Ivan KrÃ¡l (born 12 May 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, TÃ©lÃ©phone , Patti Smith , Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Simple Minds, and John Waite, among others.
He started his American music career during the early 1970s glam rock scene in New York where his band, Luger , performed at many trendy venues, including Maxâs Kansas City. After their breakup in 1973, he joined Shaun Cassidy's backing group, then Blondie, then Patti Smith, then Iggy Pop.
Between 1975â"1979, Kral 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 itâs "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
His work also appears on other Smith albums, including Radio Ethiopia (1976), Easter (1978) and Wave (1979).
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 its â500 Greatest Songs of All Time,â and has been recorded by many including U2, Simple Minds and Pearl Jam.
Ivan Kral was a refugee from Czechoslovakia, he moved to the USA in 1966 with his parents who were diplomats. After the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, Kral decided not to return.
Kral 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".
Kral also filmed his bandmates and friends at rehearsals, apartments, Bottom Line, and CBGB club. He compiled the footage into a 1976 film titled âThe Blank Generationâ (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 Wayne County and more, before they had record deals. No Wave filmmaker Amos Poe helped Kral edit "The Blank Generation" by adding music from each bandâs cassettes and cutting irrelevant scenes.
âThe Blank Generationâ 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.
Kral also shot three rare short films from 1976 â" 1979 titled âRatâ, âRavenâ, and âRabbitâ which capture his days in the Patti Smith Group, with her band backstage and onstage.
In 1979, after Pattiâs last show in Florence, Italy, Iggy Pop invited Kral to Rockfield Studios in Wales to work on his Soldier album, with David Bowie as producer. After the "Soldier" tour, Kral became Iggyâs co-writer and guitarist for all the original songs on his 1981 album, Party.
Kral 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 .
The 1980s brought many projects, though nothing long term. He recorded and toured with former Babys singer, John Waite and co-wrote songs for his Ignition album.
Kral 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, Kral 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.
From there, he ran a New York studio named PAWS where Mick Jagger, B-52âs, and reggae talents like Kiddus I rehearsed.
In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell and eastern Europe emerged from Soviet-style communism. Kral 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 Kral to help shape the new Czech rock scene. Because he spoke Czech and had some success âin the westâ 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 Kral's 1995 album. John Cale of the Velvet Underground wrote and recorded the piano for the song which only appears on Kral's "Nostalgia" album in the Czech Republic.
Kral'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 and Polygram were recorded in the Czech Republic or in Seattle.
He is a collector of late avante-garde Czech photographer Frantisek Drtikol. The video for his song "Winner Takes All" was inspired by Drtikol's work with the female form.
Kral wrote music for the memorial of President Vaclav 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, Kral worked with The Vipers and the Band of Outsiders, along with Czech bands such as Lucie and David Koller, Ivan Hlas, Jiri Suchy, Aneta Langerova, Miros Zbirka, Alice , Debbi, Triny, Garage. He also released many solo albums.
- Nostalgia (1995)
- Looking Back (1996)
- Native: His Native Complete (1996)
- Alias (1997) (with Ivan Hlas, David Koller and Karel Å Å¯cha)
- ModrÃ© z nebe (soundtrack) (1997)
- ProhlÃ©dnutÃ / Clear Eyes (1998)
- ... "dancing barefoot" (1999)
- Dancing Reboot Ivan KrÃ¡l Remixed (remix) (1999)
- Å½ivÄ, dÄtskÃ½m domovÅ¯m (live) (1999)
- Best of Ivan KrÃ¡l (compilation) (2001)
- Cabriolet (soundtrack) (2001)
- Photoalbum (2001)
- ErotickÃ¡ revue (2003)
- Bang Bang! (2005)
- Always (2014)
- Always (2014)
with Patti Smith
- Horses (1975)
- Radio Ethiopia (1976)
- Easter (1978)
- Wave (1979)
- "Masters (Patti Smith compilation)" (1996)
- "Land (Patti Smith compilation)" (2002)
- "Horses/Horses Live (Patti Smith live)" (2005)
- "iTunes Originals (Patti Smith)" (2008)
- "Outside of Society (Patti Smith Greatest Hits)" (2011)
- "The Arista Years 1975 box set" (2011)
- "Deliberately Raw: Iggy & the Stooges (1973)
- "Night Lunch" glam and rock band compilation (1975)
- "The Blank Generation" (1976)
- "Rat (Patti Smith Group)" (1976)
- "Raven (Patti Smith Group)" (1977)
- "Rabbit (Patti Smith Group)" (1979)
with Iggy Pop
- Soldier (1980)
- Party (1981)
with John Waite
- Ignition (1982)
- "No Brakes" (1984)
- "Mask of Smiles (Every Step of the Way) (1985)
- Dure Limite "Ce Soir est ce Soir" (1982) his name being wrongly spelt Yvan Kral on some album credits
with John Cale
- Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1987)
with Eastern Bloc
- Wall to Wall' (1987)
with Sky Cries Mary
- Exit at the Axis (1991)
with Noel Redding and Friends
- Live from Bunkr - Prague (1996)
with Triny Vocal Trio
- Gypsy Streams (2001)
- Official website
- Ivan Kral at the Internet Movie Database