“This song is a hit, Dan Spătaru didn’t die”: the story of the charismatic footballer who became the most loved singer in Romania

Dan Spătaru was one of the most important Romanian artists of all time. He has gladdened the hearts of entire generations in our country, when music, but also other arts, offered comfort, in a period of difficult social and political trials.

“Îți Pare Rău”, “Drumurile Noastre” or the famous silver “cranes” that “laugh in the sun”, these are only some of the songs that nostalgics still listen to now, more than 18 years after Dan Spătaru’s death.

Dan Spataru young singer
Dan Spătaru in his youth / archive image

A herniated disc transformed footballer Dan Spătaru into the singer loved by millions of Romanians

Dan Spătaru was born on October 2, 1939, in Aliman, Constanța county. He passed away on September 8, 2004, following a heart attack, but he remained in the collective memory of Romanians as one of the most important and charismatic artists of all time.

He grew up in a family of teachers (parents) and farmers (grandparents), and in his early years he loved horses very much.

Later, young Dan would discover football, and at one point even had the opportunity to play professionally in the B division.

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But how did Dan Spătaru become the most famous Romanian singer of all time?

Well, he grew up with the songs performed by his parents, which planted the “seed” for music in his soul.

As a student, a herniated disc forced him to give up football, so he took refuge in his other passion, music. In 1962, he began to sing at the Casa Studenților, performing songs in Italian, which were much appreciated by the Romanian public, especially at that time.

It was not long before he was discovered by the composer Camelia Dăscălescu, who decided to meditate him.

Dan Spătaru’s first hit song was called “Măicuța Mea”, and later he delighted the hearts of music lovers with “Nicio lacrimă”. Passed the Military Fanfare”, “Nu m-am gândit la despărțire”, “În rândul patru” or “Vorbește Lumea că-s Ștrengar”, among many others, obviously.

Dan Spataru music Songs
Dan Spătaru/ archive image

His real success came in adulthood, with a “borrowed” song

However, he had his real success in adulthood, more precisely in the late 1980s, when he sang a cover of the song “Ona noćas neće doći” (“She won’t come tonight”, in Romanian), by Croatian composer Nikica Kalodera, adapted into Romanian under the title “Our Roads”.

After all, this piece was only a remake of a piece performed by a Yugoslav artist named Miodrag Jevremovic in the 1970s. However, at the time, few people knew that this was not a pure Romanian song, but a “borrowed” one, since the media were not so “on the nose” as in 2022.

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“Dan took the song from a Serbian artist and wrote the lyrics three nights in a row,” the singer’s wife, Sida Spătaru, said at one point.

In spite of this, in 2004, Dan Spătaru’s version, although not at all original and not even very Romanian (in terms of the melodic line), was named “The most beautiful Romanian song of all time”.

There have even been a few timid accusations of plagiarism, but the Romanian artist’s wife has refuted them: “It’s stupid, stupid to say something like that. If you take the album you will see that it clearly says that the song, the musical composition, was taken from Serbian folklore and only the lyrics were written by Dan. He wasn’t even a composer and couldn’t have composed! Yes, it’s true that he wrote the lyrics,” she said.

In fact, Dan Spătaru has never claimed that the song was composed by him, and the blame for the aforementioned homage does not belong to him, but to those who did not do their homework before putting such a label on the song that “tore Romania in two”.

So, never has “this song is a hit, Dan Spătaru didn’t die” been more fitting, according to the duo Boier Bibescu and Don Baxter.

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