When I ask you : „Do you know Rangers?“
Your answer will be: „What’s the question? Yes, of course.“
„Yes, who doesn’t know them? New York Rangers, you means, don’t you?“
„No, not them.“
„Ah, you mean Rangers. Texas Rangers, something like cops. Yes I know them too. Or do you mean Elit Force from Vietnam?“
„No, I don’ t mean that Rangers.“
„Really? And which Rangers do you mean?“
„Rangers – country group.“
„Hm, I have never hear about them.“
„Ok, you will hear now.“
They are my most favourite Czech groups. I listened this music from my childlike years and I listen it in spite of dead of its head protagonist (Milan Dufek). To tell the true, this country group is one of them, who help my country style’s life to grow up.
Maybe it’s destiny, but life can be very cruel. Milan dead in accident (meeting with motor sculler).
The beginning of this famous country group was in 1963, the decision to establish the western group. On the zero class on Engineering Faculty, main protagonists met together (Antonín Hájek, Milan Dufek, Petr Fáček). On holidays, they liked to travel on boating together, during day they boated, in the evening they played near campfire.
Hardly anywho country group had so much popularity between public than Rangers. In the first class, new members (Jiří Veisser, Jan Vančura, Miroslav Řihošek) came there. Later group expanded more(Radek Tomášek and Jarka Hadrabová).
Year 1965 and the first concert (in Vinohradská Sokolovňa) and the first honorarium (beer and hot dog)
The most important moment became, when Rangers found songs of american group New Christy Minstrels. This music and music of next four groups (Brothers Four, Kingston Trio, Stoneman’s Family, Seekers) influenced all Rangers’s production.
The first show was in Prague, in student club, next in Cultural House, because there a lot of people came and club hasn’t so high capacity.
Year 1967 was their first Porta – their first win – their first concert in Slovakia, Bratislava. In 1968 they recorded the first but not the last LP desk in Panton (recording studio) and in the next year album The Rangers. There were their most popular songs as Ta zem je tvá zem, Shenandoah, Zvedněte kotvy or Balíček karet. Jarka Hadrabová finished her cooperation (she had some problems with her health).
In 1970 they sold million LP in Czechoslovakia. This situation enabled to have tours in Buenos Aires (1974), on Cuba (1974), Lisabon(1982 – high number of people), country festivals in Polland and Hungary, Mexico(1984), 14 concerts in Sao Paul (1988).
During their existence they had changed name from Rangers to Plavci (Swimmers – direction from political mode in 1971), but popularity didn’t go down. Just conversely, go up. Their popular songs Vím, vím(1970), Pole s bavlnou(1970), Král silnic(1970), Nos pro trable(1971),Teče voda(1971), Láska je věc kouzelná(1971), Kingstontown(1973), Najdi tón(1977), Drak od Bílé skály(1980), Trpasličí svatba(1980) became to traditional folk, they are singing during folk festivals, near campfires, in country restaurants, etc.
Rangers or Plavci were so popular, they had about 300 concerts/year.
Very hard blow came in 1989, Antonín Hájek died (In December 15, after consequence of malign disease).
After change of political situation in Czechoslovakia (1989) group choose its name (Plavci) to original from beginning (Rangers) in 1990.
Actual members from 1990 to 1999:
Milan Dufek – singer, guitar
Jiří Kaleš – singer, guitar
Jan Podjukl . singer, bass guitar
Luboš Řehák – singer, tambourine
Miroslav Řihošek – singer, banjo, acustic guitar
Jiří Veisser – singer, violin
1992 brought record Country show with the legend of country music Dave Dudley.
In 1993 CD The best of Minstrels by Rangers production.
Consecutively, they travelled througth USA and Canada, got platinium desk (sale of 2 millions records), tour in Australia (1997), next platinium desk (CD 21x Rangers – 1998 by Bonton production).
As many other music group, Rangers had their Yoko Ono too, but they outlasted.
Dead of Milan Dufek didn’t mean definite finish of group but finish of main period of it. From this time you can find three country groups with very similar name (Rangers, Rangers Band, New Rangers).
Rangers had shows mainly in Czech republic, but every year we could see them on Country Lodenica in Piešťany. I can tell you, it was one of the most popular presentation in this festival. But it wasn’t that right. The most of original group members are in Rangers Band now (I didn’t know it in Lodenica – my mistake, but they sang original songs and it was perfect to listen them again).
I had happiness to be on their last concert in Bratislava, in 2005, when there were all of their members with Milan Dufek on the head and got their autographs. Everytime, when I listen this music, I’d like to smile and cry in one time. Smile – because it’s very nice music, cry – because original Rangers with Milan Dufek can’t be back. I can never visit their shows anymore. I wish only he could see us from the heaven.
Their songs are still alive and old Rangers (before 2005) will live in many hearts forever.
– original song Today – The New Christy Minstrels
Láska je věc kouzelná (Love is miracle thing)
Mám radost (I’m happy)
Pes suverén (Dog sovereign)
Dej Bože můj (Give me, my God, please)
A já Tě nechci (And I don’t want you anymore)
Vím, vím (I know, I know)
– original song Green Green – The New Christy Minstrels
Kto má právo (Who had a privilege)