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 Yegor Letov

Born:   10 September 1964
Deceased:   19 February 2008

creator and singer of the Russian punk band Grazhdanskaya Oborona


It was a unique role that Yegor Letov played in Russian poetry and music. His most famous project, the punk-rock band Grazhdanskaya Oborona (Civil Defense) was created to express utterly radical civil standpoints, relentlessly expose all the rot and filth of this world and defend the young minds not inflicted with it yet. Thus, for several generations of radical Russian youth the gloomy bands acronym GrOb (meaning coffin) has been the symbol of uncompromising protest and nonconformity.

Igor Fyodorovich Letov, more widely known under his stage pseudonym Yegor (Egor) Letov, was born in Omsk on September 10, 1964. From an early age Yegor, thanks to his elder brother, the famous jazz musician Sergei Letov was introduced to and influenced by the best specimen of modern foreign music. He started writing songs at the age of sixteen. In 1982 he gathered his first band named Posev (Sowing) that recorded six full-fledged albums.

In 1984 Yegor Letov founded Grazhdanskaya Oborona, destined to become the most desperate, expressive and influential of Russian punk bands.

Most of the albums were recorded by Yegor alone in his home studio, with him on guitar, vocal, bass and drums at once. His expressly dirty sound, his voice ripping out of his belly, his talented rude lyrics and smashing tunes fused into a single frantic drive.

By the late 1980s the rebellious and distinctly non-commercial music of Grazhdanskaya Oborona spawned a great number of fans, followers and imitators all over Russia. Russian rock stage had seen nothing of the kind before. At the same time the bands popular hits, such as Vse idet po planu (Everything is Going According to Plan), Moya oborona (My Defense), Suitsid (Suicide), and Sistema (System) organically rooted themselves into the street folklore.

Only our grandfather Lenin was a good leader.
All the other ones are such shit.
All the others are enemies and such fucking assholes.
Over the homeland, the land of our fathers, an insane snow was falling.
I bought a "Korea" magazine--they have it good too.
They have Comrade Kim Il-sung, they have the same as we do.
I am sure that they have the same thing and everything is going according to plan.

And everything is going according to plan.
Everything is going according to plan.
(Read the song lyrics full)

In terms of music Grazhdanskaya Oborona was guided by garage rock, psychedelic of the 60s and post-punk of the 80s, rather than by the punk genre classics like Sex Pistols and Exploited.

Apart from personal creative career Yegor Letov took an active part in projects akin in spirit to him; he encouraged, produced, and sound recorded them, say nothing of playing in them. The activity of almost all Siberian punk musicians, such as Yanka Diagileva, Roman Neumoyev, Cherny Lukich, Konstantin Ryabinov, Oleg Manager Sudakov, and Nick Rock-n-Roll was to this or that extent associated with the name of Yegor Letov.

In the early 1990s Yegor Letov recorded Pryg-skok (Hop-hop) (1990) and Sto let odinochestva (One Hundred Years of Solitude)(1992) that came to be among his most popular and beloved albums.

In 1994 the musician found himself as one of the leaders of the nationalist and communist rock movement Russkiy Proryv (Russian Breakthrough), at the same time touring with concerts on a large scale. In 1994-98 Yegor Letov supported the National Bolshevik Party.

In February 2004, however, the musician officially dissociated himself from any, much less nationalist, political movements.

During that period the interest in Yegor Letovs creations had been fading until the release of two albums in 20042005: Dolgaya Schastlivaya Zhizn (Long Happy Life) and Reanimatsia (Reanimation) that embraced all the songs created after the albums Sontsevorot (The Solstice) and Nevynosimaya Lyogkost Bytiya (The Unbearable Lightness of Being) released in the mid 1990s. May 2007 saw the release of his last album Zachem Snyatsa Sny (What Dreams Are Seen For).

Yegor Letov died of heart failure during sleep at his home in Omsk, aged 43, on February 19, 2008. He was laid to rest on February 21, 2008 at the Staro-Vostochnoe Cemetery of the city of Omsk.



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