Ivan Král (born May 12, 1948, in Prague) is a Czech-born American composer, filmmaker, record producer, bass guitar player, and singer-songwriter. He works across genres including punk, rock, jazz, soul, country and film scores. His songs have been recorded by such artists as U2, Pearl Jam, Téléphone, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Simple Minds, First Aid Kit, and John Waite, among others. He is a three-time winner of the Academy of popular music.
Ivan Kral (2011)
|Born|| May 12, 1948
(now Czech Republic)
|Genres||Rock, pop, jazz, alternative rock, protopunk, ambient, electronic|
|Occupation(s)||Guitarist, singer-songwriter, record producer, filmmaker, bassist, pianist, vocalist|
|Instruments||Guitar, piano, keyboards, bass, vocals, cello|
|Labels||Arista, PolyGram, Universal, Chrysalis, Sony, BMG, Supraphon, Warner Music|
|Associated acts||Patti Smith, Blondie, Iggy Pop, John Cale
Czech: Lucie, Alice, Jiri Suchy, Aneta Langerova, Mnaga A Zdorp, Miro Zbirka, Triny, Vsichni Svati, Alias, Janek Ledecky, Pavel Bobek, Lenka Filipova, Jaromir Klempir, Debbi,
Ivan Král was a refugee from Czechoslovakia; he moved to the USA in 1966 with his parents who were diplomats. His father Dr. Karel Kral, a reporter at the United Nations, brought worldwide attention to the pending Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and publicly denounced the action, subsequently deciding not to return. Král had refugee status until 1981 when he obtained US citizenship.
Král's American music career began during the early 1970s glam rock scene in New York. His band, Luger, which also featured drummer Shayne Harris, performed at venues including Max's Kansas City, and opened for Kiss at the early shows at the Hotel Diplomat in 1973. After their breakup in 1973, he joined Shaun Cassidy's backing group, then Blondie, then Patti Smith, then Iggy Pop.
Between 1975 and 1979, Král was co-writer, guitarist and bassist of the Patti Smith Group on her first four albums; including debut, Horses (1975), named one of the All-Time 100 Greatest Albums by Time magazine in 2006. The album is in the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress, for recordings considered "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
Some of Král's songs written during this period include "Ask the Angels", "Pissing in a River", "25th Floor", "Revenge", "Citizen Ship", "Birdland", "Ain't It Strange", "Pumping (My Heart)" and her hit "Dancing Barefoot", which Rolling Stone included in its 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and has been recorded by artists including U2, Simple Minds and Pearl Jam.
Kral wanted a visual diary of his days in America in case he was ever deported back home to Czechoslovakia where rock music was forbidden, so he bought a Super 8 camera from a pawn shop. He began filming at Murray the K shows in 1968, then eventually got a 16mm camera, on which he filmed other concerts. Some of the clips appear in his 1975 amateur compilation, Night Lunch.
Král also filmed his bandmates and friends at rehearsals, Hotel Chelsea apartments, The Bottom Line, and CBGB. He compiled the footage into a 1976 film titled The Blank Generation, which features Ramones, Talking Heads, Blondie, New York Dolls, Television, and drag queen Jayne County, before they had record deals. No Wave filmmaker Amos Poe helped Král edit the film by adding music from each band's cassettes and cutting irrelevant scenes.
The Blank Generation D-I-Y clip compilation is often referred to as the original visual document of the birth of New York punk. There are no effects, production, posing, scripts or budget, and it is the source film for many music documentaries worldwide.
Král also shot three short films from 1976 to 1979 titled "Rat", "Raven", and "Rabbit", documenting his days in the Patti Smith Group, with her band backstage and onstage.
In 1979, after Patti Smith's last show in Florence, Italy, Iggy Pop invited Král to Rockfield Studios in Wales to work on his album Soldier, produced by David Bowie. After the Soldier tour, Král became Iggy's co-writer and guitarist for all the original songs on his 1981 album, Party.
Král hoped to build a career as a film composer by heading to Los Angeles to compose music for the Barry Levinson film Diner (1981), but eventually returned to New York. He wrote and recorded the film scores for three films by underground filmmaker Amos Poe, titled, Unmade Beds, The Foreigner and Subway Riders in his apartment on his mini Moog synthesizer, piano and guitar.
In the 1980s Král was involved in a number of short-term projects. He recorded and toured with John Waite, former singer with The Babys, and co-wrote songs for his album Ignition. Král wrote songs for many other artists, including Mick Ronson, and was involved in rehearsals with British guitarist Chris Spedding and John Cale, formerly of the Velvet Underground, to create a new band, but it never materialized.
Král subsequently formed his own band, Eastern Bloc, with a record deal and video with Passport Records, though the project ended when the label folded in the mid 1980s.
In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell and the Velvet Revolution brought Communism to an end in Czechoslovakia. Král returned to Prague in 1993, and began working with other rock artists to developing the new Czech rock scene, using his experiences in the west to develop Czech talent and working as a songwriter, producer and musician, earning three Czech Grammys.
Král works from his home studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His album, Always (2014), was recorded in Detroit and released on Warner Music Czech Republic. His previous ten albums were released on Universal Music Group and Polygram and were recorded in the Czech Republic or in Seattle.
As a producer, Král worked with The Vipers and the Band of Outsiders, as well as Czech bands such as Lucie (on their studio album Černý kočky mokrý žáby) and David Koller, Ivan Hlas, Jiri Suchy, Aneta Langerova, Miroslav Žbirka, Alice, Debbi, Triny, and Garage. He also released many solo albums.
He is a collector of late avante-garde Czech photographer František Drtikol. The video for his song "Winner Takes All" was inspired by Drtikol's work with the female form.