Dietrich, Bacharach and Niemen

Star in Warsaw

Hunted for Czesław Niemen

In 1964, the Warsaw concerts of Marlene Dietrich, accompanied by Burt Bacharach, were supported by the Polish band Niebiesko-Czarni. “Marlene came to see Czesław Niemen and asked for his song ‘Do you still remember me?’. Nobody believed that it might lead to something,” said Dariusz Michalski, a Polish Radio music journalist. In the 1950s and early 1960s the outstanding composer and pianist Burt Bacharach figured as a well-known accompanist for various performers and was also musical director for Marlene Dietrich. In January 1964, they arrived in Poland together, where they gave six concerts. “On page 85 of his book Burt Bacharach. Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head, he recalls the Polish weather, Marlene, Polish vodka and the Bristol Hotel, a first-class hotel at the time,” says Dariusz Michalski, “Niebiesko-Czarni played as a support act at Dietrich’s concerts. As for Burt Bacharach, he conducted an orchestra of Polish musicians and American drummers and bassists, but nobody then knew who he was.” However, everybody knew who Marlene Dietrich was and her interest in a Czesław Niemen song caused a sensation. She asked Niemen for the music and lyrics of the song ‘Czy mnie jeszcze pamiętasz’. Dariusz Michalski continues: “In November 1964 Burt Bacharach conducted an orchestra while Dietrich sang her own German version of the Polish song which is called ‘Mutter, hast du mir vergeben’. This was the point Czesław Niemen was introduced to Europe.”

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