Czesław Niemen: Between Enigma and Political Pragmatism

Mazierska, Ewa Hanna orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-4385-8264 (2017) Czesław Niemen: Between Enigma and Political Pragmatism. In: Popular Music in Eastern Europe Breaking the Cold War Paradigm. Pop Music, Culture and Identity . Palgrave Macmillan, London, pp. 243-264. ISBN 978-1-137-59272-9

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Czesław Niemen (1939-2004) is regarded as the greatest Polish pop star. He was the first from his country to achieve the status of superstar and from his beginnings in the early 1960s to his death was continuously present in Polish cultural life and never lost his privileged position, even though in the later part of his career his fame was based mainly on his earlier successes. The purpose of this chapter is to shed light on some reasons why Niemen achieved such success, but also why he failed to become a global star. I will do this by first presenting the artist’s biography against the background of Polish political and cultural history and then focus on three aspects: his attitude to politics, his turning to progressive rock in the second part of his career, and his attempts to achieve international fame.

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