Crossover Prog • Russia

Autograph (Avtograf) biography

Founded in Moscow in 1979 - Disbanded in 1990 - One-off reunion in 2005 and again in 2012

AUTOGRAPH was one of the cornerstone of progressive rock movement in former Soviet Union. The band was founded in May 1979 by guitarist Alexander Sitkovetsky (ex-VISOKOSNOE LETO). Three other members of initial line-up were Leonid Goutkin (bass, bassoon), Leonid Makarevich (keyboards) and Andrej Morgunov (drums).

A month later some changes were done: Vladimir Yakushenko became a new drummer, the former VISOKOSNOE LETO keyboardist Kris Kelmi joined AUTOGRAPH and Sergey Brutyan became a lead-singer. Most of band members were professional musicians, so AUTOGRAPH became one of the most professional rock bands in Russia in the end of the 70s.

After 6 months (the band still played in local dancings and didn't play a real live show at all) AUTOGRAPH participated in the first largest rock-fest in former USSR (''Tbilisi-80'' in Georgia). Being one of the few bands with professional musicianship (while the majority of others were more concentrated on lyrics), they shared the second prize with GUNESH from Turkmenistan (GUNESH is on PA too). ''Tbilisi-80'' festival had good press and its winners became well known all around the country. Whenever not so socially critical as other Soviet rock bands, they even were contracted with State Concert Agency. It opened them bigger mass media possibilities (whenever at that time there were only government mass media in USSR), they became first established art-rock band. AUTOGRAPH popularity began to grow up and they started to play not only at universities' clubs, but often at hockey arenas. Several band's songs were used in a popular movie, it was the beginning of AUTOGRAPH "golden period".

In May 1982 Sergey Brutyan left the band. Artur Micheev "Berkut" became a new vocalist. Some fans were disappointed with this change, but Berkut progressed as a singer very fast. In the end even die-hard fans accepted him. Complex (but sometimes raw) instrumental compositions were their signature in sound. Lyrics (most of them were written by Margarita Pushkina, well-known rock poet in Russia till now) told of personal feelings, of searching individual's own way of life and, often as a compromise with official ideology, of the danger of war. Typical love theme presented in some songs as well, but it never dominated in AUTOGRAPH repertoire.

When in 1983 Communist Party increased the pressure to all liberate musicians, the band tried to find their way to survive, playing more popular (and often more instrumental) music. In 1984-85 some new wave elements appeared in AUTOGRAPH music, though basically it was still good quality progressive rock. Many of this period's songs circulate among fans, but unfortunately were never released officially.

AUTOGRAPH was one the few Soviet bands played abroad (first - Bulgaria, then Czech Republic and Hungary). In 1985 they participated in Bob Geldof's Live Aid - two songs, played by the band in Moscow studio, have been shown at Wembley stadium screens and all around the globe on TV. In 1986 first official LP "Autograph" saw the light of day. During their concert in Sopot Festival (1987, Poland) they signed 5 years-long contract with "Capitol Records" and toured Western Europe and North America (where played in US with CHICAGO).

But in general time changed not for good to AUTOGRAPH. Due to political changes in Soviet Union new generation of bands, often less professional as musicians but more actual lyrically, with songs about social problems, found their way to wide audience. AUTOGRAPH was too much part of establishment, so the band started to lose popularity in their motherland. Additionally, musical fashion changed abroad. In the late 80-s bigger part of musicians left the band. New team, trying to adapt to current musical tendencies, started to play more AOR-oriented music and even recorded an album in the USA. Despite of this, the ship was going down - AUTOGRAPH lost domestic fans and didn't become too popular abroad. Soon, in 1990, musicians decided to disband.

Alexander Sitkovetsky recorded 2 solo albums, interesting for fans of good guitar-driven rock with prog touches, "Zello" (1991) in Russia and "Empty Arena" (1999) in the USA, where he lives now. Most of the band members are still involved in different musical projects, except for the first singer, Sergey Brutyan, who made a successful career as a lawyer.

In the end of 2004 AUTOGRAPH "golden line-up" (Sitkovetsky, Goutkin, Berkut, Michalin, Makarevich) reunited for a short time in order to celebrate the band's 25-th and Live Aid's 20-th anniversaries. In 2005 they, together with Brutian, Kelmi and Sergey Mazaev as guests, toured Russia and Belarus with a grandiose series of concerts, including big screen projections, light- and laser show and even surround sound. Live CD and DVD were released. There are no plans for longer reunion, but, as these musicians themselves tell: "Never say never!".

Highly recommended as one of the best and most professional prog bands in former USSR.

Better CDs:

1."Autograf 1 / Autograf 1980-82" - recordings of the first line-up; this CD contains most band's classics of that period. 2." 25 лет спустя. Юбилейный концерт / 25 Years After. Jubilee Concert" - released both as double CD and DVD and contains most of the band's best songs. Musicians and singer are still in good form, sound quality is top notch.

Slava (Snobb) and Eugene (NotAProghead)



Автограф - Ирландия. Ольстер

Автограф - Нам нужен мир @ live Aid 1985

Автограф - The World Inside @ Sopot'87


4.08 | 7 ratings
Autograph / Автограф

1981 | EP

4.27 | 48 ratings
Autograph / Автограф

1986 | LP

3.37 | 19 ratings
Kamenniy kray / Stone Land

1989 | LP, MC, CD

2.13 | 13 ratings
Tear Down The Border

1991 | CD, MC

4.45 | 11 ratings
Autograf 1 / Автограф 1 (1980-82)

1996 | CD, MC

4.06 | 9 ratings
25 лет спустя. Юбилейный концерт / 25 Years After. Jubilee Concert

2005 | CD

4.92 | 6 ratings
25 лет спустя. Юбилейный концерт / 25 Years After. Jubilee Concert

2005 | DVD