Zbigniew Wodecki: Polish music icon dies at 67

Article published on May 24, 2017
Article published on May 24, 2017

Zbigniew Wodecki was many things: author of several hits in the 70's and 80's, but also famous amongst children for singing a popular cartoon theme song. His place in the history of music has been undisputed for years, but his recent encounters with the alternative scene make his loss even more depressing. 

Zbigniew Wodecki was born in a family of musicians. From the age of five, he was studying various instruments, from violin to trumpet to piano. While still in high school he was already performing abroad as a supporting musician to the titans of Polish music – Ewa Demarczyk and Marek Grechuta. His solo career kick-started when he won the first award for debuting artists in the 1972 Opole Festival, widely recognised back then as the most important event in Polish pop music.

From that point, Wodecki went on to record and perform some of the greatest hits of Polish pop music, including Chałupy Welcome To and Izolda.  Perhaps surprisingly, his most popular performance is a theme song for a children’s animated TV series Maya the Honeybee. For unknown reasons this Japanese, German and Austrian co-produced show was extremely popular in the 80's and 90's in Poland, and Wodecki's voice stayed ingrained in the memory of today's 30-year-olds. 

For today’s youth, Wodecki is not like other old-pop-musicians-turned-TV-stars over which our Dads get overly sentimental at times. The artist’s image was transformed thanks to his involvement with an alternative jazz band called Mitch&Mitch. The founder of the band - Macio Moretti - stumbled upon an old Wodecki record (that, initially, didn’t even sell very well), and convinced his perplexed band members to play some of the songs. In a brilliant turn of events, they managed to convince the artist himself to play with them, which led to a memorable concert during the OFF Festival in Katowice in 2013. The positive reaction from the audience convinced Wodecki to re-record his album from 40 years back with Mitch&Mitch. A new record with a telling title “1976: A Space Odyssey," combined the original compositions with a pinch of Frank Zappa-inspired craziness, and enjoyed critical praise and commercial success.

In his interviews, Wodecki comes off as a down-to-earth and kind person. He is well known for his support for LGBT community in Poland. In the photo above, taken for an anti-discriminatory NGO Kampania Przeciw Homofobii, the sign reads: “I am an ally of LGBT persons, because I want to live in a country, where my homosexual friends are not discriminated against. Because why would they be!”