Marko Perković Thompson
A rock singer and presently one of the major names in Croatian music
. He strongly associates himself with Croatian nationalism, a source of some controversy among Croatian liberals and even, when the foreign press take any notice, abroad.
Thompson was born in 1967
; his father was one of many Croat Gastarbeiter
s who emigrated to Western Europe in search of work, and lived for many years in the West German city of Munchengladbach
, only returning to Yugoslavia
at Christmas and Easter. Young Marko's first experiences as a performer were with the electric guitar
brought back by his father on one of his visits home.
Like many young Croatian men, Thompson served in the Croatian army during the wars in Yugoslavia
, and he also released his first album during the conflict. Moli, mala
(Pray, little one
), contained the song which almost launched his career on its own. Bojna Čavoglave
(Berets of Čavoglava
) praises his comrades defending Croatia from the Serbia
n army, and opens with the slogan of the Croat volunteers, Za Dom spremni
- ready (to give their lives) for the Homeland.
Thompson's thumping rock numbers are typically overlaid with motifs from folk music, so that many of his songs, for instance, are played in with one of the region's traditional flutes. From time to time he rearranges existing folk songs, such as his 2000
release Moj Ivane
), a tale of a village boy off to join the army.
Thompson released two more albums during the 1990s, and was married for a time to winsome singer Danijela Martinović
, the princess of Dalmatia
- suggesting a Christmas family singsong to which one could surely have sold tickets. More than anything else, he believes in God, the family and Croatia, and is now always pictured wearing his trademark medallion of Saint Benedict
He made his real breakthrough in 2002
with his fourth CD, E, moj narode
(O, my people
), from which more than half the tracks have been hit singles. The macho image he carefully cultivates - appearing in military fatigues in the video for Stari se
, a duet with the rising Bosnian Croat
- does not appear to have been dented by his incongruous adaptation, on one of E, moj narode
's biggest hits, of the chorus of ABBA
's Super Trouper
Thompson does not shy away from politics, although he describes himself as an ordinary Croat above all. He is an open supporter of the nationalist party, HDZ
, which governed Croatia until early 2000, and has joined the chorus of musicians and sportsmen (including tennis star Goran Ivanišević
and footballer Zvonimir Boban
) who are opposed to the large-scale arrest and extradition on war crimes charges of soldiers who had fought for Croatia.
His concerts have become nationalist fixtures, an association he consciously invites. In September 2002
a judge presiding over the case of eight alleged war criminals who had served as prison guards at the Lora
camp was sharply criticised after attending one, in the stadium of Hajduk Split
FC, while the trial was in progress.
In February 2003
the eyebrows of Zagreb's mayor, Vlasta Pavić
, were raised after Thompson performed at a victory party welcoming home the Croatian handball
team, newly crowned world champions. After he had launched into Bojna Čavoglave
with the shout Za Dom spremni
, a few dozen onlookers among the crowd of 50,000 answered him with salutes used by the soldiers of the NDH
, the fascist regime which ruled Croatia during World War II
Many in the Croatian media were alarmed, only a few weeks after skier Ivica Koštelić
had appeared to identify himself with a German soldier in a newspaper interview. The centre-left Prime Minister Ivica Račan
, who came to power after the death of President Franjo Tudjman
and HDZ's subsequent collapse, strongly condemned the extremists' behaviour, emphasising that Croatia had long ago broken with its Nazi past.