Niebiesko-Czarni (Blue-Blacks) were one of most popular Polish rock groups of the 1960s and early 1970s. Founded by Franciszek Walicki.Czesław Niemen played in the band for several years.
Niebiesko Czarni were one of the first and most exciting beat groups in Poland. Apart from being an extremely strong and diverse unit, Niebiesko Czarni were also a starting point in careers of many famous Polish musicians, notably – Czeslaw Niemen and future members of Czerwone Gitary.
Came together in September 1961 when Frantiszek Walicki, founding member of Czerwono Czarni, decided to form a new beat combo with the help from Jerzy Kossela, a young talented guitarist from another halcyon Polish beat group – Elektron. Kossela formed first line-up with Marek Szczepkowski (vocals), Bernard Dornowski (vocals), Witold Nowak (guitar), Henryk Zomierski (bass), Daniel Danielowski (piano) and Jerzy Kowalski (piano). Made official debut in January 1962.
In July 1962 in came sax player Wlodzimierz Wander, who became band’s musical director in 1962-64 while Kossela was in army. Series of gigs in Sopot in summer 1962 helped to form band’s repertoire which initially contained of beat and twist versions of Polish folklore melodies.
Made first recordings in November: nine songs sung by Czeslaw Wydrzycki (future Niemen).
In spite of Niebiesko Czarni constantly jumping from success to success, their line-up was extremely fragile. Shortly after appearance at the national song festival in Opole in 1963 band lost Danielowski, Zomierski and Kowalski. In came Krzystof Klenczon (guitar), Janusz Poplawski (guitar), Zbigniew Podgajny (organ, piano, harp), Zbigniew Bernolak (bass) and Andrzej Nebeski (drums).
In December 1963 Poplawski, Klenczon, Bernolak, Podgajny, Wander, Nebeski, Niemen plus Szczepkowski and Dornowski as backing singers and new lead singers Helena Majdaniec and Michaj Burano went to Paris to perform at famous ‘Olympia’ hall. Made series of highly successful gigs from 12th to 25th of December with Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick, The Shirelles and Frank Adamo.
Came home in early 1964 to open for Marlene Dietrich in Congress Hall, Warsaw. In came new lead singer Wojciech Korda (born W. Kiedziora). Niebiesko Czarni impressed Dietrich so much that she decided to record their song ‘Czy mnie jescze pamietasz’ (‘Do You Still Remember Me?’), penned by Niemen.
National song festival in Opole later that year was the last for the band to feature Klenczon. When attempts to find new lead guitarist failed, that duties were passed on to Poplawski. Reformed band embarked on two-month tour of Sweden in September.
1965 was probably the most productive year for Niebiesko Czarni. They made over 30 (!) radio sessions, mostly still unreleased. The year brought major personnel change as well. Wander, Bernolak, Nebeski and Niemen left. In came Krzysztof Wisniarowski (bass), Tadeusz Gluchowski (drums) and the longest-lasting female lead singer – Adriana Rusowicz.
Released debut album (first LP by one band ever to be released in Poland) in May 1966. Toured Hungary and Yugoslavia, played in Paris again. Broke-up with Burano in November.
Late 60s were spent in various ambitious attempts to improve band’s music with soul, blues, psychedelic and avant-garde elements. Korda added brass section first (to be heard on second album), then, in early 1968 brought in two sax players: Miroslaw Polark and Wieslaw Zakowicz. Majdaniec and Wisniarowski both left in summer of 1967. In came Krzysztof Potock. In 1967 and 68 Niebiesko Czarni were making regular club tours of West Germany and Benelux. Made some sessions for Radio Luxembourg. Niebiesko Czarni was also the first Polish band to release a record in Western country – a 1967 EP ‘Les Idoles de Pologne’, issued in France.
Current musical experiments and psychedelic gigs distanced band from singles charts and reader’s polls, but established them as a serious and solid rock act. Early 70s were spent in constant tours of France, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Finland, USA and Canada.
Band’s 10th anniversary (1972) was marked with release of the first Polish rock opera ‘Naga’ (‘Naked’). An extremely daring project for early 70s Poland, ‘Naga’ was also a musical and cultural milestone. Amazing vocal work (with guest appearance of Stan Borys), naked dancers and Poplawski playing guitar with a bow turned ‘Naga’ into an enormously successful project. First of more than 150 stage shows based on the opera took place in Gdynia on April 23rd, 1973. ‘Naga’ also dominated in band’s stage set in early and mid-70s.
Period of relative personnel stability soon ended. While Rusowicz, Korda, Poplawski, Podgajny and Zakowicz remained with the band until the end, other members were coming and going. Andrzej Pawlik, Joachim Rzychon, Benedykt Radecki, Wladyslaw Jagiello, Jerzy Piotrowski, Marek Slazyk, Jerzy Dabrowski all went though Niebiesko Czarni between 1973 and 1976.
Long tour of USSR in 1976 was also band’s swan song, as their story ended with Lvov (Ukraine) gig on June 30th. There were three reformations of Niebiesko Czarni. First one – in 1986 to play at ‘Old Rock Meeting’ gig celebrating 25 years of Polish rock. Second – a huge gig including nearly all past members of the band to celebrate it’s own quarter-century anniversary a year later.
The grounds of third, and final, reformation (October 10th, 1992) were sad – an untimely death of Ada Rusowicz in car accident on January 1st, 1991 (easternrock)................
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