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Ambasadori (Serbian Cyrillic: Амбасадори, "Ambassadors") were a Yugoslav schlager pop band from Sarajevo, SR Bosnia-Herzegovina, SFR Yugoslavia active from 1968 until 1980.

Ambasadori
Eurovision Song Contest 1976 - Yugoslavia - Ambasadori 3.png
Ambasadori in The Hague on 3 April 1976, the day of their Eurovision appearance.
Background information
OriginSarajevo, SR Bosnia-Herzegovina, SFR Yugoslavia
GenresSchlager pop
Years active1968–1980
LabelsBeograd disk
Associated actsZdravko Čolić, Hari Varešanović, Kodeksi, Jutro, Korni Grupa, Pro Arte
Past membersSlobodan Vujović
Robert Ivanović
Srđan Stefanović
Zdravko Čolić
Hari Varešanović
Ivica Sindic
Krešimir Vlašić
Ismeta Dervoz-Krvavac
Perica Stojanović
Vlado Pravdić
Ivica Vinković
Zlatko Hold
Andrej Stefanović
Jasna Gospić
Miroslav Balta
Sead Džumhur
Miroslav Maraus
Sinan Alimanović
Neven Pocrnjić
Ranko Rihtman
Damir Jurišić
Darko Arkus
Slavko Jerković
Enes Bajramović
Hrvoje Tikvicki
Nenad Čikojević
Edo Bogeljić
Nazif Dinarević
Tihomir Doleček
Miroslav Šaranović
Sead Avdić
Dragan Nikačević
Velibor Čolović

The band is most notable for its 1975 hit single "Zemljo moja" as well as for representing Yugoslavia at the 1976 Eurovision Song Contest with "Ne mogu skriti svoju bol" — both times with Ismeta Dervoz on vocals. It is further notable for the 1977 hit single "Dođi u pet do pet", this time with Jasna Gospić as the vocalist. Additionally, the band gained retroactive notability for having two of its lead singers — Zdravko Čolić (sang with the band from 1969 until 1971) and Hari Varešanović (from 1979 until 1980) — later go on to Yugoslav pop stardom in their respective solo careers.[1]

HistoryEdit

Ambasadori were founded in Sarajevo in 1968[2] by two military brass band musicians and Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) ranked officers — keyboardist Robert Ivanović who had been transferred from Belgrade shortly prior to establishing the band and trombonist Srđan Stefanović. At the time of the band's launch, both Ivanović and Stefanović were additionally participating in the Sarajevo military orchestra.

They soon brought guitarist Slobodan "Vuja" Vujović, a Fojnica-born and Sarajevo-raised mechanical engineering student, into the band. In addition to his university studies, Vujović often hung around Dom Milicije (Police House) that provided free on-site instruments for the musically-inclined youth, which is where Ivanović and Stefanović met him and got him to join their group.

Ambasadori obtained their first instruments and sound equipment by purchasing them from a travelling Bulgarian ensamble that had been performing at Sarajevo's Hotel Evropa. Still mostly a cover band at this stage, their repertoire centered around the 1960s rhythm & blues covers (Chicago, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, etc.) along with more covers of obligatory Yugoslav hits of the day and years past, and finally even a few original numbers written by the band members thrown into the mix.

Their very first performance took place in May 1969 in Sarajevo's Dom JNA (Yugoslav People's Army House).

Zdravko Čolić years (1969-1971)Edit

Soon after their debut performance, eighteen-year-old Zdravko Čolić, a fresh high school graduate, joined the band as its new vocalist. Impressed with Čolić's vocal range, clean intonation, and the overall ease with which he sang, the band decided to immediately start looking for as many live performance opportunities as possible. With young Čolić on vocals, Vujović on guitar, Ivanović on keyboards, Ivica Sindičić on saxophone, Srđan Stefanović on trombone, Slobodan Jerković on bass guitar, Vlatko Anković on trumpet, and Tihomir Določek on drums, they gigged around town in Sarajevo — in clubs like Trasa, FIS, and Sloga as well as the odd appearance in recently built Dom Mladih (Youth House), part of the new Skenderija complex. Most of these appearances were booked and arranged through local music enthusiast and promoter Želimir "Čičak" Altarac who practically became the band's unofficial manager. Over time, the group started getting more gig offers, which presented a problem since band leaders Ivanović and Stefanović as well as saxophonist Sindičić and drummer Določek, all of whom were also JNA officers, weren't available for many of them due to their army obligations, and those offers had to be declined.

By 1970, seeing their business opportunities limited by the strange setup within the band and further discouraged by the band's founders Ivanović and Stefanović enrolling in the Sarajevo Music Academy that took up a lot of their time and focus, Vujović and Čolić decided to step out and form a new group, Novi Ambasadori (New Ambassadors), bringing in drummer Perica Stojanović, organist Vlado Pravdić, saxophonist Andrej "Lale" Stefanović, and bassist Zlatko Hold. With Vujović now firmly established as the band's driving force and main songwriter, they looked to forge a new career course. Almost immediately, Vujović's Novi Ambasadori dropped the 'Novi' part, continuing on as just Ambasadori since the original band's founders Ivanović and Stefanović quickly gave up on protecting the name.

With an almost all new lineup, the band appeared at the 1970 Vaš šlager sezone annual schlager competition in Sarajevo where they finished in 7th place with "Plačem za tvojim usnama", a song that songwriter Zdenko Runjić claimed to have composed and officially signed his name under despite it being a blatant rip-off of The Tremeloes' "Suddenly You Love Me" (itself a cover of Riccardo Del Turco's "Uno tranquillo"). No one from the festival noticed the plagiarism and the band avoided controversy. The song would become the band's debut release — 7-inch (two-side) single "Plačem za tvojim usnama" / "Zapjevaj" released in 1971 by Beograd Disk label. The Vaš šlager sezone performance was further significant since it marked the band's first television appearance, exposing them to a much larger audience. One of the people in that TV audience was Kornelije Kovač, an already influential and established figure in Yugoslav music circles — former member of Indexi now fronting his own band Korni Grupa — who took note of young Čolić's "clean tenor and good stage presence"

Ambasadori also expanded their repertoire so that in addition to R&B they now also began playing covers of Led Zeppelin, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Creedence Clearwater Revival, etc. In the summer of 1970, Ambasadori scored a month-long gig with Indexi in Dubrovnik, their first tour-like experience and a taste of life on the road.

A year later, during summer 1971, Kovač finally met up with Čolić by coming to an Ambasadori gig in Mostar. He quickly managed to convince the young singer to move to Belgrade and join his Korni Grupa as replacement for Dado Topić.

Ismeta Dervoz years (1972-1976)Edit

After Čolić left, eighteen-year-old Ismeta Dervoz became the new Ambasadori vocalist. Dervoz's only previous musical engagement of note had been singing for cover band Kodeksi.

Dervoz's first live appearance with Ambasadori came at the 1972 Skopje Festival where they performed the Kemal Monteno-written-and-composed song "Sviraj mi, sviraj". The same year, Jugoton released their 7-inch single "Poslednja serenada" / "Idila jednog mačka" / "Hej, vi" with Dervoz on vocals on each of the three tracks.

In 1973, in line with SFR Yugoslavia's new policy of decentralization, Diskoton music label was established in Sarajevo with Ambasadori bandleader Vujović named as its top executive.

During fall 1973, Ambasadori went on a tour of the Soviet Union.

In early 1974, twenty-six-year-old Diskoton chief executive Vujović rejected a fledgling local band called Bijelo Dugme, a move that would go down in Yugoslav popular music history as an example of a bad judgement call after they signed a long-term deal with rival label Jugoton and immediately went on to nationwide fame with millions of records sold.

In 1975, Ambasadori scored a sizable hit with their entry at that year's Vaš šlager sezone festival — Kemal Monteno-written patriotic schlager song "Zemljo moja", inspired by and dedicated to Yugoslav gastarbeiters leaving their homeland in search of expanded employment opportunities throughout Western Europe. Finishing fourth among the sixteen competitors, they additionally won the festival's interpretation award while the main prize went to Zdravko Čolić, their former singer who had recently gone solo, and his song "Zvao sam je Emili".[3]

 
Ambasadori rehearsing at Nederlands Congresgebouw in The Hague ahead of their 1976 Eurovision performance.

Ambasadori represented SFR Yugoslavia at the 1976 Eurovision Song Contest in The Hague with song "Ne mogu skriti svoju bol" (written by Slobodan Đurasović and composed by Vujović), finishing second last among the 18 participating countries. Their disappointing finish caused a lot of negative reaction in the country[4] and precipitated its 5-year withdrawal from the competition.

Fresh off their Eurovision disappointment, Ambasadori returned to the Vaš šlager sezone where they had had so much success a year earlier. This time performing Marina Tucaković-written and Nenad Pavlović-composed "Usne imam da ga ljubim", the song didn't get much attention at the festival, finishing seventh out of sixteen participants as the main prize went to Kemal Monteno and his Alija Hafizović-written love letter to the city of Sarajevo — "Sarajevo, ljubavi moja".[5] Yugoslav press also reported ironic heckles of "Bravo Hag" ('Good job at the Hague') during Ambasadori performance as the poor Eurovision showing continued lingering over them.[5]

Soon after the 1976 Vaš šlager sezone appearance, Dervoz left the band. She was eventually replaced with sixteen-year-old Jasna Gospić.

Jasna Gospić years (1977-1979)Edit

With teenage Gospić whose only prior musical experience had been signing in a band called Plima with her brother Zoran, Ambasadori leader Vujović continued the practice of acquiring young and inexperienced vocalists. Still a high school student at Sarajevo's Second Gymnasium,[6] Gospić's first appearance with Ambasadori took place at the 1977 Vaš šlager sezone with "Dođi u pet do pet". Composed by Vujović with lyrics by Slobodan Đurasović, the cheeky song turned out to be an unexpected Yugoslavia-wide hit despite failing to get much attention from the festival jury that awarded the top prize to Indexi's "U jednim plavim očima".

Riding the unanticipated popularity of "Dođi u pet do pet", the band began touring a lot more throughout the country while also continuing to appear at various schlager festivals. However, the age gap between the band members and their teenage vocalist soon began causing issues. Gospić herself talked about it in later interviews, describing the strange dynamic between the band members — all of whom were married with wives and families — who saw the band as a job and their teenage vocalist, half their age, who was mostly concerned with hanging out with friends.[7]

Other Ambasadori members that came and went throughout the 1968 -1970s include various musicians active on the Sarajevo music scene at the time and after, such as trombone player Srđan Stefanović, keyboard player Robert Ivanović, keyboard player Sinan Alimanovic, keyboard player Neven Pocrnjić, saxophone player Ivica Sindic, drummer "Tica", trumpet player Krešimir "Keco" Vlašić (ex Pro Arte), singer Ismeta Dervoz (ex Kodeksi), drummer Perica Stojanović (ex Jutro), organist Vlado Pravdić, bassist Ivica Vinković, bassist Zlatko Hold, saxophonist Andrej "Lale" Stefanović, etc.

Preceded by
Pepel in Kri
Yugoslavia in the Eurovision Song Contest
1976
Succeeded by
Vajta

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ http://www.rockomotiva.com/starinarnica/feljton/sarajevska-pop-rock-skola-ambasadori-cola-ismeta-hari-2/
  2. ^ http://sarajevo.co.ba/grupa-ambasadori/
  3. ^ Z., Z. (1975). "Ambasadori svoje muzike". RTV revija. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  4. ^ Glavan, Darko (April 1976). "Pjesmice lažnog sjaja". Tina. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  5. ^ a b Marjanović, Višnja (April 1976). "Sarajevo, muziko naša". RTV revija. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  6. ^ Kurtović, Elvis J. (8 October 2019). "Radio Days". RadioSarajevo.ba. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  7. ^ Dobrosavljević, S. (20 October 2018). "Jasna Gospić: Mogla sam da budem velika zvezda". Večernje novosti. Retrieved 22 October 2019.

External linksEdit