GDR: After the hot-cold political mood swings of the 60s, the GDR set out to present an image of itself as being open to the world, in an attempt at achieving recognition from both West Germany and the international community. Part of this was to encourage the development of their own “German Democratic” version of Rock & Roll - with lyrics in German and reflecting life in a socialist society. But by the middle of the decade, the climate turned back to repression.
Hungary: The so-called Goulash Communism - with its the introduction of certain aspects of market-economy in the 60s - was blessed with relative prosperity and social tranquillity. However the end of the decade brought a minor recession, and societal tensions reappeared
Klaus Renft Combo: VIDEO A TV shows like rund were developed as a platform for Rock Music, with strong editorial input from the ideological youth organization, FDJ (Free German Youth). Peter Michael “Cäser” Gläser, singer and guitarist in the band Renft, remembers that, during the band’s live appearance on rund, a tape of the previous day’s dress rehearsal lay cued up and ready to go, in case of any “unwelcome surprises” during the live broadcast.
This popular and award winning group 1 was banned in 1975 because of dissident lyrics appearing on their unreleased 3rd album 2. Some band members left the country while others ended up in prison 3.
Wolf Biermann: In spite of that fact that he was forbidden to perform publically, copies of his lyrics were privately circulated 4. In 1976 he unexpectedly received permission to travel to West Germany. At the same time, he was instructed not to perform certain songs, such as “Stasiballade”(Stasi Ballad). After a concert in Cologne was broadcast live on West German television, his East German citizenship was revoked. VIDEO B 5 Writers, actors and other cultural figures came out in solidarity 6 and the general public expressed its outrage.
Singer and actor, Manfred Krug, one of the initiators of the Biermann protest, found himself forbidden to work, and finally left for West Berlin in 1977. As was the rule for any artist who left the country and lost their citizenship, his music was banned from the radio and a Manfred Krug music featurette was pulled from circulation VIDEO C.
Illés VIDEO D was in constant flux between great popular acclaim - multiple prizes at the Tancdalfesztival, as well as a steady stream of record releases 7, and censorship actions - such as orchestrated delays in the release of records and the outright banning of songs such as “Europa Csendes” (Europe is Silent) and “Sárga rósza” (Yellow Rose), a song about Czechoslovakia in 1968. An order forbidding live performances came down in 1970/71, after a critical interview granted to the BBC and front man János Bródy was indited for remarks made about the police during a concert, which were taken as rebellious and sarcastic. Illés, and later János Bródy on his own, were constantly caught in the squeeze between attracting and avoiding censorship.
Radio Journalist, Zsuzsa Göczey, offers her observations on the media presence of Rock Music in Hungary VIDEO E.
Beatrice: Spokespeople of the 'csöves' (“Drainpipe People” - referring to drainpipe jeans and also to the kind of tunnel-like underpass or walkways in which they would congregate) was a term for a generation of alienated, disenfranchised urban youth 8. On the one hand, Beatrice was forbidden to perform and unable to release a record, despite their obvious popularity. On the other, a concerted effort was made to bring them into the fold (and perhaps, in so doing, to discredit them in the eyes of their rebellious core audience). The band was booked to perform with various megastars of the day, such as Omega and Locomotiv GT, at a concert in the Kiss Stadium (released as a live album) and was featured in a TV documentary about the youth generation VIDEO F.
Spions: Punk pioneers VIDEO G who provoked their audiences with confrontational performance, anti-Communist lyrics and their playing off of the taboo of Nazism 9. In 1978, Gergely Molnár and Péter Hegedüs (today Peter OGI) emigrated to the West to escape the constraints on artistic expression as well as surveillance by the III/III department of the Hungarian ministry of the interior (secret police).