Oliver Dragojević Bookmark and Share


7 December 1947 - 29 july 2018

Born in Split, Croatia , Oliver Dragojević spends his youth on Vela Luka on the island of Korčula. It was here that he starts his musical education learning to play the clarinet and guitar. In 1961 he joins the folkband Baloni. With this band he enters the Split music festival in 1963 with a cover version of ‘Yesterday’ of the Beatles. It would last until 1967 before he enters the Split competition on his own account with the Zdenka Runjića composition ‘Picaferajem’. It would be his first hit and also the start of a long lasting relation with Runjića who would be responsible for most of Oliver’s material till the nineties.

His speciality was music influenced by Dalmatian folklore but with a modern twist and mixed with Italian and French chanson influences. Although Oliver star was rising it would take till 1975 before he releases his debut album ‘Ljubavna pjesma’. In between he is shortly a member of the Dalmatian folksupergroup More. In the seventies a string of albums and hits follow. One of the most famous was ‘Nadalina’, which also featured actor Boris Dvornik, and the popular 'Dalmatian anthems' ‘Galeb i ja’ and ‘Skalinada’.

Dragojević maintained his popularity during the eighties including his friendship with Runjića who wrote over 200 songs for him. This ended in 1993 when Runjića had a dispute with the Split Music Festival organizers, and founded a rival music festival called Melodije hrvatskog Jadrana (Melodies of the Croatian Adriatic). Oliver started contacting other songwriters and gradually made a change in style from less folk and to more global jazz sounds. At that time he was often referenced as Croatia's oldest pop star. In 1997 this became fruitful with the album ‘Oliver u Lisinskom’ that received a Porin (the Croatian equivalent of a Grammy) for best album. The album also featured a song by young popstar Gibonni. ‘Cesarice' would turn out to be a huge hit.

On 25 of august 2001 he gives a charity concert for humanitary help to the vicitims of the war at the Pula Arena. On October 27, 2004, his long last friend Runjić died of a stroke whilst recovering from the aftermath of a heart attack. Today, Oliver is still active on the Croatian music scene often recognized as one of the country's more popular singers and musicians. In 2005 he releases a new album called ‘Vridilo je’ and does an extensive European tour. The concert in the Parisian Olympia Theatre is later released in CD.

In August 2017, Dragojević revealed he was diagnosed with lung cancer. In June 2018, he was hospitalised in the Split Clinical Hospital Center due to breathing difficulties. He died on 29 July 2018 at the age of 70.

On the web:

- Oliver's website: http://www.oliverdragojevic.com/

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What do we think:

DB: My collague Zdenka loves his music and mostly his lyrics. But even without speaking one word Croatian you can understand why Oliver has such a big following in his home country. His music is serious but not to uneasy to get into. That is not because he makes easy listening music but more that his style is so Mediteranean singer songwriter that you will feel right at home. It sounds like Italian, French but is in fact Dalmatian folk. Very good music although he hardly writes anything himself.



♪♪♪♪ - Ljubavna pjesma - 1975

♪♪♪ - Karoca - 1982

♪♪♪ - Vridilo je - 2005

Further listening:

Malinkonija - 1977; Poeta - 1978; Vjeruj u ljubav - 1979; Đelozija - 1981; Jubavi, jubavi - 1981; Evo mene među moje - 1984; Svoju zvizdu slidin - 1985; Za sva vrimene - 1986; Oliver - 1987; Pionirsko kolo - 1987; Svirajte noćas za moju dušu - 1988; Oliver u HNK - 1989; Jedina - 1991; Teško mi je putovati - 1992; Neka nova svitanja - 1994; Sve najbolje - 1994; Vrime - 1995; Duša mi je more - 1997; Oliver u Lisinskom’- 1997
Dvi, tri riči - 2000; Trag u beskraju - 2002; A L’Olympia - 2006

♪♪♪♪♪ = outstanding album, an absolute must-have
♪♪♪♪ = great album, highly recomended
♪♪♪ = nice album
♪♪ = be careful, requires listening before buying
♪ = best to be avoided