Croatian-American rock singer Miljenko Matijević talks about his career and returning to Croatia
- by croatiaweek
- in Entertainment
There are a number of musicians with Croatian heritage born outside Croatia who have made an impact around the world, such as Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic, Toto’s David Paich, Michael Bublé, and Lorde.
One musician who was born in Croatia and has made an impact around the world is the frontman of the rock band Steelheart, Miljenko Matijević.
Miljenko was born in Zagreb and lived with his grandmother for the first few years of his life as his parents headed off to the US. When he was five, his parents came back and then took him back with them to the US where he has resided ever since.
The love for music was always in his blood.
“When I was three, I’d stand up on a chair in my grandmother’s kitchen and sing all the Croatian songs on the radio,” he told the All Things Croatia podcast.
Miljenko says early on in his life in the US he was influenced by his father’s love for country music, and he started listening to the greats like Johnny Cash and John Denver.
He says the defining moment that led him down the path of rock music came when he was 11 years old and was introduced to Led Zeppelin and the voice of Robert Plant.
Inspired by Led Zeppelin and other bands at the time like Van Halen, Black Sabbath, and Bad Company, Miljenko got into his first band at the age of 15, and when he was 17 he met up with the other members of Steelheart.
For a decade, they would rehearse and play until they signed a deal with Universal. Their single “She’s gone” would be a massive hit in Japan and Asia, leading the band to tour there. The song has also been the No. 1 karaoke song in South Korea since 1989.
Their hit “I’ll Never Let You Go” reached No. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100, and their self-titled debut album was certified gold by the RIAA.
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Steelheart have just completed their 30th anniversary album, and Miljenko says they are in talks with Croatia Records and another label to release the record in Croatia.
“The only country that really does not know me is my own country, which is pretty interesting. But I am excited to connect with my country, and I want to come and perform there. I’m ready,” Miljenko says.
Miljenko, who also sang the vocals for Mark Wahlberg’s character in the 2001 movie Rock Star, talks more in detail about his story on the podcast, as well as about an on-stage accident that almost killed him.
You can watch the podcast in the video below.