A Bulat Okudjava bio I came across online. Does anyone know of a better one?
Bulat Okudjava (1924 - 1997) was one of the founders of the Russian author's song genre. He was born in Moscow and died in Paris.
His father, a high Communist Party member from Georgia, was arrested during the Great Purge by Stalin and executed as a German spy. His mother spent 18 years in a Gulag (1937-1955), years that Bulat spent at his grandmother's house.
In 1941, at the age of 17, he volunteered for the Red Army as infantry. This background with war and the governmant persecution was a primary influence for his poetry and songs, especially at this early stage. Such poetry was illegal at the time, and Okudjava was at great risk of persecution.
Okudjava wanted to become a Russian writer but never wrote a published novel. None of his poems were published at the time they were written, as he only shared them with his friends and distributed them to the public through privately recorded tapes.
Okudjava started the bard movement when he decided to start singing his poems while playing the guitar. Despite the fact that he only knew a few chords and was no composer, his songs were praised by his friends and were soon recorded. They spread across the country where other young people picked up guitars and started singing them.
"The composers hated me. The singers detested me. The guitarists were terrified by me." -- Bulat Okudjava