Fan Questions

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What kind of music do you listen to?

I listen to music depending on my mood. If I’m sad, I listen to blues, if I feel good, it’s usually some kind of Caribbean music, for example reggae. If I drive my car for a longer way, I choose classical music, because it makes me feel calm. But most of all, no matter what moon I’m in, I listen to soul ballads.

Do you like to recall your beginings?

It was not only good memories, so that’s why I remember them with care. With other words, I try to remember only the nice moments. Among such experiences even the fact belongs, that I came to the scene in a time when pop music was young. Something new rose, was being created and people wanted to listen to it. The longed for pop songs, they drove to see our shows from far, they wanted to be there. In the branch, the atmosphere was very friendly and collegiate and the competition was of a healthy kind, no hate. We provoked each other who is better and this motivated everyone.

I remember this gladly. But there is one thing I do not recall so gladly, though it actually did not affect me from the beginning. The chief editor of the musical editions of the TV Jiří Malásek told me many years later, how many threatening letters, except for the positive ones, arrived as reaction to my first TV performances. Today I take it with humour and view from a top, but who knows what would happen then if I read all of those letters. But at the same time I have to say, maybe it was just good as it was. The worst thing is not to leave any efftect, either positive or negative and not to matter to anyone. It means that you are completely uninteresting for everyone.

What is your credo for your life?

To live.

Do you have a dog? What kind of relationship do you have to animals?

My relation to animals is quite positive, as well as to most of the peope. But not to all of them. I used to have a dog, but because dog is a family member and you need to be in contact with it, I don’t have it anymore. A dog requests to have known persons and those he loves around. I’m alone and away from home all the time. But we I bet retired, I’ll certainly get a dog.

Did you get remark in the ground school or were you an exemplary pupil?

I was definitelly not an exemplary pupil, because those pupils had a hard life among the other schoolmates. It was not in to be exemplary. I also got remarks quite often, my parents got invited to the school in the same way. I always had bad grades, I did not pay attention and I refused to sing.. I disliked the songs a lot. Simply everything was wrong.

What kind of grades did you get in the ground school?

Commendable and good. And for me it was enough.

Do you read letters and cards which you receive?

I do read them. I always take time to do that, even if it was at 4.00 am.

Do you sometimes answer to some of them?

Often. But usually only then if the answer does not require to write long litanies. And in the same way I prefer to receive shorter letters. If I draw a 10-paged letter from the envelope, it discourages me already in advance.

What dream do you dream most often?

I stand in a portal, I’m ready for a performance and I say to myself: How come that I did not have any time at all to prepare myself? The orchestra is playing the overture, I enter the stage, reach the microphone but I still can’t recognize which song the orchestra is playing. I turn to the musicians, they shrug, I look into the audience, somebody’s crossing fingers, others shake they heads and can’t believe, people start to leave slowly and I can’t in my whole life remember what I should sing. Finally everybody in the audience leaves, my orchestra leaves me and then the hall custodian comes and tells me I should not forget to lock the door when I leave.

Don’t you sometimes get frightened by a dream of loosing your voice?

It does not even have to be a dream. I usually wake up several times in the night and always try if I still have a voice. First when I persuade myself that I still have it, I can sleep on. The subconciousness is always working. Several times in my life I experience that I lay down to sleep, got up in the morning and wanted to speak on the telephone and realised my voice disappeared completely. Since then I have been persuadeing myself that everything is OK.

How do you explain the fact that your songs from the 60-ies and 70-ies nowadays so often re-appear on the scene in new versions?

Both media and new listener generations discover that this music’s got something. Of course, it goes hand in hand with the nowadays crises of new production, with kind of exhausted melodic and lyric ideas. And even lyric writers, who were once full of ideas, often ask me nowadays: And what should it be about?

Does it occur that you sometimes forget the lyrics during a concert? If yes, how do you deal with that?

Of course it happens, we are only humans, not machines. Then I point to the sound engineer that my microphone is not working. Or I try to fill the hole with some other words which nobody understands, not me either. And then I try to hide it. So it’s the sound engineer’s fault or a fault of those you have not missed the words and who can’t understand it.

Are you a pedant?

For some things I am. Even if it’s not obvious at the first sight, I like order. Before I go to sleep, I arrange all of things on my desk and at the same time I arrange everything in my head. I ask myself: Was the day alright? Didn’t you make any mistakes? Did you behave? Wasn’t it a day when you were in the world just in vain? Didn’t you talk about stupid things too long? Did you help somebody?… It’s just a kind of a decalogue I repeat every night.

When you started to sing, did you think about that this could be a lifelong trip on a really long way?

No way! When I started, I told myself that I would like to sing until I reach 30. At the most. And even this seamed very far away to me! And now you see, I have passed the 30 years since long, even more than twice.

And what is the engine which provides your with the power to go further even nowadays?

Certainly it’s my passion for music. Despite of that, music is one of the kind of passions and loves which will never let you down, cheat you or betray you… Music is faithful in moments of joy, as well as in periods where you don’t feel so good and when you have nobody to turn to. Such an ideal lover for the whole life. Apropos, life. You just have to love your life. Those who do not love life, who just sit in the corner somewhere, they are hurt, envious, to both themselves and their surroundings. Fortunately I have a really happy nature, so I can’t experience something like that. I enjoy my life every day. From the first moment in the morning when I open my eyes.

What do you consider as the hardest thing in your profession?

A singer has to be always fit. 365 days in a year. And in leap year one day longer. It’s the same for top sportsmen. You have to provide a 100% performance every day. And this in your whole life. And for a tenor, it’s even worse, because if you don’t feel well, it’s immediatelly visible. If I sang for example blues, crackle, had a horsy voice, it could be even good, but as a tenor sings, everybody realises: Well, stop for a minute, do you hear that? He can’t sing anymore! And this has begun already in the ancient Rome, during gladiator games. It’s the same in the pop music nowadays, as it was during the fights then: Thumb up, thumb down. No compromises at all.

Do you still remember your first car?

I bought my first car in the time when I still did not own a driving licence. It was in 1964. We have performed with Semafor for three weeks in West Berlin, where I bought a used car of mark Opel. You are admirer of fast cars, but you usually prefer a bigger limousine to a small sport car… Every admirer of fast cars longs for a ride in a sport car. I tried this several times, but it has never survived for a long time. I felt a feeling of freedom and exceptionality, but that was it. Sport cars do not fit me either because of the fact that they have a small luggage space, where no suitcases fit it. And I can’t hang my suites behind the seat either. So that’s why I refrained from the joy of sport driving.

What kind of cars did you have most often?

Mercedes-Benz, but to be fair against other marks, I also had a Saab, Opel, Alfa Romeo, Honda, Audi, BMW, Porsche or Toyota.

What clothes did you dislike to wear as a little boy?

I remember that as a school pupil I often went to movies and I wanted to be a sort of adult. I wanted to be just like the classical film lover, elegant and different from the other pupils, just because of this elegance. We used to wear tracksuite and jeans – this word did not even exist when I went to school in the 50-ies. I wanted to wear a double-breasted suite, tie and greased hair. I remember that I also copied the typical speach of film stars and I glared the girls with it.

Do you follow fashion trends?

Of course, I have to. As well as in the music and technology.

Do you have your own fashion advisor?

No, I don’t. On contrary, the costumers at the TV always said: Mr. Gott, we don’t have to seek for anything for you to wear, you will certainly bring something nice again.

It seems like you have reached everything what a singer can dream of. Is there anything else which you would like to reach in your professional career?

I would not say that. And in addition to this, if you really long for something in a very demanding way, you usually do not succeed. Easily, if you push too much, it usually only leads to a damage. That´s why I am a fan of everyday, fiddling work. But once the results come to success, I´m always thrilled as a little kid.

And what about your stable favour of your faithful audience? How do you feel that?

Of course, without the favour of audience, nothing could be done. Actually everything I do, I do for my listeners and viewers. If I would not literally feel it physically – and I have been feeling this for 45 years – the positive reaction, I would not be able to do my work. Maybe as a pleasant life-time hobby, but only for myself.

When you started to sing, did you realize that it could actually be a lifetime run on a really long way?

No way! When I started, I told myself that I would like to sing until the age of 30. Maximum. And it seemed so far away at that time! And you see, I have passed the 30 very long time ago, actually more than twice, and I keep on singing.

And what is the engine which gives you the power to go further even nowadays?

Certainly it’s my passion for music. Despite of that, music is one of the kind of passions and loves which will never let you down, cheat you or betray you… Music is faithful in moments of joy, as well as in periods where you don’t feel so good and when you have nobody to turn to. Such an ideal lover for the whole life. Apropos, life. You just have to love your life. Those who do not love life, who just sit in the corner somewhere, they are hurt, envious, both to themselves and their surroundings. Fortunately I have a really happy nature, so I can’t experience something like that. I enjoy my life every day. From the first moment in the morning when I open my eyes.

What do you consider as the hardest thing in your profession?

A singer has to be always fit. 365 days in a year. And in leap year one day longer. It’s the same for top sportsmen. You have to provide a 100% performance every day. And this in your whole life. And for a tenor, it’s even worse, because if you don’t feel well, it’s immediatelly visible. If I sang for example blues, crackle, had a horsy voice, it could be even good, but as a tenor sings, everybody realises: Well, stop for a minute, do you hear that? He can’t sing anymore! And this has begun already in the ancient Rome, during gladiator games. It’s the same in the pop music nowadays, as it was during the fights then: Thumb up, thumb down. No compromises at all.

You remember problems and doubts. It’s hard to believe that a man who has got 24 Golden nightingales, 6 Czech nightingales, sold millions of records and got awards from jingle bells, to keys, needles, lyres, lions etc.., felt any doubt.

Hard to believe?

Yes, it’s hard to believe.

The czech songwriter Michal Horáček wrote me a song once called Posel dobrých zpráv /Good news messenger/. In this song, he literally expressed my role, my image. I am simply a messanger of good news. I can feel however, I can have normal common sorrow, but I never talk about it. In my life I’m trying to follow an old chinese poem, which says, if you complain, you will be alone, because nobody will like to be with you. And, on opposite, if you enjoy your life, you will have a lot of friends.

You have successfully avoided to answer, if you had any serious problems in your career…

Yes, I had some. That’s why I avoided to talk about them in my answer. I’m always trying to make fun, you know, I was never singing any protest songs. And if I, as a singer, romantic and good news messenger do not like someting, I say it in an interview, I don’t sing about it.

Do you still have something left from the enthousiasm you had when you started to sing in the Prague Café Vltava?

If I lost the kid in myself, I would never be able to do my work in my age. And I would never be to do it since long! I will stay the excited kit, until, god, I would feel embarrased.

Let’s have a look back to the almost 50 years, when you perform as a singer. What helped to the fact that you had success?

As very important, I consider the trust I got. It could be from musicians, who believed in my talent, or from professor Karenin, who was my teacher at the conservatory. If he only taught me to sing accademically, I would not be there where I am today. Maybe I would be a good tenor, but I would disappear in the crowd of other tenors. He was an extraordinary teacher.

Why was he extraordinary?

In the approach he used. He has not only explained which roll a romantic tenor has, that it is a role of a lover, who caresses women’s souls, who does not scream and sings tenderely, but he has also tolerated that except for the studies I sang in smoky cafés rock’n’roll. He even went to see me there and he put a guarantee for myself. He gave me trust, in the same way as Rudolf Rokl, Štaidl brothers, Karel Svoboda, Suchý and Šlitr and all others did, all of them created a personality of me, if not directly celebrity. After the Semafor-era, we grounded our own theatre Apollo, where I could sing what I wanted to. Should I complain about this time? I succeeded in remaining myself, not to disappear in the crowd. And in case of such a singer, who keeps his personality alive, the more imitators he has, the better it is.

Do you have principles, which you follow in your whole life?

I believe in the strengh of thoughts. Already as a worker in ČKD factory, I knew that once I would sing. I brought a record from Las Vegas to the guys and told them, that I would perform there once. And they thought I was mad and told me I was a fool! Have a look at the fool, they called, you will have a lot of fun. And in 10 years, I was really singing there. And I also believe in influence by bad thoughts. If I said that today, I would enter the stage, because it will be a disaster, and it would be the case. A thought can really influence you. So that’s why I don’t like people which can give you bad thoughts. I avoid them.

You have an audience, which follows you from your beginnings, but teenagers as well. Do you see them at your conserts?

Yes, and I do realize this age scale. For me, it’s a reward, because my dream came true, to approach to all generations. I did not want to be a singer who lives when the fashion changes. That’s why I really appreciate kids and young people in my audience. They are not refined, they express themself clearly and sincerely. And at the same time, it’s an obligation. For a singer, who wants to approach such a wide scale of audience, you have to see, that he loves them, and not that he wants to leave for a party after the concert.

Do you discuss your work with your wife?

Of course I do. I know that she is aware of the fact, that I’m a father and breadwinner. She is happy for me when I have success and when Charlotte wants to hear a song from her daddy. After the consert, we sometimes discuss what I should avoid. I let her advise me, because I know that she means it good. It’s not the rather good criticism, which is bad in real. We consult the clothing, repertoire. We definetitelly discuss that, you know. But I have a feeling that many women think they would give me better advise anyway. (laughing)

The same wide scale as the age of your audience has your repertoire as well. Last time you sang with the German rapper Bushido, which has some lyrics prohibited because of brutality.

I like to take trips. Into folk songs, swing, children’s songs. There is no genre I would not try. But on the other side, I don’t try to reach where I can’t. And Bushido is a very vulnerable guy. Even though he takes the rude way. Where I say love, he says Scheisse. He wanted to sing with me because of this contrast. But we do stay ourselves.

So you own your admirable career not only to your inborn talent and real diligence, but also to a lot of great people who you met on your way through life and music…

Of course. To meet the right peope is a great win of life. And I don’t talk about the fact, that my professor Konstantin Karenin accepted that I sang in cafés and on jazz concerts. Anyone else would throw me off the conservatory without any mercy! And my futher luck in life was in the fact that I was taught by professor Karenin. Already at the first lesson, before he started to teach, I told him, that I do not want to sing opera. But I want to learn the art, because I am fascinated by singers of type of Mario Lanza, who sings opera arias or belcanto melodies, but he also perfomes pop songs in films. So we made this clear directly. Konstantin Karenin understood me perfectly and since then, he stand behind me in a certain way. For example he protected me against other teachers, who wanted me to leave the school.

During your beginnings, you covered a lot of songs from the world scene.

Until I found Czech authors, who would take a notice of myself, I sang cover songs. Italian, american, english.. Those songs that I liked and where I was persuaded that they would fit me. With the passing years, I do really appreciate such records more and more. I could bring something own into them. It was the same case in songs which are in my catalogue until nowadays. Ptačí nářečí (Oh, lonesome me) was a song which sang in a very different way than Don Gibson did. The same happened with the beautiful balla Stokrát chválím čas (Everytime we touch). But in the song Cesta rájem (Crying in the Chapel), I wanted to approach to Elvis’ original in the best way. But a copy, even if it’s really excellent, always remains a copy. An imitator remains imitator. The most important thing is your own approach, your idea, personal investition and invention scale.

When you started to estabilish yourself in the West, very often people wrote about you as Sinatra of the East. Was it really Frank Sinatra whom you wanted to take after in your youth?

This comparison was of course only symbolical and of course, as a young guy I was flattered, but to tell the truth, I did not want to take after anyone. I wanted to be myself. But because nobody falls down learned from above, I wanted to learn from my great singer models. I wanted to find out the way of their interpretation, find out how they choose their repertoire. A row of those who I listened to and admired during my beginnings, is actually neverending. Should I give some names? Great vocal bands headed by The Platters, then to mention some and with no order of importance Johnny Mathis, Frankie Laine, Mario Lanza, Roy Orbison, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, Elvis Presley, the already mentioned Frank Sinatra… And I would be able to continue in these names actually for ever…

You have been making people happy for your whole life. What makes you happy?

Happiness for me, it’s when I succeed with the things I do, and this way, I make the others happy as well. I’m glad that I am not useless in this world, that I am worth something here. And you can clearly see it in my singing. We singers and musicians have the luck, that right after the performance and most of the time already during a song, people show you how excited they are, we feel every response of the audience. It’s a great feeling. A sculptor creates a sculpture, but he won’t know directly, how much joy it brought. He is not there when people admire his work.

You have a reputation of great professional, a person who can approach his surroundings. Where is the art of such approach?

In the naturality and it is given to everyone. Calculated diplomacy is clear immediatelly. How and who to meet and approach, for me it’s a matter of feelings. I can’t treat everyone in the same way. It’s important to estimate people in advance.

How do you estimate them?

I let the other one speak and I try to reach his frequence, to understand him. But at the same time, I follow him of course and I let him know, that I also have my opionion, that I don’t want to agree with him at any price. But this tactic does not pay off everytime. There are people who really hate me, without having met them. But it’s nothing negative, no reason why I should think about myself. They actually don’t know why they hate me. People who radiate strong aura and have personality, often evoke respect for some and hate for others. It is not a matter of envy.

They only feel the strength and they are disturbed by other frequences. The worst is the case when one is indifferent for all, if others do not think about him and say that he does not disturb them. There’s nothing there, no strenght, where you can lean. Those people that reached something, have always met different reactions for their performances or art. People either hated or loved them.

A good singer has to be a good psychologist as well. Do you agree?

Yes, and even in situations, where he does not have to meet his audience. For example when he is recording in a studio and there’s no contact with the audience. Then he has to estimate what they want to here, what’s interesting in the given period, what he wants to tell the audience.

What do you imagine if I say image?

That my appearance has to suite the song which I sing on the stage or in front of a camera. I can’t come in leisure dress to a symphony orchestra concert or on opposite, if I sing rock’n’roll or something more lively, I can’t be tight up in smoling and bow. It’s important to estimate the right situation. The image can change of course, why not? Orthodox fans do not like changes and they say. „What a pity, this does not fit Kája“. But it does not mean that I did something wrong. I have been performing for 43 years, so I can’t only sing hits of the era of 60-ies. I have to follow the time and offer what I feel today.

Nowadays I think about myself and things in a different way, I have a different approach to melody and lyrics. Of course, there were times when I did not think about that that much. It’s given by experience of life and responsibility. A beginning singer has nothing to loose. He only misses the opportunity of the moment, but this will be forgotten anyway. But for a renowned singer, nobody forgets that fast, if he does anything wrong.

What do you consider as your life triumph?

The triumph, as you mention, is an interplay of many factors. There are among others luck, inborn talent, meeting the right people, self-discipline, health… There are lots of them. But I don’t live in the way of looking back. I am not a type of a comfortable person, I don’t live in the past and from the past. I live with the belief that the best is to come!

from the interviews in 1999 – 2009