Text by Joe Yanosik
The Plastic who of the what? Never heard of them and I’ve been playing music for decades, you might say. Well, it’s not your fault. Even on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean where they’re from, the Plastic People (actually from Czechoslovakia, not the Universe) remained obscure. In America, fans of alternative music may simply know them as a cult band who made weird, experimental music. In fact, the Plastic People of the Universe were one of the greatest rock groups to emerge from Central Europe during the Communist era and their incredible history should be known far and wide by everyone who plays music for a living.
Formed in Czechoslovakia in 1968 shortly after the Warsaw Pact Invasion in which Soviet tanks and troops crushed the liberal period known as the Prague Spring, the Plastic People of the Universe endured two decades of persecution from the Communist regime simply because they refused to conform to the Soviet “normalization”. Since the era of Stalin, the Communists knew the importance of controlling the art in a society and they used art as propaganda to promote their own fake reality. They were fully aware of the power of music and art and couldn’t let it be created freely for fear that the truth would escape.