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Željko Samardžić

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Željko Samardžić (Жељко Самарџић, born October 3, 1955 in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, then FPR Yugoslavia) is a Bosnian Serb pop singer popular throughout the former Yugoslav republics.

Born to Serbian parents, Samardžić’s father was a Yugoslav Army officer, which meant that the family had to move around a lot. After spending the first seven years of his life in Mostar, young Zeljko lived and attended school in Nikšić, Igalo and Zadar before eventually returning to Mostar during his teenage years.

He first started singing during high school, and soon became known around Mostar for being a good Kemal Monteno impersonator. Samardžić’s musical activity during this period was essentially little more than a hobby as he didn’t put out any official releases and mostly sang in kafanas and restaurants in addition to competing in the occasional obscure festival. The closest he came to wide main stream success was a schlager “Moja Marija je drugačija” that became a hit in Bosnia during 1970s after he performed it at Prvi aplauz festival in Banja Luka, but he mostly earned his living running a cafe in Mostar, located in close proximity of the famous Old Bridge.

When the war broke out in 1992, Željko was wounded in Mostar while sitting in his apartment. A stray bullet entered his leg and exited his hip. After much trouble, along with his wife and their daughter, he managed to flee the city through the Croat controlled western part of Herzegovina and eventually reach Serbia after going through Istria, Slovenia and Hungary.

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