Born on July 14, 1939 in Pilsen.
Karel Gott has been an important personality on the Czech music scene since 1963. The beginnings of his performance date back to 1958 - 1960, when he participated in amateur contests. However, in an era of baritones, the brilliant young tenor had little chance of success. Lack of interest from the panels of judges was compensated by the interest of the public, which subsequently convinced artistic colleagues to begin co-operation. In 1958 Karel Gott obtained his first engagement at the Vltava cafe.





At this time, he decided to dedicate his entire life to music, and began studying opera singing at the Conservatory, under the direction of Professor Konstantin Karenin (a pupil of the famous Russian singer Fjodor Šaljapin). However, he used all of the features of his exceptional opera voice to sing primarily jazz and popular songs. During these years, he also experienced his first trip abroad with the Jazz Orchestra of the Czechoslovak Broadcast, conducted by Karel Krautgartner (Poland). In 1962 Karel Gott’s first single, a duet with the leading jazz singer Vlasta Prùchová called “When We are Twice as Old” was released with the Supraphon record label. In 1963 he left the Conservatory and continued with private studies until 1966. For the first time, he was voted into the Golden Nightingale (Zlatý slavík) viewer’s survey, and placed 49th (he obtained only 3 votes in 1962). He entered an engagement with the Semafor theatre and the Supraphon label released his first solo single with a recording of the Czech version of Mancini’s “Moon River”. The year 1963 was a turning point in Karel Gott’s career, for it brought along the first hit from his own repertoire “Eyes Covered by Snow”, and also his first victory in the Golden Nightingale survey (announced in 1964). In 1965 the Supraphon label released the first LP called “Karel Gott Sings”, which was soon followed by an English export album called “The Golden Voice of Prague” (Artia-Supraphon). In 1966 he gained first place in the Bratislava Lyre international festival and met for the first time with representatives of Deutsche Grammophongesellschaft. One year later, Karel Gott’s first single appeared in stores with the songs “Weißt du wohin” and “Bist du das Glück?”. This was followed by an LP with the West German Polydor label called “The Golden Voice of Prague” (Die goldene Stimme aus Prag). Sales of this album reached almost 450,000 copies and Karel Gott was nicknamed “the Golden Voice of Prague” in German-speaking countries. International interest was reflected in a seven-month engagement at the Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada (1967). The superb start to Karel Gott’s career in the Sixties was rounded off by the release of his excellent album “Christmas in Golden Prague”, which, to this day, experts consider one of the best Christmas albums ever.
In the Seventies, domestic success was reflected in the filming of a ten-part serial called “Karel Gott in Slané”. He fulfilled his desire to act in a film by participating in the musical story “The Star Falls Up”, based on the novel Strakonický dudák. He ensured his international success by singing the title song for the story “Mája the Little Bee” (composed by Karel Svoboda) and obtained 5 Polydor Gold Records for sales of albums with this song. On May 3, 1977 he acquired the title of Merited Artist, and on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of successful co-operation, received a Gold Record from Polydor. Karel Gott’s Christmas concerts in Prague’s Lucerna hall became a tradition, and were later held at the Sports Hall in Prague because of immense interest. In 1978, he prepared a ninety-minute TV show for the ZDF television station called “The Golden Voice of Prague”. In the same year, he acquired the Carnival Hat from the City of Cologne, which is awarded every year to one personality from the cultural and social sphere. The singer, who started in the mainstream, turned into an all-round exponent who, aside from pop music, also created country, traditional compositions and classical music. This flexibility was evident in the first appearance of Karel Gott at the Fan Fair Country Festival in Nashville (1979). Throughout the following years, he was invited back to this festival several times.
The Eighties allowed the exponent to continue on his route to international success. In 1981 in sunny Italy, the musical “In the track of Bel Canto” was filmed. Based on the soundtrack to the film, the Polydor concern released an Italian-German album called “Bella Italia”. Karel Gott was also presented with a Gold Record from Supraphon for 1,000,000 albums exported abroad. In 1983 in Munich he obtained the Gold Medal of Hermann Lönse for development of the German traditional song. He acquired the historically first Television Jingle Bell, a viewers’ award, in 1984. In the same year, he won the Honour Survey awarded to the most popular exponent of the Belgian radio and television company BRF. On February 24, 1985 he placed his twentieth Golden Nightingale into his golden nightingale cage. On April 30 of the same year, he acquired the title of National Artist for his exceptional artistic activities. In 1986 he was awarded a Platinum Record by Supraphon, as the most sold exponent ever, and at the same time a Golden Needle by Polydor for 20 years of co-operation with the company (before Karel Gott, this award was awarded only to Leonard Bernstein and Herbert von Karajan).
The Nineties were influenced by fundamental changes in the political system of the country, which were reflected even in popular music. Karel Gott stood, together with other exponents, at the starting line again. However, even this change did not threaten his permanent position in the limelight of the domestic music scene. In 1991 a new television survey was created called TýTý. Karel Gott gained the first victory and at the same time became the outright winner of the survey. In March, he was the first to enter the Hall of Fame of the Popular Music Academy and also acquired his historically last, twenty-second Golden Nightingale. On September 8, 1992 he was awarded a Diamond Record for the sale of 13 million copies of his music in the former Czechoslovakia. In 1993 the obtained the Diskoslavíka (Disconightingale) ‘92 award - the title of the Personality of All Time. The “Christmas Miracle” (Zázrak vánoèní) album released in 1995 acquired two Platinum Records a year later for the sale of 100,000 copies. In 1997 the Nightingales tradition was revived. The viewers’ contest was reborn with the name Czech Nightingale and Karel Gott again received the first nightingale. At the same time, he became the outright winner of this listeners’ contest. In the same year, the album Duets, recorded with Lucie Bílá, received two Platinum Records. Moreover, Karel Gott celebrated forty years of professional activity. He was awarded his fourth Czech Nightingale, thereby expanding his bird collection to a total of twenty-six golden nightingales. He entered the new millennium with a concert performance at the shrine of music - Carnegie Hall in New York.
In 1992, the first independent exhibition of Karel Gott’s pictures took place in the Prague Christ Child Gallery. Its success in the artistic arena was confirmed by further exhibitions in Berlin, Cologne, Vienna, Moscow, Bratislava, Prague and Munich.
Throughout his forty-year career, Karel Gott performed at innumerable concerts in all the countries of Europe (with the exception of Albania and Scandinavia), the USA, Canada, China, Australia and Japan. He appeared in hundreds of television shows at home and abroad (the Gilbert Bécaud Show, Nashville - Country Music Festival, Europarty, the Rudi Carell Show, Ein Kessel Buntes, the James Last Show), released hundreds of regular albums and more than one hundred compilation albums (his total record sales are estimated at 27 million copies) both at home and abroad (he co-operates with record labels in England, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Holland, Italy, Japan, Poland, Austria, the former Soviet Union, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Stated of America), and acquired a number of awards (aside from the mentioned 22 Golden Nightingales and 4 Czech Nightingales, he also acquired 5 Golden Jingle Bells and 10 Týtý awards as the most popular singer, 5 Týtý awards as the personality of the year, a Polydor Golden Needle, 2 Golden Keys at the Intervize Festival, a Golden and Bronze Lyre in Bratislava, a Golden and Bronze Lion from Radio Luxembourg, 2 Golden Tuners at the Tag des deutschen Schlagers Festival, a Golden Harp in Stuttgart, 4 Trophées nationales at the MIDEM festival in Cannes, a Cherry Blossom award at the festival in Tokyo, a Golden Needle from Pragokoncert, and a number of Gold Records and Platinum Records as the most sold exponent from the Supraphon, Polydor and PolyGram record labels).
In European countries and around the world, Karel Gott is an enduring phenomenon, and even today fully deserves to be recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records …

Last Updated 02.08.2001
Created and All Rights Reserved © Zuzana Drotárová, 2001