Often referred to as the "golden voice of Prague" and the "Sinatra of the East," celebrated Czech singer, actor, and painter Karel Gott's career spanned six decades and yielded hundreds of albums and compilations before his death in October of 2019. Emerging in the early '60s, Gott's first solo single, a rendering of Henry Mancini's “Moon River," helped put him on the map, and as the years progressed he dabbled in everything from pop, rock, and country to opera and swing. Able to entertain in Russian, English, German, and Italian, as well as his native Czech, Gott was hugely popular in Eastern Europe, but also found favor with audiences in Western Europe and the United States.
Born on July 14, 1939 in the town of Pilson, Gott moved to Prague at the age of six. Initially intent on becoming an electrician, he was fascinated by jazz and began singing in public in the late '50s. By 1960, he was studying opera and voice at Prague Conservatory under Konstantin Karenin, who taught Gott to embrace popular music as well as the classics. He released his first single, a duet with Vlasta Pruchova, on Supraphon Records in 1962. His first solo single appeared in 1963 as a Czech version of the aforementioned "Moon River." Gott subsequently ended his official studies at the conservatory, quickly building an impressive career as a singer and composer. In 1967 he signed with Polydor/Deutsche Grammophon, where he would remain for the entirety of his professional career, releasing over 100 albums and selling an estimated 50 to 100 million of them.
Gott was diagnosed with cancer of the lymph nodes in 2015 but continued to perform and record. Sadly, in the summer of 2019, he developed acute leukemia and succumbed to the disease later that October. He released his final single, a duet with his daughter Charlotte titled "Srdce nehasnou" ("Hearts Will Go On"), earlier that year. ~ James Christopher Monger