Peter, Hanca’s departure must have hit you hard. When did you hear the painful news?
“I know that exactly. I had a concert on Zemi zhivitelka in České Budějovice that Friday at noon. I was driving in the car and Karel Vágner called me at eleven thirty-five minutes. I know exactly because I was just looking at my watch to see if I could make it. I was speechless when he told me. Suddenly I didn’t know where or why I was. It was like a bolt from the blue.”
Have you given up on performing?
“No way. Pepa Vágner was performing in front of me, who of course knew it from his dad, so the organizers knew it too. They came to me and said – look, we know what happened, turn it around and go home, we understand and we will pay you… I thought for a moment and suddenly I hear Hank from up there saying to me – look delete stage, it is your duty to the people! She was right. So I drugged myself up and went.”
And were you able to sing?
“People welcomed me and I tell them – something happened that touches me deeply, so I don’t know if I will be able to sing what happened, I can’t tell you, I’m not authorized to do that, but soon you will probably find out from the media. .And I sang, and I confess that I don’t know how I sang it at all. I kept thinking about the fact that a piece of my life was gone.’
How long have you and Hanka performed together?
“Twenty-six years. Six years in the eighties, then we had a break of almost twenty years, and then from the year two thousand until today we were together again. Yesterday I dug out the old diaries and calculated that Hanka and I had exactly 2016 concerts together.”
How did fate bring you together in the first place?
“Karel Vágner was behind everything. Sometime in the deep past he accompanied Eva Pilarová with the band, his guitarist dropped out and he found me as a stand-in. Then he told me – man, you also sing well, I’ll definitely get back to you… And two years later, in October 1975, I just had twins, he came to see me in Podolí and from the car window he said to me – so I’m marrying you ! And I was at Vágner’s.
Pieta for Zagorová, long queues, hundreds of flowers! A twist in the case of Mlejnek and Gorbachev he died
Well, in November, Hanka and the conductor Josef Vobruba filmed ABBA’s Honey, Honey as Asi, asi, and Vobruba chose me for the male part on Vágner’s recommendation. When we were recording it in the studio, and I’ll never forget it, Vágner started shouting – he’s having twins! He messed up the first track, so it had to be repeated. Well, in three days Hanka and I were already in Asia, probably shooting a clip in Liberec. I’ll never forget that either, because it was freezing and we were terribly cold.’
How many duets have you sung with Hanka and which is your favorite?
“We have six duets. Rainbow Fairy, That Mouth is Yours, About, About, Questionnaire, No Overtaking and Christmas Mystery. My favorite of them is probably the Kiss sung by Suzi Quatro with Chris Norman from Smokie. I discovered that song then and I was very proud of it. I immediately flew to Vágner that we had to do this. Pavel Žák wrote the lyrics and a hit was born. The lyricist Pavel Žák, who also composed music brilliantly, was the alpha and omega for me and Hanka. He was a genius who could write lyrics overnight. He even presented us with three versions of it for us to choose from.”
When was the last time you saw each other?
“A year ago on the second of August in the rehearsal room of Jirka Dvořák from Boom!Band. We had a fall tour planned. Hanka had already recovered from covid, but she did not look well at all. She was also mad, and when she found out in the rehearsal room that she couldn’t sing, that it was just not good, I felt so sorry for her. She was extremely unhappy about it. The audience, the stage, that was her life. She then collapsed in October, was in hospital and the tour never took place again.
Karel Vágner broke down when saying goodbye to Zagorová: I’m completely screwed
Back then, in that rehearsal room, it never occurred to me for a second that we might never meet again. But it was so. After that we only talked on the phone and the last contact we had was via text message about a month ago. I was walking down the street in Vodňany and someone said to me – say hello to Hanka, may she get well soon and sing with you again! I wrote it to her, I thought it would make Hance happy. And she wrote back her “Thank you!!!” And then she didn’t even text me anymore, then she died for me.”