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ROBERT GAWLIŃSKI was born in Warsaw on 31 August 1963. This self-assured only son grew up in Grochów and was singlehandedly raised by his mother who, even today, crops up in the lyrics of his songs. Robert's music journey began at the age of three, at which time his repertoire comprised operatic works and Jeremy Stępowski songs. Only his family listened to these early performances but it wasn't long before, aged seven, he began to appear in a variety of music competitions. It was during one of these that he came to the attention of Zofia Raciborska, one of the most popular TV personalities of the day, who went to his performances with Teresa Niewiarowska. Robert started taking private singing lessons from pre-war prima donna, Prof. Helena Korff-Kawecka.

He got into playing real rock, however, when he turned 17 and joined GNIEW[1]. The line-up included Michał Rollinger (Closterkeller, ex-Wilki) and Robert was the group's lead singer and bass player. The next outfit in which Robert sang was NIEUSTRASZENI POGROMCY WAMPIRÓW[2]. The group made a demo tape but that didn't get it into the Jarocin Festival.

The real turning point in Robert's musical career came when the group MADAME invited him onboard as their singer. The group was formed on New Year's Eve 1982 and the original line-up comprised Robert Gawliński on vocals, Jacek ‘Perkoz' Perkowski on guitar, Krzysztof Dominik on percussion (Krzysztof now manages the group Hey) and Piotr ‘Józek' Jóźwiak on bass. Once Robert Sadowski took over from Perkoz in 1983, the group began to have two leaders - Sadowski and Gawliński. One wrote amazing compositions while the other penned moving, visionary lyrics. This collaboration catapulted the band to the forefront of the then underground scene before artistic and personal differences brought it to an end.

But before all this happened, MADAME qualified for Jarocin 84 and appeared on a day entitled "Will Pop Eat Us"? This appearance, despite some initial misgivings from the skinheads in the mosh pit, ended up a winner and opened the door to the musical circle of opinion maker Walter Chełstowski, who managed and produced many Jarocin bands at the time. Apart from Madame, Aya RL, Made In Poland, Siekiera, Variete and Moskwa all worked with Walter.

Madame came to the attention of Piotr Kaczkowski and Trójka[3] broadcast "Największa Orkiestra Świata"[4] from the Jarocin concert. The single "Może Właśnie Sybilla"[5], recorded on the Tonpress label, reached seventh spot on the Trójka Top 100 while "Gdyby Nie Szerszenie"[6] made it to second position. "Sybilla" is accompanied by a music video made by Grzegorz Płocha.

MADAME changed its image and moved towards a darker, heavier, cold wave sound. Invitations to work the clubs and play at big festivals like FAMA and Jarocin 85 came more and more frequently. This last concert was recorded and an excerpt was used in Piotr Łazarkiewicz's film Fala[7]. These concerts come across as an uncanny mystery and give the impression that the group is in its own inner world with the audience listening as if in a trance. The vibe is amazing. MADAME were at the peak of their form and in hot demand. They were rehearsing seven times a week at the Stodoła club and practising in the dark to better feel the music. Unfortunately, the group slowly began to come apart when Sadowski's destructive nature led the rhythm section to walk out.

Gawliński and Sadowski invited bassist Leszek Biolik and percussionist Sławek Słociński to join. MADAME started rehearsing regularly but this line-up did not give a single concert. They did, however, make a video for the song "Krawat Powieszony w Łaźni"[8] ("Krawat Majakowskiego"), which BBC TV produced for the film My Blood, Your Blood.


Leszek was replaced by Tomek "Kciuk"[9] Jaworski. Two concerts featuring this line-up were recorded at the Riviera and Remont clubs in Warsaw on 3-4 October 1985. Unfortunately, Rogot did not put the album out due to financial problems and legal shortcomings in the contract. It only came out in 1999.

In 1985, Robert was hailed as one of Poland's top ten vocalists and Madame came first in the Polish groups plebiscite, ahead of acts like Kat, Kult, Variete, Aya RL and Lech Janerka.

Madame officially disbanded in the spring of 1986. The Gawliński, Sadowski, Biolik and Hajdasz line-up met on 31 August 1995 - Robert's birthday - at a concert promoting the album Solo and played "Sybilla", "Szerszenie" and "Kroki".

Marek Jackowski invited Robert to work with him after the demise of Madame. Robert and his girlfriend Monika moved in with Marek for a while to rehearse and put a band together. They played one concert at Warsaw's Gwardia Hall with Majonez on drums (later in Kult) and Tony Maimone on bass (ex-Pere Ubu). They had recorded material ready on disk and RCA was interested in releasing it. However, Kora decided to reactivate Maanam and Robert put an end to his collaboration with Marek at the end of 1986.

The next musical instalment involved working with the group MADE IN POLAND. Robert moved in with a bassist in Cracow and they prepared material for an album. They composed and arranged seven songs but the lack of a manager and anyone seriously wanting to get involved in the project prevented the album from ever seeing daylight.

Robert spent a lot of time at the Stodoła club where he met Zbyszek Hołdys. The founder and leader of Perfect took his young associate under his wing, and Robert and Monika lived in Hołdys's flat where they all jammed together, just as they had done earlier with Marek Jackowski. This was more a musical coming together of two friends and did not lead to any recordings. On 24 September 1987, Hołdys was best man at Monika and Robert's wedding.