January 28, 2024 – It would have been his 101st. Happy heavenly birthday to one of Croatia’s most recognisable voices, the legend that was Ivo Robić. Here are our favourite five facts about him:
SINGING WAS NOT HIS first IDEA FOR A CAREER
Like many other boys, Ivo Robić dreamed of becoming a famous football player. Born in Garešnica near Bjelovar in 1923, Robić went on to study law in Zagreb. An expensive feat, that, which he financed by playing the violin and singing on gigs with his Dixieland band. In 1943 he went for a radio audition to sing Sniježi, which could be seen as the moment that propelled his star career in both Croatia and abroad. In 1955 he signed his first contract in Germany, becoming Mister Morgen with his hit single in 1959.
Ivo Robić was a pioneer IN MANY WAYS
His long-play record, the 1956 Pjeva vam Ivo Robić, which he recorded for Jugoton, was the first sung long-play record in the former republic of Yugoslavia. And though his career in the United States of America never really took off, his hit single Morgen was the first song in German that made it onto the Billboard Top 40 at #13. The same song became #23 on UK’s national top list, a success which no other Croatian musician ever even came close to.
HE Wrote STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT
After the success with Morgen, writes Mirovina.hr, Robić continued his collaboration with Bert Kaempfert, who at that time had one of the leading orchestras in Germany; together they recorded one LP and 14 single records for Polydor. Robić’s great hits were: Muli Song, Mit 17 Fängt das Leben Erst An, Rot is der Wein and Fremde in der Nacht (Strangers in the Night). There is a story about the latter song that it is the work of Ivo Robić himself. According to the story of his wife Marta, he sent that song to the Split festival, but it did not pass the selection. Allegedly, he left the authorship to Bert Kaempfert, and he gave the song to Frank Sinatra, who experienced global success with it in 1966.
Ivo Robić MIGHT HAVE HELPED A CERTAIN LIVERPOOL BAND BECOME FAMOUS
According to a Croatian urban legend, the Beatles were discovered by Ivo Robić. During a night walk in Hamburg with his producer and composer Bert Kaempfert, he stopped and was attracted by an unusual sound coming from a club. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Pete Best were on stage. Delighted by their performance, Ivo persuaded Bert to invite them to the studio, and thus the record “My Bonnie” was created, on which the Beatles under the name The Beat Brothers accompanied the English rock’n’roll singer Tony Sheridan.
his house is now a CHAPEL
According to the singer’s final will, the luxury house in Ičići near Rijeka where he lived with his wife Marta was after his passing gifted to the Rijeka archdiocese. In 2003, the house was converted into a chapel, with the living room becoming the main prayer and service area, the upper floor the church offices, and the garage a classroom.
The famous singer’s home town, Garešnica, keeps making sure that the memory of this voice of generations never fades. Last year, to commemorate 100 years from his birth, they painted a giant mural of Mister Morgen in the city centre and opened a gallery with his notes, letters, photographs, musical instruments and many other little things to celebrate his legacy. This year, they are opening an expanded exhibition on his birthday, the 28th at 5:30 p.m. Entrance is free for all visitors.