The Plastic People of the Universe

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The Plastic People of the Universe
The Plastic People of the Universe (2010)
The Plastic People of the Universe (2010)
General information
Genre (s) skirt
founding 1968
Founding members
Vratislav Brabenec
Milan Hlavsa
Josef Janíček
Jiří Kabeš
Ivan Martin Jirous
Current occupation
Josef "Pepa" Janíček
Vratislav Brabenec
Viola , vocals
Jiří Kabeš
Guitar , vocals
Joe Karafiát (since 1997)
Drums , vocals
Ludvík Kandl (since 1999)
Electric bass , vocals
Eva Turnová (since 2001)
former members
Ivan Bierhanzl (1978–1979, 2001–2010)

The Plastic People of the Universe ( PPU ) is a Czech underground band. The band makes psychedelic music and was one of the protagonists of the Czechoslovak underground in the 1960s and 1970s. Her arrest in 1976 sparked Charter 77 .

Band history

The Plastic People of the Universe was founded by writer Ivan Martin Jirous in September 1968, one month after the crackdown on the Prague Spring . Other founding members were Vratislav Brabenec, Milan Hlavsa, Josef Janíček, Jiří Kabeš. The band's name comes from a track on Frank Zappa's record Absolutely Free , Plastic People . The music of the Plastic People of the Universe was influenced by Zappa, but also by The Fugs , Velvet Underground , the Doors and Captain Beefheart . The band consistently refused to comply with government regulations and reflected a counter-cultural view in their texts and attitudes . However, she did not see herself as simply political and did not make any explicit political statements in her songs.

As a result of the normalization enforced by the Soviet Union , the members of the Plastic People were withdrawn from their license as professional musicians in 1970: they were not allowed to earn money with concerts, lost their state-owned instruments and access to rehearsal rooms. On borrowed instruments and on self-made amplifiers, however, they continued and gave private concerts in remote locations that were only announced via word of mouth. An underground movement emerged, a circle in which other bands, singers, poets and artists gathered around the Plastic People . Again and again there were clashes and fights between the supporters of this movement and the state institutions, and many arrests were made.

The banning of the group in 1976, the sham trials with charges under Section 202 (incitement of "public nuisance"), in which they were defended by Otakar Motejl , and the imprisonment of some members - Jirous for eighteen months, Pavel Zajíček from sister band DG307 for twelve Months, Brabenec for eight months - were important reasons for the creation of Charter 77 . The arrest was followed by a campaign in the state media, in which both the plastic people in particular and the underground in general were portrayed as anti-social, work-shy and drug addicts. After the arrest, only five concerts took place, all of them privately - two of them in Václav Havel's country house  - which were compared to partisan actions because of their necessarily secret preparation .

In 1997 the band played a few concerts again on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Charter 77. Milan Hlavsa, supported by Lou Reed , played in the White House in 1998 on the occasion of Václav Havel's state visit to Bill Clinton . Hlavsa, the founder, bassist and songwriter of Plastic People , died of cancer in 2001 in Prague.

The band was one of the first professional bands in the former Eastern Bloc to play pieces by progressive western rock musicians and composers such as Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa . Lou Reed paid them the compliment that they play Velvet Underground songs better than Velvet Underground itself.

On the occasion of the celebration of Václav Havel's 70th birthday in the Haus der Berliner Festspiele, the band performed in Berlin on October 7, 2006. In the same year Tom Stoppard's piece Rock'n'Roll premiered in London, in which the Czech group played an important role.

Ivan Bierhanzl left the band on February 12, 2010.


Web links

Commons : The Plastic People of the Universe  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Page no longer available , search in web archives: press release (English)@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /