Google Marks Birthday Anniversary of Late Soviet-Era Rock Star

Google posted a special ‘doodle’ on its home page on Thursday to mark the 50th anniversary of the birth of the late perestroika-era rock star Viktor Tsoi.

Tsoi, the vocalist and guitarist of the legendary rock group Kino, was born on June 21, 1962. He died in August 1990 at the age of 28 in a car crash in the then-Soviet republic of Latvia.

Kino were one of the Soviet Union’s first rock groups, and along with Boris Grebenshchikov’s Akvarium were part of the St. Petersburg (then Leningrad) underground rock scene. Although they drew heavily on Western rock and New Wave bands, Tsoi and his group created a uniquely Russian sound that mixed acoustic and electric guitars with simple yet oddly philosophical lyrics.

Although the group was essentially apolitical, Tsoi’s music encapsulated the younger generation’s growing disillusionment with the Soviet system. “I knew everything would turn out bad, but I didn’t know so soon,” he sang in the song Filmi (Films).

Despite struggling against state hostility in their early years, Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika saw Tsoi achieve a nationwide fame that culminated in a concert at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium in June 1990. It was the last time he would appear on stage.

After Tsoi’s death, an impromptu shrine to the singer was established just off the central Moscow pedestrian street, the Old Arbat, where fans, many of them too young to remember the Soviet era, still gather at the graffiti-covered wall to sing his songs.

The image of the sun featured in Thursday’s Google ‘doodle’ refers to one of Kino’s most famous songs, “The Star Called Sun.”


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