Guest Author - Barbara Swiech
While 1960s may be considered by the time of the Beatles, Polish music scene could not remain with no answer to that phenomenon. There were couple of similar male bands performing rock music. One of the most popular one in Poland – whose music influenced the whole generation – was the one called ‘Czerwone Gitary’ (what means in Polish ‘The Red Guitars’).
The band was formed in 1965 in Gdansk and was thought to be Polish equivalent of the Beatles. The group’s highest popularity was achieved within 5 first years of its existence but some of their songs are still the classics in Poland. ‘Czerwone Gitary’ toured extensively also outside of Poland – in the USA, Germany, Hungary, former Czechoslovakia and Soviet Union.
The group was initiated by Henryk Zomerski (drums) - who left shortly after - and Jerzy Kossela (guitar, vocal) who left the band in 1967. The other original members are Bernard Dornowski (guitar), Jerzy Skrzypczyk (drums) and Krzysztof Klenczon (bass). Four of the initial members used to be in another notable Polish band called ‘Niebiesko-Czarni’ (‘The Blue Blacks’). However, the leader of ‘The Red Guitars’ and its main vocal was Seweryn Krajewski who joined the band in December 1965 (shortly after it was founded).
The main resemblance to the Beatles was perceived in the music of ‘The Red Guitars’ as well as the looks of the members and their style. In January 1969 the band received a MIDEM award in Cannes (France) for the largest amount of discs sold in their own country. This was also the year when the Beatles were awarded in the same category.
The biggest hits of ‘Czerwone Gitary” are: ‘Takie ladne oczy’ (What Pretty Eyes), ‘Dozwolone od lat 18-tu’ (Permitted Until Eighteen), ‘Anna Maria’ (Anne Marie), ‘Bialy Krzyz’ (The White Cross), ‘Ciagle Pada’ (It Keeps Raining), ‘Plona gory, plona lasy’ (Mountains Glow, Forests Glow), ‘Kwiaty we wlosach’ (Flowers In The Hair) and many other that were sung by youth of the 1960s. Although their music seems to be the past (as the group was dissolved and ressurected – but in different composition) the songs of ‘The Red Guitars’ are still known even by younger generation. They are vital part of Polish wedding receptions, graduation balls and old-style parties bringing joy of music to the old and young. One of the Polish magazines, called Polityka, selected ‘Czerwone Gitary’ as ‘One of the Best Polish Bands of the 20th Century’.