Alexander Gradsky (b. 1949) represents a unique phenomenon in Soviet rock music. A bright composer and a professional singer, he has a voice that can stretch over three octaves. In addition to writing music and then performing it, Gradsky is the author of interesting lyrics to some of his songs. The variety of songs covered in Gradsky's unusually varied repertoire is also quite interesting, ranging from traditional Russian folk songs redone with a twist of rock, to opera arias. Gradsky even performed a very difficult vocal part when he played the astronomer in the Rimsky-Korsakov opera The Golden Rooster, on the stage of Moscow's Bolshoi Theater in 1988.
Gradsky stood in the very stream of soviet Rock. As early as the age of 12, Gradsky had begun to sing the songs of Elvis Presley and other foreign, non-Soviet performers, accompanying himself on the guitar. In 1965 he started one of the first beat groups in Moscow, the Slavs, which remained in existence for only a year. In 1966, Gradsky became the leader (vocals, guitar) in a new music group, Skomorohi ("Jesters"). By 1969, Skomorohi had become popular and began touring the vast Soviet Union. The same year, Gradsky decided to further his vocal professionalism by enrolling in Gnesin Music Academy. He graduated in 1974 with a Master's degree in vocal performance. While studying in the Academy, he continued to play with the group. In 1971, Gradsky and Skomorohi had great success with their performance in the Soviet Pop-Rock Festival Silver Strings. After that, their songs appeared on the radio and their singles were released. But the real fame for Gradsky came from his work on the music for Andrei Konchalovsky's film Romance for Lovers. The soundtrack to the movie was as innovative as the movie itself. Gradsky sang all of the male parts, marvelously outdoing himself vocally.
In 1975 he finished working on the rock opera Stadium. In 1976-1978 he recorded the first and the second parts of the rock suite "Russian Songs." After that followed his albums Utopia A. G. (1979), Satires (1980), Life Itself (1981), Field Star (1982), The Flute and the Grand Piano (1983), Nostalgia (1984), The Contemplations of Jester (1987), and others. Since the late '80s Gradsky has been teaching vocals in the Gnesin Music Academy as well as still participating in various rock projects. Even though his fame is mostly limited to the Russian borders, he has worked with foreign stars such as Liza Minelli, Charles Aznavour, and others. In 1990, after a successful series of concerts with John Denver in Japan, Gradsky gained the attention of the leading Japanese record company VMI. The company produced Metamorphosis (1991), and The Fruits from the Cemetery (1995). On the latter album, Gradsky performs a remarkably diverse repertoire, which ranges from Russian folk songs to world-renowned opera arias, to Japanese romantic songs. To this day, Alexander Gradsky continues to please his fans with new and interesting works.