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Zagreb, Croatia (1977 – 1990)

Azra was a band from Zagreb, Croatia (then Yugoslavia) that was popular in the 1980s. Azra was formed in 1977 by its frontman Branimir “Johnny” Štulić. He became an urban legend even before Azra recorded the first album. He would show up with his guitar in various locations around the city and sing to everyone, or nobody, depending on the occasion. The other two members were Mišo Hrnjak (bass) and Boris Leiner (drums). They named the band after the verse “Ja se zovem El Muhamed/Iz plemena starih Azra/Što za ljubav glavu gube/I umiru kada ljube!” (trans. “My name is El Muhamed/From the tribe of the old Azra/That lose their lives for love/And die when they kiss!”) from a sevdalinka “Kraj tanahna šadrvana”, which is a translation of Heinrich Heine’s song Der Asra.

They released their first single in 1979 with the songs “Balkan” and “A šta da radim”. The first, self-titled, album, published in 1980, achieved commercial success and popularized Azra in Yugoslavia. Azra recorded their last studio album “Između krajnosti” in 1987. In 1988 the band recorded a 4LP live album under the name “Zadovoljština” (Satisfaction). They disbanded in 1990.
Štulić recorded another three albums in Houten, Netherlands, where he currently resides. He lives a secluded life and is often the target of reporters seeking an interview (most often unsuccesfully).


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