In memoriam Pavel Zajíček

Door Xavier Kruth

04 mei 2024

We have only just learned that Pavel Zajíček, cult figure from the Czech Underground and singer of DG 307, passed away on March 5, 2024. The Czech Underground was a movement of hippies that emerged in Czechoslovakia in the years after the Warsaw Pact invasion, which put an end to the Prague Spring and the experiment of 'socialism with a human face'. Although the movement was apolitical in nature, it would face the harsh repression of times of normalization. Wearing long hair became a symbol of resistance against the established order. Some boys with long hair were even forced to go to the hairdresser.

The most important group from the Czech Underground was undoubtedly Plastic People Of The Universe. This group formed in 1968, shortly after the invasion of the Warsaw Pact, and played psychedelic music. They stood out, among other things, for their extravagant performances, with light shows, make-up, fire games, long clothes... DG 307 was founded in 1973 as an alliance between Plastic People bassist Milan Hlavsa and poet Pavel Zajíček. DG 307 took the experiment one step further in the deconstruction of language and music. Zajíček's lyrics were an important part of this.

In 1976, a major festival took place in Bojanovice, including Plastic People Of The Universe and DG 307. A month later, 27 musicians were arrested and a hundred festival goers were interrogated. Six months later, it resulted in a major trial against four musicians, including Pavel Zajíček. They were accused of 'deliberately disturbing the peace', which includes being an anti-social phenomenon and singing obscene lyrics. The four musicians receive prison sentences, and Zajíček disappeared behind bars for twelve months. The process led to the creation of the human rights movement Charter 77, as intellectuals such as Vaclav Havel showed solidarity with the persecuted musicians.

After his release, Pavel Zajíček continues DG 307, albeit without Milan Hlavsa. Three very experimental albums by DG 307 were released at the end of the 1970s. In 1980, Zajíček decided to leave the country, under pressure from the secret service StB, which even had a special program to force members of Charta 77 to emigrate: Akce Asanace. After living for a time in Sweden and the United States, and especially after communism fell in Czechoslovakia, Zajíček returned to his native country and made remarkable music with the re-established DG 307.

Pavel Zajíček died on March 5, 2024 from a long-term illness. He was 72 years old.

On Saturday, May 18, the undersigned will give a lecture in English about the Czech Underground at the Wave-Gotik-Treffen in Leipzig: The Czech Underground. How musicians took on totalitarianism.

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Over Xavier Kruth

Xavier Kruth bekeerde zich al op jonge leeftijd tot het gothicdom. Toen hij begon te puberen, moest hij lang zagen om een zwarte broek te mogen hebben. Toen hij tegenover zijn moeder argumenteerde dat hij gewoon om een zwarte broek vroeg, niet om zijn haar omhoog te doen in alle richtingen, repliceerde ze dat als hij nu een zwarte broek zou krijgen, hij daarna toch zijn haar torenhoog omhoog zou doen. Xavier was versteld over de telepathische vermogens van zijn moeder. Hij leerde destijds ook gitaar spelen, en sinds 2006 speelt hij in donkere kroegen met zijn melancholische kleinkunstliedjes in verschillende talen. In 2011 vervoegde Xavier het team van Dark Entries. In Dark Entries las hij ook dat The Marchesa Casati (gothic rock) een gitarist zocht, en zo kon hij een paar keer met de groep optreden. Later speelde hij bij Kinderen van Moeder Aarde (sjamanische folk) en werkte samen met Gert (kleinpunk). En het belangrijkste van al: in 2020 bracht hij samen met Dark Entries-collega Gerry Croon de plaat ‘Puin van dromen’ uit onder de naam Winterstille.

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