IVAN KRAL, 1948-2020

Patti Smith Group guitarist-bassist Ivan Kral, who spent the 1990s recording new Czech acts after the fall of the U.S.S.R., died Sunday at his home in Ann Arbor, Mich. He was 71.

Metronome festival producer David Gaydecka confirmed Kral’s death to Reuters. His wife, Cindy Hudson, told the New York Times the cause was cancer.

A Czechoslovakian, he emigrated to the U.S. in 1966 and played in several glam-rock bands before joining an early edition of Blondie. He joined Smith’s band in 1975, playing guitar and bass on her first four albums, co-writing songs such as “Dancing Barefoot,” “Ask the Angels,” and “Pissing in a River.”

After leaving Smith’s band in 1979, Kral worked with Iggy Pop on his albums Soldier and Party before beginning a string of collaborations with John Waite. He tried other projects—scoring films such as Barry Levinson’s Diner, forming new bands and running a recording studio—though the 1980s.

Kral returned to Prague in 1993 and produced numerous Czech bands, being honored as rock producer of the year in 1995 and 1998 with the Czech equivalent of a Grammy Award. He released about 10 solo albums recorded in the Czech Republic and his studio in Ann Arbor, Mich. His most recent release was 2018’s Colors.

He also made the film The Blank Generation featuring musicians from the downtown New York punk scene—Ramones, Talking Heads, New York Dolls, Television and others—that was released in 1976.

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