Dino Dvornik is one of the most prolific Croatian musicians. He was a singer, songwriter, producer and considered an “enfant terrible” of the Croatian music scene. Unsurprisingly, “Enfant Terrible” is also the name of his fourth album, released in 1997.
Dino started his first band “China Wall” when he was 17, along with his older brother Dejan. Its name was inspired by a very big building complex in Split (locally called “Kineski zid” or “Chinese Wall”), where his family lived in the 1980s.
Dino Dvornik’s First Record
Dino’s first independent record was simply called “Dino Dvornik”. That album was issued in 1989 and is considered to be the first example of funk music in Croatia and surrounding Balkan countries. The record carried 8 songs and was made during only 80 hours of recording, which by industry standards is very low. Apparently, it was all the time that Dino could afford to book at a music studio. This record proved Dino’s immense talent and creativity. The record was a huge hit and sold 750,000 copies.
His next record “Creative Mess” (Kreativni nered) was released only a year later. Dino planned on a big regional tour, which was cancelled due to the Croatian War of Independence aka the “Homeland War”. During this time, Dino suffered from depression. He also used drugs, considered an unavoidable part of the music scene at the time.
“Nature and Society” (Priroda i društvo) released in 1993 didn’t repeat the success of his debut record, but it was notable for the song “I’ve broken the bridges of sleep” (Rušila sam mostove od sna) performed with another iconic and charismatic Croatian artist Josipa Lisac.
In 1995, Dino released a single called “Afrika”, which is notably one of his most beloved songs. Many of his hits can still be heard on Croatian radio stations, but Afrika is special. At the time, electronic music was still in its infancy. “Afrika” was considered to be progressive for its fast rhythm, beats, and use of electronic sounds. It has been recognized by many Europeans house and techno DJs. “Afrika” was a part of the album “Enfant Terrible”. Dino was awarded a Porin (a Croatian version of Grammy award) for hit of the year for “Afrika”.
“Enfant Terrible” was followed by two more original albums; “Big Mamma” in 1999 and “Svicky” in 2002, but they did not repeat the success of his earlier records.
What followed was a creative gap of sorts. In 2006, Dino invited television cameras into his home, another “first” for him. The reality show was modeled after the American reality show “The Osbournes” and featured his wife Danijela and daughter Ella. It was the first reality show of that kind to be filmed and produced in Croatia.
Two years later, determined to make a comeback, he was working very hard on his next record titled “Pandora’s box” (Pandorina kutija). According to his friends and family, Dino was very nervous and under a lot of stress, worried about whether his audience will approve of his new music.
Before releasing the new album, the uncrowned king of Croatian funk music died in his sleep on September 7th, 2008 due to a lethal combination of anxiety and anti-depressant medication. “Pandora’s box” was published posthumously and won several awards, including the Porin for Record of the Year. After his death, Dino was also awarded a lifetime achievement award.
A little more about Dino Dvornik
Dino Dvornik was native to Split. Split people are known for being nostalgic. If you enter the town of Split via Poljička Cesta, you may notice a large mural dedicated to Dino Dvornik and his father Boris Dvornik.
The writing in the mural says:
“No more Boris, no more Dino
The sea withdrew, the rock has crushed
Much smaller the Split stage appears to be now.”
Boris Dvornik was one of the most talented and fruitful Croatian actors. Boris and Dino died within 6 months of each other. Both of them are very well-known and loved in the city of Split, each of them icons, in their own way.