A life that few have had
– If God gives you a talent, share it with people! - said Aki. And when he went on stage, everyone felt that he belonged there.
Aki was immersed in the world of music from an early age. He was born in Niš, but he remembers his childhood in Skopje, the city where his family moved when he was only a few months old. His father was a music teacher, so it's no surprise that Aki had an ear. But apart from natural talent, he built his career through lifelong effort and work.
Namely, he already started a music school at the age of seven, where he played the piano and sang. Although the most important thing in the world to little Aki was football, not the piano, over the years his passion for music prevailed.
As a teenager, he rejected the classics, let his hair down and indulged in the rock wave. On one occasion, he told how, together with the drummer of the band Leb i sol, Garabet Tavitijan, he went to the high school music school entrance exam. He says that they were rejected without any explanation. He thought it was probably because of the long hair. But if it weren't for long hair and cruel rejection, there probably wouldn't be Steamroller either.
Namely, at only nineteen years old, Aki decided to go out into the world. He came to the Zagreb station with one bag and big dreams. He didn't even know the language. This ignorance led him into some awkward situations. The most interesting anecdote from the life of the young newcomer and the story that all his friends remember is the one about the sausage. Namely, Aki really liked jaegerwurst, so when he came to the store, he shyly asked for "10 blankets of purger". The saleswoman asked him: - Boy, are you thinking of a jaeger? – to which Akija was covered in shame and sweat. Later that story became almost unbelievable. He learned Croatian so well that he also picked up the Zagreb accent. but the memories of awkward beginnings would always lead to bursts of laughter.
Not long after his arrival, Aki became a member of the band Grupa 220. They were quite successful at the time, having previously released the album "Slike". However, the band members were not dedicated enough to the band, so Hus and Aki, with the support of Vladimir Mihaljek, founded a new band they called "Parni valjak". Fuma and Papa soon joined them. Although the band has been in existence for almost fifty years, it is interesting to remember how "Parnjaci" were not too confident in their quality from the beginning.
Hus, in fact, was not a very talented lyricist, so the young men relied mostly on performance. They mutually agreed that the performances must be so good that the band must be invited again! Because of this, from the beginning, they created a good relationship with the audience, who would faithfully follow them from concert to concert.
And the wonderful energy on stage was the product of Aki. When he appeared on the stage, everyone felt that he belonged there. He knew exactly how to read the atmosphere of the audience to whom he would express a multitude of emotions. Generations grew up with his recognizable and somewhat raspy voice. Hus said that Aki, because of their discussions after the concerts, caused a lot of wrinkles on his forehead, but also that he filled his soul and heart. The inseparable tandem built an incredible career together, and the secret of success for them was – love for work.
They would play at least a hundred concerts every year, and when they weren't performing in front of an audience, they were recording in the studio. In the mid-eighties, at the fair in Milan, they were noticed by an Italian record company that wanted them to record the hits "Od motela do motela" and "Predstavi je kraj" for the European market. But his international career was prevented by calls to the army, and Valjak then had to rest.
It is often written that "Parni Valjak" was designed to be Zagreb's version of "Bijelo Dugmet". In a comedy show, Aki completely refuted that thesis saying that it is incorrect for one very simple reason - he is much prettier than Bebek!
In addition to singing and performing, Aki was also known as a great gourmet. He often cooked Macedonian dishes for friends and colleagues. One of his favorite dishes was sarma with lamb innards, and he also prepared "gravče na tavče" very well. When he wasn't cooking, he would take care of the dogs and cats he often adopted straight off the street.
Despite releasing an independent album, Aki remained loyal to the band with which he began his career. Although the musicians often changed, he said that they never hired "people from the classifieds", but always friends. The recipe for success and longevity of Steamroller was described by the humble Aki saying: - People must remain primarily people, and here I am among friends, here among people...-