The Plastic People of the Universe, an underground rock band persecuted by
the secret police in the 1970s, will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a
concert at Prague’s Akropolis Palace on December 1.
Unable to perform openly, the band was forced underground and became a focal and rallying point for dissidents, most famously Václav Havel.
It was partly in protest over the Plastics’ prosecution that then playwright Havel and others formed the Charter 77 human rights initiative.
Some musicians have cancelled appearances at the Trutnoff music festival in Trutnov, east Bohemia over the fact organisers have invited one-time Communist Party general secretary Miloš Jakeš to attend. The Plastic People of the Universe, members of which were imprisoned under the Communists, and Už jsme doma said they were pulling out of the August festival in protest, Lidovky.cz reported. Trutnoff organiser Martin Věchet, a former dissident, said he would cancel Mr. Jakeš’s invitation if negative reactions predominated. The festival, which was regularly attended by Václav Havel, is closely linked to the former underground.
A charity concert in honour of Czechoslovakia’s first post-communist president, Václav Havel, is being held on Monday night at Prague’s Lucerna Palace. The former dissident and playwright, who died in 2011, was elected president for the first time on this day 25 years ago. Bands performing on Monday include Cuban punk anti-communists Porno para Ricardo, whose frontman was repeatedly jailed by the Castro regime. Russian folk band Arkadiy Kots, supporters of Pussy Riot when its members were jailed, will also take to the stage as well as the Plastic People of the Universe and others.
From the Hussite wars of the Middle Ages to the Velvet Revolution of 1989, many pivotal events in Czech history occurred against a musical backdrop, at least in the nation’s collective memory. An exhibition at the National Memorial on Prague’s Vítkov Hill explores the links between music and politics, and shows what roles music assumed in modern Czech history.
Communist Party deputy chairman Jiří Dolejš is perhaps not somebody one would expect to be a fan of The Plastic People of the Universe, an underground rock band persecuted in the 1970s and ‘80s by the Communist regime. Some of his followers are angry after Mr. Dolejš posted their photo on his Facebook page and have slammed the group in language reminiscent of pre-1989 propaganda.
Communist Party deputy chairman Jiří Dolejš has come in for criticism from some supporters for posting a photo of the band The Plastic People of the Universe on his Facebook page, the news website iDnes.cz reported. Members of the then underground group were imprisoned under the communist regime and they had strong links to the dissident movement. The MP shared a picture of the Plastic People on the social networking site, adding the word “legend”. Beneath this followers wrote comments such as “Why are you a Communist MP? Your legend was against socialism” and “junkies with unmelodic lyrics”.
Last week the Václav Havel Library hosted the second of a series of interviews with people who knew and worked with Havel. This month’s guest was the Canadian Paul Wilson, who has translated much of Havel’s work and lived in Prague from 1967 to 1977. He witnessed the Soviet-led invasion, and in the years that followed he became part of the Czech underground music scene, until he was ultimately expelled from the country. Few people in the English-speaking world can claim to be as steeped in the life and culture of Czechoslovakia in the last two decades
The Plastic People of the Universe performed a concert in Prague on Friday night in honour of late member Milan “Mejla” Hlavsa, a singer, bassist and group co-founder who would have turned 63 recently. The one-time underground band, some of whose members were imprisoned during the Communist era, play tribute shows to Hlavsa at this time every year. He died in 2001 at the age of 50.
US musician Lou Reed, who died in October, is set to be remembered at a special tribute concert at Prague’s Archa Theatre on Wednesday featuring local acts such as the Plastic People of the Universe. Entitled “From the Velvet Underground to the Velvet Revolution”, the event also marks the second anniversary of the death of Czech president Václav Havel, who was a friend of Reed’s.