The unknown life of the “queen of lute music”, Romica Puceanu, an artist with a difficult destiny tried by unhealed loves and a lonely end

Lovers of lute music already know who Romica Puceanu was, but also details about her contribution to this genre.

Besides, Romica Puceanu is also known to lovers of other musical genres, since, at one point, a Romanian DJ thought it appropriate to make a mix between one of her songs and another, belonging to the band The Prodigy.

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Romica Puceanu

Romica Puceanu, known all over Romania, but also in the USA and Japan

During the communist period, it can be said that lute music was not promoted at all, relying rather on light music compositions, sung by performers approved by the regime.

Despite these restrictions, Romica Puceanu was often invited to sing for the communist “foam” of those times, even if these chermezes remained, at least in theory, “under lock and key”.

Even so, it was not difficult for the artist to make a name for herself, since her talent seemed to break all barriers, including those of the country. So Romica Puceanu was known both at home and in the USA and Japan. This, we must admit, especially for that period, was an extraordinary thing.

Romica Puceanu was committed to the viralization of authentic gypsy music, which ultimately made her unique. She was proud of her origins, and her self-confidence made her respected and listened to by an entire country.

She sang cleanly and from the heart, and her concerts succeeded in reaching the hearts of all who were fortunate enough to be with her near the stage.

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She didn’t shy away from sad songs either, but she also knew how to liven up the atmosphere when the situation called for it.

She began her life in the slums of Bucharest and went on to sing in the big restaurants of the city, and was later called “the queen of lute music”.

Among her best-known songs are “Șaraiman”, “Ileană, Ileană”, “Anii mei și tinerețea” and “Eu de când te-am cunoscut”, among many others, of course.

“The audience was in the restaurant just like a show. When Romica Puceanu came in, they paid attention, they didn’t even eat. It was an honour for them – especially if she came to their table to play for them”, says accordionist Viorel Fundament, in a report by “Kestiuni rome”.

Eventually, he even ended up on the stage of the “Constantin Tănase” Revival Theatre, alongside Stela Popescu, Alexandru Arșinel and Nicu Constantin. These three became, over time, extremely close friends.

Obviously, people “jumped” with money every time they heard Romica’s name.

“I tell you honestly, there were evenings when she’d just put her hand on the microphone – she hadn’t even started singing – and the money would come! Believe me!”, remembers Viorel Fundament, according to Adevărul.ro. “Viorel, mom – she used to talk to me like this – if someone gives you money and that bill falls down, don’t bend down to pick it up. Keep your personality”, Romica Puceanu advised him at one point.

In addition, the artist apparently never bragged about the money she earned from her work and her telent.

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“You knew her from a thousand women that this was Romica, by everything she did. She had a very good soul. Well, she used to give me money, especially when I was a kid: ‘Na, go get yourself some chocolate’. And I was like, “That’s enough, I don’t want any more.” “Take it, you’re fucking blind”,” recalls clarinetist George Udilă, according to the source quoted above.

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Romica Puceanu – photo from the concert

Romica Puceanu retired from music in her last years of life: she died alone, forgotten by all

Over the years, Romica Puceanu is said to have had many idylls. “It is true that among Romica’s lovers was Bebe Șerban, known as Bebe de la Petrăchioaia”.

In addition, Gabi Luncă reported at one point that before he married Ion Onoriu, he and Romica were reportedly quite close.

For his part, accordionist Andrei Mihalache claims that Romica was also in love with Amza Pellea: “I was singing one evening and I see that she quickly goes to the mirror and powder-sprays, does her hair, does her hair. We were having fun, laughing: “What are you doing?”. “Here comes Amza.” Me and the owner started laughing, like this, more respectfully, like this, more quietly. As God is my witness: Amza Pellea came, when he saw him he went, they hugged, they kissed, they sat at the table and, indeed, there was a very beautiful relationship between Amza Pellea and Romica”, he recounted.

In her later years, although she still sang at some weddings and parties, Romica Puceanu retired, at least officially, from the stage in her later years.

She died on October 24, 1996, alone and ill. Loneliness washed over her four years before she died, forgotten by all those who once flocked to see her in concert.

In the latter part of her life she underwent two stomach operations and several other eye surgeries.

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