Ivan Král (born May 12, 1948, in Prague) is a Grammy Award-winning, Czech-born American composer, filmmaker, record producer, bass guitar player, and singer-songwriter. He works across many 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.
Ivan Kral (2011)
May 12, 1948 |
|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,
Král started his American music career during the early 1970s glam rock scene in New York where his band, Luger, which also featured drummer Shayne Harris performed at many trendy 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 Patti Smith Group on her first four albums; including debut, Horses (1975), called 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  because it's "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
Some of his songs 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 big hit "Dancing Barefoot" which Rolling Stone included on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and has been recorded by many including U2, Simple Minds and Pearl Jam.
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 was a reporter at the United Nations and brought worldwide attention to the pending Soviet Union invasion of Czechoslovakia. He publicly denounced the pending takeover.  After the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, Král decided not to return.
Král had refugee status until 1981 when he obtained US citizenship. He 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 where he filmed other concerts. Some of the clips appear in his 1975 amateur compilation, "Night Lunch"YouTube – "Night Lunch" 1975 official trailer by Ivan Kral
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 (not to be confused with a 1980 film titled "Blank Generation" that also stars Richard Hell from Television) which includes Ramones, Talking Heads, Blondie, New York Dolls, television, drag queen Jayne County, before they had record deals. No Wave filmmaker Amos Poe helped Král edit "The Blank Generation" 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 that genuinely captures the birth of New York punk as it was happening. There are no effects, production, posing, scripts or budget. It is the source film for many music documentaries worldwide.
Král also shot three rare short films from 1976 to 1979 titled "Rat", "Raven", and "Rabbit" which capture his days in the Patti Smith Group, with her band backstage and onstage.
In 1979, after Patti's last show in Florence, Italy, Iggy Pop invited Král to Rockfield Studios in Wales to work on his Soldier , with David Bowie as producer. 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.
Král wrote for many, including Mick Ronson, collaborator for David Bowie during the Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars era. This was followed by rehearsals with British guitarist Chris Spedding and John Cale, formerly of the Velvet Underground to create a new band, but it never materialized.
Finally, Král formed his own band, Eastern Bloc With a favorable record deal and video from Passport Records the band was positioned for success until the label folded in the mid 1980s.
In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell and eastern Europe emerged from Soviet-style communism. Král returned to Prague where he received a heartwarming welcome back home in 1993. He discovered a nation of motivated musical talent, but with little experience. Many major rock artists worked with Král to help shape the new Czech rock scene. Because he spoke Czech and had some success "in the west" he was in a unique position to become a songwriter, producer and musician for some of the country's top talent, earning three Grammys.
Patti Smith, while still living in Detroit, recorded her poem Perfect Moon at 54 Sound studio for Král's 1995 album. John Cale of the Velvet Underground wrote and recorded the piano for the song which only appears on Král's "Nostalgia" album in the Czech Republic.
Král's latest album, Always (2014) is on Warner Music Czech Republic but was recorded in Detroit. He continues to work globally from his Ann Arbor, Michigan home studio. His prior ten albums were released on Universal Music Group and Polygram were recorded in the Czech Republic or in Seattle.
Král wrote music for the memorial of President Václav Havel, and performed it for live broadcast across the Czech Republic following the St. Vitus Cathedral funeral where world leaders came to pay their final respects.
As a producer, Král worked with The Vipers and the Band of Outsiders, along with 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.