Czesław Niemen

Czesław Niemen

Czesław Niemen (Celebrity Alley, Kielce)
Background information
Birth name Czesław Juliusz Wydrzycki
Born February 16, 1939(1939-02-16)
Origin Stare Wasiliszki in Grodno county, Poland (now Belarus)
Died January 17, 2004(2004-01-17) (aged 64)
Genres Rock & roll, psychedelic rock, progressive rock, folk music, avant-garde jazz, electronic music
Occupations Singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, poet
Instruments Multi-instrumentalist (mostly electronic instruments and keyboards)
Years active 1967–2001
Associated acts Niebiesko-Czarni, Andrzej Kurylewicz
Website Niemen at F

Czesław Niemen (Polish pronunciation: [ˈt͡ʂɛswaf ˈɲɛ̃mɛ̃n/]; February 16, 1939 – January 17, 2004) real name Czesław Juliusz Wydrzycki, was one of the most important and original Polish singer-songwriters and rock balladeers of the last quarter-century,[1] singing mainly in Polish.

Niemen was born in Stare Wasiliszki, Białystok Voivodeship, interwar Poland (now in Grodno Province, Belarus). After World War II it became a part of Byelorussian SSR and in the 1950s he was allowed to move to Poland. He made his debut in the early 1960s, singing Polish rock and soul music. He possessed an unusually wide voice range and equally rich intonation. He was also an ardent composer and a keyboard player. Soon after his first successful concerts in France, he started to use the pseudonym Niemen instead of his real name, gaining wider notoriety in Poland and making it easier to pronounce by foreigners (Niemen is a Polish pronunciation of the Neman River and this way he wanted to mark his birth country). His song of 1967, "Dziwny jest ten świat" (Strange Is This World) is commonly acknowledged to be the most important Polish protest song of that era (in 1972 an English version was also recorded). He was one of the first Polish performers to wear long hair and colourful clothes and introducing the style of psychedelia to communist Poland, which annoyed the officials. The first three LP album's Niemen recorded with his band "Akwarele" (Watercolours). Subsequently, he recorded with his other new bands: "Enigmatic", "Grupa Niemen" and "Aerolit". In 1969 he changed musical style to progressive rock while recording the monumental album Enigmatic. The most notable song from it was "Bema pamięci żałobny rapsod" (A Mournful Rhapsody in Memory of Józef Bem), based on the 19th century poem by Cyprian Kamil Norwid. The rest of Enigmatic songs were also in sung poetry form. Niemen played Hammond organ, later mellotron and Moog synthesizer on his records.

In the early 1970s, Niemen recorded three English language albums under the CBS label. In 1974 he recorded Mourner's Rhapsody with Jan Hammer and Rick Laird from Mahavishnu Orchestra. In the seventies, Niemen turned to jazz-rock fusion and electronic music (Katharsis album). In 1972 he also contributed with a song performed by him in "Wesele" (The Wedding (1972 film)) by director Andrzej Wajda, laureate of an honorary Oscar. Later, Niemen also composed film soundtracks and theater music. In the 1990s he showed interest in art painting and computer graphics. He died of cancer in Warsaw.

He won the Sopot International Song Festival in 1979.

In 1964 at Congress Hall, Warsaw, Niemen together with his group played as a support act to Marlene Dietrich in concert. She heard his song "Czy mnie jeszcze pamiętasz" ("Do you still remember me?") there. She enjoyed it so much and soon recorded her own version of it "Mutter, Hast du Mir Vergeben" ("Mother, have you forgiven me?") writing her own lyrics for the song.[2]


Niemen's support bands

Niemen cooperated with the following bands; some of them were support musisians, while others were independent bands: "Akwarele" ("Watercolours"), "I Niemen" ("And Niemen") (1969-1970), also under the name "Niemen Enigmatic"), "Grupa Niemen" (made of the members of Silesian Blues Band), Niebiesko-Czarni, "Aerolit", female vocal band Alibabki.


Aerolit accompanied Czesław Niemen in 1974–1978. Initially it was formed from young musicians of the rock band Krzak: Jacek Gazda, Jan Błędowski, Maciej Radziejewski, Piotr Dziemski.[3] The word means "aerolite" in Polish.


  • 1974: Niemen Aerolit
  • 1978: Idée Fixe
  • 2007: 41 Potencjometrów Pana Jana – a live record of a 1974 concert from tapes found in archives of Polish Radio.The record was "cut and mixed" with scotch tape and scissors by Czeslaw Niemen himself and Janusz Kosinski.[4]


Studio albums

  • 1967 Dziwny jest ten świat ("Strange Is This World")
  • 1968 Sukces ("Success")
  • 1969 Czy mnie jeszcze pamiętasz? ("Do You Still Remember Me?")
  • 1970 Enigmatic
  • 1971 Człowiek jam niewdzięczny – aka "Czerwony Album" ("Ungrateful Human I Am" aka "Red Album")
  • 1972 Strange Is This World (English lyrics, released in West Germany)
  • 1973 Ode to Venus (English lyrics, released in West Germany)
  • 1973 Niemen Vol. 1 and Niemen Vol. 2 – aka "Marionetki" ("Puppets")
  • 1973 Russische Lieder ("Russian Songs", Russian lyrics, released in West Germany)
  • 1974 Mourner's Rhapsody (English lyrics, released in West Germany, UK and US)
  • 1975 Niemen Aerolit
  • 1976 Katharsis
  • 1978 Idée Fixe
  • 1980 Postscriptum
  • 1982 Przeprowadzka ("Moving")
  • 1989 Terra Deflorata
  • 1991 Terra Deflorata (extended version)
  • 1993 Mouner's Rhapsody (extended version) (US)
  • 2001 spodchmurykapelusza ("fromunderthecloudofahat")

Live albums

  • 2007 41 Potencjometrów Pana Jana ("41 Mr. John's Potentiometers")
  • 2009 Kattorna/Pamflet na ludzkość ("Kattorna/Lampoon for Mankind")


  • 1979 The Best of Niemen
  • 1989 Złote przeboje Czesława Niemena ("Golden hits of Czesław Niemen")
  • 1991 Gwiazdy mocnego uderzenia: Czesław Niemen (first singles)
  • 1995 Sen o Warszawie ("Dream of Warsaw")
  • 2000 Czas jak rzeka: Złota kolekcja ("Time Like River: Golden Collection")
  • 2008 Spiżowy krzyk ("Brass scream")

Box Sets

Singles and EPs

  • 1962 – Adieu Tristesse / El Soldado De Levita
  • 1963 – Na swojską nutę (1) (with Niebiesko-Czarni)
  • 1963 – Na swojską nutę (2) (with Niebiesko-Czarni)
  • 1963 – W rytmie Madisona (with Niebiesko-Czarni)
  • 1964 – Les Noir et Blue – Les Idoles de Pologne (with Niebiesko-Czarni)
  • 1964 – Locomotion (EP) (with Niebiesko-Czarni)
  • 1964 – Czas jak rzeka (EP) (with Niebiesko-Czarni)
  • 1964 – Hippy, Hippy Shake (EP) (with Niebiesko-Czarni)
  • 1964 – Jeszcze sen (EP) (with Niebiesko-Czarni)
  • 1966 – A Varsovie (EP)
  • 1966 – Sen o Warszawie (EP)
  • 1967 – Dziwny jest ten świat (EP)
  • 1968 – Obok nas / Baw się w ciuciubabkę
  • 1969 – Io senza lei / Arcobaleno
  • 1969 – Strange is This World (demo)
  • 1969 – Una luce mai accesa / 24 ore spese bene con amore
  • 1969 – Re di cuori
  • 1970 – Oggi forse no / Domani
  • 1971 – Strange is This World (demo 2)
  • 1972 – Romanca Cherubina / Mazurek
  • 1972 – Strange is This World / We've Got The Sun
  • 1975 – Mleczna droga / Dorożką na Księżyc
  • 1979 – Nim przyjdzie wiosna / Pokój
  • 1982 – Witaj przygodo zielona / Przeprowadzka
  • 1986 – High Horse / Pod papugami
  • 2002 – Jagody szaleju


External links

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