Zdravko Čolić

Last updated

Zdravko Čolić
ZdravkoColic (cropped).JPG
Čolić in 2007
Born (1951-05-30) 30 May 1951 (age 69)
  • Singer
  • songwriter
Years active1967–present
Aleksandra Aleksić
(m. 2001)
Musical career
Associated acts
Website zdravkocolic-cola.com OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg

Zdravko Čolić (Serbian Cyrillic : Здравко Чолић, pronounced  [zdrǎːv̞kɔ̝ t͡ʃɔ̝̌ːlit͡ɕ] ; born 30 May 1951) is a pop singer from Bosnia and Herzegovina, [a] widely considered as one of the greatest vocalists and cultural icons of former Yugoslavia. [1] [2] Dubbed the 'Tom Jones' of the Balkans [3] [ page needed ] he has garnered notoriety in Southeastern Europe for his emotionally expressive tenor voice, [4] fluent stage presence [5] and numerous critically and commercially acclaimed albums and singles. [6]


Among his songs, "Ti si mi u krvi" (from same-named album) is widely considered one of the most popular ballads of ex-Yugoslav music. [7]

Early life

Born in Sarajevo, PR Bosnia and Herzegovina, FPR Yugoslavia to Herzegovinian Serb parents, police administrator Vladimir from the Vlahovići village near Ljubinje and homemaker Stana Čolić from Trebinje, [8] [9] young Čolić showed an early interest in sports. He was active as a football goalkeeper in FK Željezničar's youth system, before switching to track and field, where he also excelled. At one point he ran a 100 meter dash in 11.3 seconds, and continually placed high at various events he entered (at one of them he finished just behind future star Nenad Stekić). Čolić gave up on his sports career, feeling he lacked the discipline required to compete on a regular basis.

Čolić attended Vladimir Perić Valter elementary school in the Grbavica neighbourhood where he grew up. He also attended music school where he studied guitar playing. As a hobby, he took part in various school recitals, and also acted in a couple of plays at the Pionirsko pozorište (youth theatre).

Early career

Early years

Since the youngest age Čolić showed an interest in music. With friend Braco Isović, he played guitar at informal and impromptu park gatherings through which they became somewhat locally known as "Čola i Isa sa Grbavice". At the time Čolić was trying to emulate pop schlager music that dominated Yugoslav and Italian festivals. His first love was Milena Mijatović from Belgrade.

His first significant public singing experience occurred in 1967, when he spent some time at the Montenegrin coast for the Republic Day. Staying in the house his father owned in the coastal community of Baošići, 17-year-old Čolić was persuaded by a friend, Nedim Idrizović, to enter the amateur signing competition in nearby Bijela. He won second prize singing "Lady Madonna" by The Beatles.

Encouraged by this unexpected success, and soon after returning to Sarajevo, Čolić entered his first band—a group called Mladi i lijepi. This engagement didn't last, however, because around the time he graduated high school in 1969; he moved to the more established Ambasadori, a band whose two incarnations he would end up staying with for the next two and a half years.


At the time of Čolić's arrival, Ambasadori employed a strange setup: they were essentially a military cover band as all the musicians, except for bandleader Slobodan Vujović, were army recruits. Their repertoire centred around 1960s rhythm & blues (Chicago, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, etc.) along with obligatory Yugoslav hits of the day and years past, and finally even a few original numbers written by the bandmembers thrown into the mix. Over time, the group started getting more gig offers, which presented a problem since its army part was not available for many of them and those offers had to be declined.

Seeing their opportunities limited by the strange situation, Vujović and Čolić decided to step out and form Novi ambasadori in 1970, bringing in drummer Perica Stojanović, organist Vlado Pravdić, saxophonist Lale Stefanović, and bassist Zlatko Hold. With the almost all new lineup, the band also expanded its repertoire so that in addition to R&B they now also played covers of Led Zeppelin, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Creedence Clearwater Revival, etc. In the summer of 1970, Novi ambasadori scored a month-long gig with Indexi in Dubrovnik, which was their first tour-like experience. Next step was competing at the 1971 Vaš šlager sezone annual festival in Sarajevo where they finished in 7th place with a song "Plačem za tvojim usnama" that songwriter Zdenko Runjić claimed to have composed and officially signed his name under, despite the fact that it was a blatant rip-off of The Tremeloes' "Suddenly You Love Me" (which actually is a cover of Riccardo Del Turco's "Uno tranquillo" ). No one from the festival noticed this plagiarism and the band avoided the controversy. The song was even released on a 7-inch single "Plačem za tvojim usnama" / "Zapjevaj" by Beograd Disk and sold surprisingly well. The performance at Vaš šlager sezone was also 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, who immediately was intrigued by Čolić's "clean tenor and good stage presence". [10]

Čolić was soon offered a "bench role" with Indexi, to fill in for their singer Davorin Popović, and even performed with them a couple of times.

Korni grupa

In the meantime, during summer of 1971, Čolić finally met face to face with Kornelije Kovač who came to see Čolić play in Mostar and invited him to join his Korni grupa as replacement to their departed singer Dado Topić. Unlike Amabasadori, Korni grupa performed their own material and generally had a much more studious and serious approach to music, so Čolić immediately jumped at the opportunity.

On 10 September 1971, twenty-year-old Čolić left his hometown and moved to the capital Belgrade in order to join his new band. However, his stint with Korni grupa ultimately proved to be very short and largely unsuccessful as he never meshed well enough with the rest of the group musically, finding it hard to fit into their progressive rock style. He recorded three tracks with them, "Kukavica, "Gospa Mica gazdarica", and "Pogledaj u nebo", all of which were released on the 7-inch single by PGP RTB. Track "Gospa Mica gazdarica" managed to create minor controversy due to the slightly risque lyrics written from the perspective of a young man imploring his older female landlord to allow him into her bed—a nod to Čolić's life at the time since he was living away from home in sublet apartments. Due to numerous complaints, the song was taken off radio playlists.

Soon, however, Čolić and Kovač agreed that it would be better for Čolić to go solo. Only six months upon his arrival to Belgrade, he returned to Sarajevo determined to give solo career a try.

Solo career

Early activity: Schlager festivals

On 15 April 1972 Čolić's first solo move was taking part in the Vaš šlager sezone competitive festival in Sarajevo. He won the third audience prize as well as the interpretation award with Kemal Monteno written song "Sinoć nisi bila tu" that was originally meant to be sung by Josipa Lisac who opted out at the last moment.

Right away, under Kovač's guidance Čolić managed to establish a fair amount of prominence as a solo act—and on 20 May 1972 the two appeared as guests on the very popular TV Belgrade variety show Obraz uz obraz hosted by Milena Dravić and Dragan Nikolić. The same year, Čolić made further appearances at the Split festival (with song "Stara pjesma"), Priština festival, and Skopje Festival (with song "Moj bol"), before embarking on a tour of Soviet Union together with Indexi, Bisera Veletanlić, Sabahudin Kurt, and Sabina Varešanović.

Eurovision and more festivals

Colic in Pozarevac in 1973. Zdravko Colic in Pozarevac.jpg
Čolić in Požarevac in 1973.

Then came the first big break that launched him on the road to stardom. By winning at the Opatija festival with song "Gori vatra" written by Kemal Monteno, Čolić got to represent SFR Yugoslavia at the 1973 Eurovision Song Contest on 7 April 1973 in Luxembourg. The song placed poorly, but became a well-respected hit at home.

Riding the wave of exposure the Eurovision appearance afforded him, Čolić continued entering competitive festivals throughout SFR Yugoslavia over the next two years with plenty of success. At Hit parada festival in Belgrade on 23 November 1974, he won with the song "Ona spava", composed and written by Kornelije Kovač. Next year, 1975, Čolić bagged a few more festival wins with Kovač's songs—Beogradsko proleće with "April u Beogradu", and Vaš šlager sezone with "Zvao sam je Emili". Other songs he performed at various festivals in those years were "Bling blinge blinge bling" (1973 Vaš šlager sezone, composed by Zdenko Runjić), "Ljubav je samo riječ" (1974 Beogradsko proleće, composed by Vojkan Borisavljević), and "Zelena si rijeka bila" (1974 Vaš šlager sezone, composed by Kemal Monteno).

Around the same time he also signed a deal with the German arm of WEA record label and did two singles for that market. German producers were of the opinion that his name was too difficult to pronounce for their consumers so they marketed him as Dravco. Soon, however, Čolić decided not to pursue his options in that country further mostly because he was unwilling to move to Germany.

Debut album

His first solo album was Ti i ja (You and I), released in 1975 by Jugoton. Closely overseen by Kornelije Kovač, the album brought Čolić more hits like "Vagabund", "Igraš se vatrom", and "Loše vino" (written by Arsen Dedić and Goran Bregović). Cover sleeve was done by Dragan S. Stefanović, another collaborator who would remain with Čolić for years to come. Čolić's image especially appealed to girls and women, something that would remain a staple of his entire career. The same year, cashing in on his sudden popularity upswing, PGP RTB released a compilation of his festival singles under the name Zdravko Čolić.

Despite, achieving great prominence already, Čolić continued appearing at the occasional festival such as the Zagreb one in 1976 where he surprisingly finished in fourth place singing "Ti si bila, uvijek bila". At the end of that year he went on a Yugoslavia-wide tour with Indexi. After the Belgrade concert, the measure of his sudden fame was on public display during autograph-signing at the Jugoton store as the cordon of girls rushed the store, breaking a window glass in attempt to get closer to him.

The next year, 1977, he did the festival circuit for the last time, first in Zagreb with "Živiš u oblacima", followed by an appearance at the Festival of Patriotic Songs also in Zagreb, where he performed Druže Tito mi ti se kunemo  [ sr ]. That song was soon released on a 7-inch single record and sold 300,000 copies.

Mass popularity

His second album, Ako priđeš bliže (If You Come Closer), released later that year, was even more successful, creating mass hysteria among girls for his music. The copies were extremely sought-after, as 50,000 sold in the first two weeks alone. The album contained some of his best known and liked songs such as "Glavo luda", "Zagrli me", "Juče još", "Pjevam danju, pjevam noću", "Jedna zima sa Kristinom", and "Produži dalje".

On 1 April 1978, he started an ambitious tour of SFR Yugoslavia with Lokice dance group in support of the album that had already sold 150,000 copies. Čolić also started to play the guitar occasionally on stage. Putujući zemljotres (Traveling Earthquake Tour) produced and organized by Maksa Ćatović moved all over the country, soon becoming a phenomenon the likes of which the country had not seen before. The scenes of screaming girls rushing the stage were repeated in a city after a city. The tour's climax took place in Belgrade at Red Star FC stadium on 5 September 1978 with 70,000 people in attendance despite the fact that Čolić already played two sold-out shows in Belgrade a few months earlier on 4 and 8 April at Hala Pionir. Supporting Čolić on stage that night were Chris Nicholls on keyboards and Dado Topić on bass guitar, with old favourites Kornelije Kovač, Arsen Dedić, Kemal Monteno, Josip Boček, Trio Strune, and RTV Belgrade singing quintet appearing as guests. Čolić and the great tour essentially became a cultural phenomenon transcending musical boundaries such that in the lead-up to the big Belgrade concert journalist Dušan Savković and film director Jovan Ristić decided to make a movie about Čolić. Savković wrote a rudimentary screenplay, but the movie ended up being a 90-minute feature documentary titled Pjevam danju, pjevam noću that follows Čolić from Belgrade concert onwards and looks back on his career up to that point. Two days after the Belgrade concert, Čolić was in his hometown Sarajevo at Koševo Stadium for the tour's grand finale; however, the rain interrupted much of the concert. By the end of its promotion cycle, the album sold more than 700,000 copies and with later re-releases during the 1990s went over the million mark.

Čolić also got the attention of Ziggy Loch, director of German WEA, who immediately after watching the Belgrade concert wanted to renew his contract. Singles with songs "Jedina" and "Zagrli me" were released for the German market as well as the disco single "I'm Not a Robot Man" / "Light Me". However, Čolić refused to move to Germany for the second time, and instead on 14 November 1978 went to serve his mandatory Yugoslav Army stint. Twenty seven years of age at the time, Čolić was assigned to a unit in Valjevo, before getting transferred to Belgrade, and finally Požarevac. After serving 10 months, he got out of the military service on 14 September 1979.


Upon his return from the army, Čolić started work on his third album—that came out in the spring of 1980, entitled Zbog tebe ; it brought more hits as Čola further secured his position of the most popular pop performer in Yugoslavia.

In 1984, Čolić moved from his hometown Sarajevo to Ljubljana where he started a private business with Goran Bregović through their Kamarad label. He then lived in Zagreb for five years. 1988 saw his hit "Jastreb". In 1989, he moved back to Belgrade.


After his 1990 album "Da ti kažem šta mi je", he didn't make another album until late 1997, [11] when he embarked on a comeback with Komuna label album Kad bi moja bila, and regained much of his popularity. The following year, Čolić had nine sold-out concerts at Sava Centar. [11]

In October 2005, he performed two concerts at the Belgrade Arena. [11]

In 2010, he had a big concert on the Asim Ferhatović Hase Stadium in Sarajevo, within his Kad pogledaš me preko ramena tour, in front of over 60,000 people. On 25 June 2011, he had the biggest concert of his career: on Ušće, in Belgrade, with over 100,000 visitors. His biggest concert to date, it celebrated his 40-year career milestone.

Personal life

At the outbreak of Bosnian War, Čolić moved to Belgrade, and has lived there ever since. Čolić holds a degree in economics from the University of Sarajevo. He is married to wife Aleksandra Aleksić, and has two daughters. [12]


Studio albums


Live albums




  1. ^
    Zdravko Čolić was born in Sarajevo, PR Bosnia and Herzegovina, a federal state in a former FPR Yugoslavia.

    He has said that he "has in some way stayed a citizen of the former country [Yugoslavia], but till today has not stopped feeling as a Sarajlija [Sarajevan]," [13] and that he is "a Sarajevan and Bosnian" wherever he is and "that is the way it will be the rest of" his life. [8]

    He first moved to Belgrade (SR Serbia) in late 1971 to join Korni Grupa, and after living there for six months—he returned to Sarajevo (SR BiH) to finish his studies. [14] He served the SFR Yugoslavia military in SR Serbia between 1978 and 1980. He lived in Ljubljana (SR Slovenia) in 1984; then has lived in Zagreb (SR Croatia) for five years. [13] He finally moved again back to Belgrade in 1989, [11] where he has lived since.

    He has recently been described as a Bosnian-born (or former Bosnian [15] [ page needed ]) Serbian singer. [15] [ page needed ] [3] [ page needed ]

Related Research Articles

Goran Bregović Bosnian musician and composer

Goran Bregović is a recording artist from Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is one of the most internationally known modern musicians and composers of the Slavic-speaking countries in the Balkans, and is one of the few former Yugoslav musicians who has performed at major international venues such as Carnegie Hall, Royal Albert Hall and L'Olympia.


Ambasadori were a Yugoslav schlager pop band from Sarajevo, active from 1968 until 1980.

Mitar Mirić is a Bosnian-born Serbian pop-folk singer. Some of his most popular songs include: "Ciganče", "Nisam lopov", "Voli me danas više nego juče", "Doberman", "Pomirenje", and superhit "Ne može nam niko ništa". He was a long-time collaborator and friend of late Novica Urošević.

Nada Obrić is a Bosnian Serb folk singer.

Kemal Monteno singer-songwriter

Kemal Monteno was a Bosnian and former Yugoslavian recording artist and singer-songwriter whose career stretched from the 1960s to the 2010s.


Galija is a Serbian and former Yugoslav rock band from Niš.

Hari Mata Hari

Hari Mata Hari is a Bosnian rock band. Hari Mata Hari is the stage name for the singer Hajrudin "Hari" Varešanović. The group originated from the city of Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The group has performed over 1,000 concerts and sold 5 million albums to date. Their songs are among the most famous and popular love ballads in the former Yugoslavia era. Hari Mata Hari was the representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Eurovision Song Contest 2006 held in Athens, Greece. Coincidentally, hari mata hari is Malay for 'day of the sun, or Sunday'.

Mirza Delibašić Hall Sports venue in Sarajevo

The Mirza Delibašić Hall, commonly known as Skenderija Hall (Скендерија), is an indoor sporting arena located in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a part of Skenderija.

Željko Samardžić

Željko Samardžić is a folk singer from Bosnia and Herzegovina, popular throughout the former Yugoslav republics. Born in Mostar, he achieved fame when he moved to Belgrade as a result of the Bosnian War.

Kornelije Kovač Serbian composer

Kornelije "Bata" Kovač is a Serbian composer.

Oliver Mandić is a Serbian and Yugoslav rock musician, composer, and producer.

Popular music in Yugoslavia includes the pop and rock music of the former SFR Yugoslavia, including all their genres and subgenres. The scene included the constituent republics: SR Slovenia, SR Croatia, SR Bosnia and Herzegovina, SR Montenegro, SR Macedonia and SR Serbia and its subunits: SAP Vojvodina and SAP Kosovo. The pop and rock scene was a part of the general Music of Yugoslavia, which also included folk, classical music, jazz etc. Within Yugoslavia and internationally, the phrases ex-YU or ex-Yugoslav Pop and Rock both formally and informally always refers to the SFRY period only, not including Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1992–2003).

Korni Grupa

Korni Grupa was a Yugoslav rock band from Belgrade, also known as the Kornelyans, the name which they used during a short-lived foray into the international market. Formed in 1968, Korni Grupa was one of the first Yugoslav rock bands to achieve major mainstream popularity, and the first Yugoslav supergroup. Korni Grupa is considered to be one of the most prominent and influential bands in the history of rock music in Yugoslavia.

Igor Cukrov

Igor Cukrov is a Croatian singer-songwriter, musician and television personality. He came to media attention as one of sixteen contestants of talents show Operacija trijumf, Balkan version of Endemol's Star Academy. Cukrov represented Croatia in the Eurovision Song Contest 2009, alongside Andrea Šušnjara, with the song "Lijepa Tena", written by Tonči Huljić. The song qualified to the final from the second semi-final as the jury's selected qualifier. It eventually finished in the 18th place with 45 points.

Sabahudin Kurt was a Bosnian folk and pop singer. Kurt represented Yugoslavia in Copenhagen in the Eurovision Song Contest 1964 with the entry "Život je sklopio krug". He finished in thirteenth place, scoring 0 points.

Aleksandar "Saša" Habić is a Serbian and former Yugoslav musician, record producer and composer. During his career as a producer he worked with artists like Piloti, Divlji Anđeli, U Škripcu, Jakarta, Beograd, Dorian Gray, Laki Pingvini, Bebi Dol, Željko Bebek, Luna, Laza Ristovski, Slomljena Stakla, Bajaga i Instruktori, Zana, Kornelije Kovač, Alisa, Dejan Cukić, Oktobar 1864, Rambo Amadeus, YU grupa, Galija, Nikola Čuturilo, Riblja Čorba, Kerber, Vampiri, Ruž, Regina, Van Gogh, Generacija 5, Familija, Smak, Zdravko Čolić, Dragoljub Đuričić, Cactus Jack, and others.

Zuzi Zu

Zumreta Midžić, known by her stage name Zuzi Zu, is a popular Bosnian artist: singer, musician and songwriter. She performs various music genres from pop-rock to Bosnian folk - sevdalinka and Gypsy music. She was born in Velika Kladuša, Bosnia and Herzegovina and for many years she was living and working in Sarajevo.

Serbian pop is the pop music scene of Serbia. During the 1940s, 1950s 1960s, 1970s and the 1980s, while Serbia was a constituent republic of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Serbian pop scene was a part of the SFR Yugoslav pop scene.

Lutajuća Srca

Lutajuća Srca is a Serbian and Yugoslav rock band from Niš.

Ranko Rihtman is Bosnian pianist, composer, arranger, and conductor.


  1. ZDRAVKO ČOLIĆ 'Od 1985. do 1990. uopće nisam pjevao, a u tom sam periodu samo s jednom osobom iz glazbenog svijeta komunicirao: Arsenom Dedićem'
  3. 1 2 Deliso, Christopher (2009). Culture and customs of Serbia and Montenegro. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN   9780313344374. OCLC   428980841. Among them, arguably the most beloved is the Bosnian-born Zdravko Colic (b. 1951). The fifty-seven-year-old singer, who started out as a balladeer in the early 1970s, could perhaps best be described as Serbia's version of Tom Jones.
  4. Najveća regionalna zvijezda Zdravko Čolić, održat će veliki koncert 18. kolovoza u Areni u Puli!
  5. Ova je glumica prva ljubav najvećeg zavodnika na Balkanu - ZDRAVKO COLIC
  6. Zdravko Čolić u varaždinskoj Areni: Karte su u prodaj, a dobra zabava zagarantirana!
  7. - 24sata.hr Otkrivamo vam kako je nastao legendarni hit 'Ti si mi u krvi'
  8. 1 2 "Zdravko Čolić: Razvijao sam glas pjevajući gangu u rodnoj Hercegovini" [Zdravko Čolić: I have developed my voice by singing ganga in birth Herzegovina]. vrisak.info (in Croatian). 14 October 2018. Archived from the original on 7 November 2019. Retrieved 7 November 2019. Ja sam Sarajlija i Bosanac gdje god bio i to će tako biti cijeli život.
  9. "Zdravko Čolić". story.rs (in Serbian). 2014. Archived from the original on 22 October 2013. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  10. "YouTube". YouTube. Archived from the original on 17 April 2016. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  11. 1 2 3 4 Petar Peca Popović (10 September 2016). "Sa njim to taje dugo: Pre tačno 45 godina Zdravko Čolić je prvi put stigao u Beograd". Blic. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  12. "Biografija Zdravko Čolić" (in Serbian). Puls. Archived from the original on 5 July 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  13. 1 2 "Interview with Zdravko Čolić". Slobodna Dalmacija (in Croatian). 26 April 2007. Retrieved 12 August 2015. Na neki način ja sam ostao stanovnik bivše države, ali do dana današnjeg se nisam prestao osjećati Sarajlijom ...
  14. "Zdravko Čolić". nadlanu. 19 August 2013. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  15. 1 2 Peddie, Ian (2011). Popular Music and Human Rights. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. pp. 1–. ISBN   978-1-4094-3758-1. Meanwhile, big Serbian (or former Bosnian) stars like Ceca, Zdravko Colic,


Preceded by
Tereza Kesovija
Yugoslavia in the Eurovision Song Contest
Succeeded by
Korni grupa