One of Russia’s most passionate poets is being remembered on the 70th anniversary of his birth. Vladimir Vysotsky was a thorn in the side of the Soviet Union, his biting social criticisms delivered in the language of the street. Despite no official recognition, and thus no contract from the state publishing monopoly Melodiya, the rise of tape recordings brought him widespread fame.
Indeed, the former President Leonid Brezhnev was reputed to be a fan, allowing him to perform live on Soviet television, the first time such a critic was so honoured.
Vysotsky performed wherever he could – in theatres, universities, private homes, even in the open air. It wasn’t unusual for him to give several concerts a day.
Vladimir Vysotsky suffered a heart attack and died in Moscow on July 25, 1980, aged just 42. A million people attended his funeral.