Published on 25/01/2022 11:00 am

Aki Rahimovski, lead vocalist and keyboard player of the legendary band Parni Valjak died on Sunday. He was born in 1955, in Serbian town of Niš to a Macedonian-Croatian family. The family moved around the former Yugoslavia a lot and ended up in Croatian capital Zagreb. There, Aki formed Parni Valjak (Steam Roller), a pop-rock group that was considered the Zagreb response to the Sarajevo-based Bijelo Dugme. And it became about as successful and influential. Which makes it the perfect, if somewhat sad reason to be featured in today’s edition of Balkan Express.

16 albums in nearly 50 years

Since their inception in 1975, Parni Valjak have produced and performed constantly until 2004. What was billed as a permanent dissolution of a rock-group-turned-institution, became a five-year hiatus. The group re-formed in 2009 and continued touring and performing their existing material until this day. And there was a lot of material to choose from. Parni Valjak released 16 studio albums, 5 live albums, four best-of compliations and two conctert DVDs. While DVDs we still a thing. They are by far among the most prolific and long-standing performers of the Balkan music scene.

Aki Rahimovski founded Parni Valjak together with Bosnian-Croatian guitarist Husein Hasanefendić and Jurica Pađen, another guitarist. They took on base player Zlatko Miksić a.k.a. Fuma and percussionist Srečko Antonioli and released their debutante album in Belgrade in 1976. This sparked a steady stream of albums, released in one-to-two-year increments. The opus also includes a 1979 full-length English album with a slight punk flavour, titled City Kids.

Doing their own thing

Despite making forays outside Yugoslav musical market (or whatever they called it back then), Parni Valjak never met much success outside the old country. But they managed to stick to their sound for almost decades. This earned them a large and loyal following. After Yugoslavia broke up, mainstream music in the newly established countries inevitably degenerated into any number of local strains of turbo-folk. Parni Valjak resisted the trend, becoming one of the few bands that continued to perform post-breakup and maintain its cross-border appeal.

Unlike some other bands, Parni Valjak were never on the bleeding edge of socially permissible, or even politically problematic. But they were never just a crowd-pleaser, either. They picked a line back in the 70s and stuck to it for almost 50 years. Along the way, they amassed numerous generation-defining hits.

End of the journey?

Obviously, the band’s line-up changed throught the years. But Husein Hasanefendović and Aki Rahimovski were the two original members who stayed with the group throughout its existence. And while it is not a given, it is entirely possible that with Aki’s departure from this world, Parni Valjak have reached the end of their journey. Aki Rahimovski, Parni Valjak’s lead vocalist died on Suday, aged 66 in Slovenian town of Novo mesto.

Check out Parni Valjak on YouTube, Spotify, or wherever you get your music from. Balkan Express will be back next week.

Balkan Express takes weekly trips into contemporary musical production of, you guessed it, the Balkans. Forget gusle and tamburice, this show is about rock, pop and a sense of humour. Well, at least there’s guitars. On air most Tuesdays in a new-and-improved time-slot at 1100 hrs. Usually. Your train conductor is Aljaž (aka @pengovsky) who once did the world a solid and decided never to sing again in public. Which is why he ended up doing radio

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With : Aljaž Every Tuesday at 10.00

Balkan Express takes weekly trips into contemporary musical production of the Balkans.

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Parni Valjak (Balkan Express 071)