“It used to be called boogie-woogie, it used to be called blues, used to be called rhythm and blues. . . It’s called rock now”

Chuck Berry

1961 was a fruitful year. “Moral code of the builder of communism” was adopted during the XXII CPSU Congress in Moscow, Vostok 1 was launched from Baikonur and took Yuri Gagarin to the outer space, the Beatles started their climb towards fame in Liverpool and Chuck Berry was taken to prison for “transporting a minor across state lines for immoral purposes”. So I arrived at the right time.

I was born on October, 16 in the Sokolniki Maternity House in Moscow to the family of an engineer and an English teacher. The first musical thing I remember (I was 3 or 4 back then) is a record playing system that played vinyl records during feeding times. If the record stopped, I screamed “It spins no more! It spins no more!” after which the record was instantly replaced and I continued to eat. I only ate that way till I was 5. And that’s how I got introduced to the world of music.

Unlike today in the ancient 60’s people didn’t get dead drunk after the first thirty minutes of a birthday party. People celebrated and socialized and somebody was sure to play the piano we had. Friends and relatives who joined us for festivities sang songs and had fun. Every now and then we would have a night out to a café or a restaurant, 

where a live music band (two guitars, the organ and the drums) would play. My favourite part of such get-togethers were these bands. Even though one of the musicians would still get dead drunk by the end of the party, I was fascinated by them.

In 1966 we moved to Kuzminki, where we got a new flat and after some time I started the secondary school No. 623. It was by far one of the worst days of my life, as one of my classmates craftily ate the porridge I had placed on the window sill to cool down. After that he became my best friend and a member of our school band. I wasn’t exactly a star at school, since I only liked a few subjects: history, literature and music (they even taught that, can you imagine) We, the children of the USSR in the 60’s, had a limited range of hobbies: bicycles, bikes, hand-made air rifles and melting lead behind the garages.

Naturally, by the 7th grade I had got bored of all that. I decided to try and change my priorities. My father was a radio enthusiast, so we had a Vega record player and NOTA-M reel tape recorder, and he made the speakers and the amplifier himself. All this produced a pretty decent sound, and our collection of reels and records was being renewed and updated all the time. It contained everything from Bach’s classical organ music to pop-music of that time, i.e. “Pesnyary”, “Ariel” and even “Beatles”. As our collection grew bigger I rummaged through it and discovered things I really liked.

And I was also greatly influenced by my two aunts. One, who was on my father’s side, was not bad at piano, and I always asked her to play something when she visited us and joined her later. The other, on my mother’s side, gave me a seven-stringed Shihovo guitar, that witnessed my first attempts to play. A guitar made you the best guy on the block, so I decided to master those three magical chords. Truth be told, many years later Hilton Valentine, the guitarist of “Animals”, got really offended at me when I told him about those three magical chords in “House of Rising Sun”. “There were five!” – he said.

At some point I realized being self-taught wasn’t good enough for me, so I entered a music school and began to study the six-stringed guitar. I was no longer tempted by the street, and the musical education proved to be very useful afterwards. A year later I could easily play classic pieces as well as many others. When I was at the 8th grade, I changed schools and met a guy who was considered by the staff “not entirely mentally healthy”. He was withdrawn and self-contained, and he had a lot of strange English names scribbled on his paper folder. 

One day he invited me to come over as there was something he wanted me to listen to. It was a concert record of “Made in Japan” by “Deep Purple”. The record was very poor in quality but abundant in energy and atmosphere, the crowd was louder than the band. It was a whole new world for me, it was nothing like I had ever heard on the radio or TV. It left a mark on me. In a couple of months I listened to everything I could get from friends or other people I knew. I decided to become as good as Ritchie Blackmore and create my own band. The NOTA-M reel recorder allowed me to slow down guitar solos and practice them. 

The first band I played in was started in a summer camp by my peers. There were two girls playing the organ and the bass, and since they weren’t really interested in it, the band seized to exist after a couple of rehearsals. I talked my way into another band, a group of students from music colleges that performed at discos in our camp. I became their bass guitarist, as they already had a lead one, and they taught me everything an aspiring musician needed to know.

Some of that was what my parents had warned me against, since words like “drunkard”, “rowdy” and so on were synonyms to the word “musician” at that time. It was also considered that musicians had no financial (or any other) stability, and as a result, could have no good family in the future. Naturally, my parents were worried and suspicious of my new hobby. Nevertheless I convinced them to buy my first electric guitar. And this was a moment I will remember for my whole life. It was a late winter evening. My father and I went to a “german” shop called “Leipzig” at the far end of Leninskiy Avenue. It was impossible to get any good one, of course, so we took what they had – a GDR semi-acoustic electric guitar Musima. It cost 200 rubles, which made the whole of my father’s monthly salary. I am grateful to him for it to this day.

During the graduation years my two school friends and I organized a school band, and we only got one chance to perform. It was the prom night, and we asked to play a few songs alongside the band performing that night. Among the songs was “Solnechniy ostrov” by “Mashina Vremeni”. I still don’t quite understand what one of the musicians meant when he said: “Isn’t it too complicated for you, son?”

In 1979 I entered Moscow State University of Railway Engineering (MIIT). 

At that time it was a place where during long breaks you could see the best spivs of Moscow. Apart from different bits and ends one could buy or trade any record he or she fancied. My tastes in music changed dramatically. I devoured tons of different music and picked out “Madness”, “Stray Cats” and “Police” – the bands I still adore. They influenced greatly the sound and image of the future “Bravo”. Sometimes I listened to up to 15 records a night, because I was to return them in the morning. For a short time of my university life I managed to play with different bands. The first group I joined as a guitarist was “Redkaya Ptitsa”. It was organized by Aleksei Aedonitskiy, the son of a composer famous in the USSR. My fellow-student Sergey Galanin played the bass in this band. I didn’t really like the music we played, but I enjoyed being part of the group. Somewhere in the Internet you can still find a record we made back then. Once, after I refused to buy a “trendy” instrument (I played a customized electric guitar) I was kindly asked to leave the band. I bought my second, “trendy” Japanese electric guitar Aria Pro-2 CS 250, only after “Bravo” was born. It ate all the money my wife and I were given for our wedding in an exchange for my solemn vow to finish University. A few months later I was expelled from University for playing that very guitar at “wrong” concerts.

A friend of mine tried to comfort me and said there was a band called “Postscriptum” in Beskudnikovo, and they were looking for a guitarist. I borrowed a few of their records. The music they played turned out to be old-school hard-rock, and it was really good. I especially liked the drummer Pavel Kuzin. Years later I learnt I was only allowed to join because of the “cool amplifier and stuff” I brought to the auditions. The lead singer of the band was Garik Sukachev. We played his songs and some of “Smokie”, “Creedence Clearwater Revival” and what not. We performed at proms and at different events held at “MosEnergoTechProm”, our headquarters at that time. In 1982 the new wave and punk-rock made a clear statement and at some point I realized everything we were trying to do was absurd. I brought another bass player to the band and together we tried to change the sound of the whole group... to no avail. Garik left soon after that. The group was in need of a frontman and I rushed to find him. As it turned out, it was a she, not a he. I knew an art-group called “Muhomory”, who I contacted a lot regarding lyrics for my musical pieces, said they had a wonderful singing girl, who needed a group. It was them who gave me the number of Ivonne Anders (who turned out to be Zhanna Aguzarova) This chance meeting changed the rest of my life.

In a few weeks I composed music for our first album, and these songs became the golden classics of the 80’s and launched “Bravo” to the Moscow underground stage. My father came to one of our first concerts, got pleasantly surprised by what he saw and shook my hand. After that happened everything that was supposed to happen to a real band – the lead singers and other members came and left, some albums were successful, others were not

Now all this doesn’t matter for me anymore. 


What matters is that our band continues to perform and make records. Here’s a fun fact for you – most of our fans weren’t even born at the time our band first played in the winter of 1983. That undoubtedly inspires some hope.

Our album “Fashion”, released in 2011, became album of the year according to Nashe Radio and won some very good reviews. During the last few years some of my vectors have shifted, and now I’m looking forward to collaborating with musicians from other genres as well. For example, punk-group “Tarakany” and surf-team “Tom and the Phantoms”. I’m also recording a solo album, a sneak peak at which you can get on this website. And, of course, I’m still in search of a band that will hook me up: I will be eager to help them in recording and producing their first album. And I hope they will blow up the musical stage of today the way we did many years ago!


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