silence“) was, with altered lyrics and entitled „Alkoholičarka“ („Alcoholic Girl“), covered by Serbian punk rock band Trula Koalicija on their 1992 album Plakao sam kad je pala Sekuritatea (I Cried When the Securitate Had Fallen). The song „Francuska ljubavna revolucija“ was covered by the Serbian punk rock band Six Pack, their version entitled „La Musique“, on their 2004 album Musique, with Žika Milenković making a guest appearance on the song. The song „Ti se ljubiš (Na tako dobar način)“ („You Kiss (In a Great Manner)“) was covered by the Serbian pop singer Teodora Bojović on her 2004 album Teodora. The song „Verujem – Ne verujem“ was covered in 2011 by Polish singer Maciej Maleńczuk, his version entitled „Ostatnia nocka“.
The book YU 100: najbolji albumi jugoslovenske rok i pop muzike (YU 100: The Best albums of Yugoslav pop and rock music) features four Bajaga i Instruktori albums: Sa druge strane jastuka (ranked No. 13), Pozitivna geografija (ranked No. 37), Jahači magle (ranked No. 58), and Prodavnica tajni (ranked No. 79).
In 2000, the song „Zažmuri“ was polled No.70 on the Rock Express Top 100 Yugoslav Rock Songs of All Times list. In 2006, the same song was polled No.40 on the B92 Top 100 Domestic Songs list. In 2011, the song „Ti se ljubiš (Na tako dobar način)“ was voted, by the listeners of Radio 202, one of 60 greatest songs released by PGP-RTB/PGP-RTS during the 60 years of the labels existence.
Pozitivna geografija (1984)
Sa druge strane jastuka (1985)
Jahači magle (1986)
Prodavnica tajni (1988)
Muzika na struju (1993)
Od bižuterije do ćilibara (1997)
Zmaj od Noćaja (2001)
Šou počinje u ponoć (2005)
Daljina, dim i prašina (2012)