One of the most popular Gypsy singers in the Balkans, Saban Bajramovic, died Sunday, June 8. Bajramovic, known as the "king of Gypsy music" in the Balkan region suffered a heart attack and died at a hospital in his southern Serbian hometown of Nis. He was 72. "An enormous loss to the national culture," said Serbia’s Culture minister Vojislav Brajovic.
Saban Bajramović was born April 16, 1936 in Nis (Serbia). He learned music playing in the streets, like many other Gypsy children. At age 19, he deserted the Yugoslav army because of love. He was sentenced to three years imprisonment at the infamous Communist-era Goli Otok isolation facility on an island in the Adriatic sea. He defied the military court saying that there was no sentence long enough for him to serve so his sentence was extended to five and a half years.
While in prison, Šaban Bajramović founded a prison band that played jazz as well as Spanish and Mexican melodies. After he left prison, Bajramović made his first record in 1964. In total, he recorded twenty albums and more then fifty singles. He wrote and composed about seven hundred songs.
In the 1990s Bajramović participated in the landmark Mostar Sevdah Reunion album, which brought together legendary Gypsy musicians from the former Yugoslavia.