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Rock Music in the Soviet Union

Group of three Russian samizdat texts on the history of rock, translated by the Soviet rock icon Mike Naumenko, and a cult figure of Leningrad rock fandom Andrei Ponomarenko. From the personal collection of Vladimir Khalikov, a friend and occasional manager of Mike Naumenko and an active member of the rock samizdat scene.

Carr, Roy and Mike Naumenko (translator). Istoriia Rolling Stounz v plastinkakh [The Rolling Stones: An Illustrated Record, originally published 1976]. Leningrad: self-published, [1978–1985?]. Quarto (30 × 21 cm). Blue and red cloth over boards, multicolored lettering to spine and front wrapper. With 132 hand-numbered leaves of mimeographed typescript to rectos and versos and 27 unnumbered leaves of collaged illustrations and text. Includes numerous hand-written additions filled in by Mike Naumenko, most in English. Designed, typed, and bound by Vladimir Khalikov. One of six copies.

Marsh, David and Kevin Stein, with Mike Naumenko (translator). Spravochnik rok-khokhm. Rok-spiski. 1984 [The Book of Rock Lists, originally published 1981]. Leningrad: self-published, [1984–1989?]. Quarto (30 × 20 cm). Blue and red cloth over boards, with lettering to spine and front wrapper. With 279 leaves of typescript to rectos only; 9 unnumbered leaves of illustrations. Numerous hand-written additions by Khalikov, in blue ink, most in English. Designed, typed, and bound by Vladimir Khalikov. One of six copies.

Cohn, Nik and Andrei Ponomarenko (translator). Rok s samogo nachala [Rock from the Beginning, originally published in 1969]. Leningrad: self-published, 1977. Quarto (30 × 20 cm). Original green cloth over boards, with engraved metallic plaquettes to front wrapper and 318 hand-numbered leaves of typescript to rectos and versos. With 70 unnumbered leaves of collaged photo-illustrations. Includes a hand-written (likely by Ponomarenko) alphabetical appendix of rock groups mentioned in the text. Translator’s dedication to the typesetter, Aniusha, to frontispiece in red ink. Designed and bound by Vladimir Khalikov. One of six copies.

A group of Russian samizdat translations of classical texts on the history of rock, connected to the development of the Soviet underground rock scene. The Soviet rock icon and founder of the rock group Zoopark, Mike Naumenko, translated two of the texts himself, with “The History of Rolling Stones” containing numerous handwritten additions in his hand. “The Rock Lists” which he translated into Russian as “khokhmy”, ambiguously meaning both “wisdom” and “jokes”, became a classic of the rock fan underground, providing the models of behavior, vocabulary, appearance, and codes of ethics for rock groups such as Kino, Akvarium, DDT, Nautilus Pompilius etc. Both of the Naumenko translations were typed and bound by a collector of American and British rock culture, Vladimir Khalikov. All three volumes come from Khalikov’s personal collection. The last volume, the classic history of rock “Rock from the Beginning” was acquired by Khalikov from its translator, Andrei Ponomarenko, a cult figure of Leningrad rock fandom who worked as a translator at a number of Soviet embassies abroad.

Mikhail “Mike” Naumenko (1955–1991) was a Soviet rock icon, and together with Boris Grebenshchikov (of Akvarium) and Viktor Tsoi (of Kino) one of the key figures of the Leningrad and Soviet rock-n-roll scene. Raised in an intellectual family and fluent in English, Naumenko’s love of music started with an early exposure to The Beatles whose lyrics he translated. His later creative inspiration came from T-Rex and Bob Dylan, whose bluesy style he successfully transposed onto Soviet reality, with many of his songs being close adaptations (such as “Uezdnyi gorod N” an adaptation of Bob Dylan’s “Desolation Row”). Two solo albums and three albums of his group Zoopark were released in his short lifetime, each one obtaining cult status, his songs covered by most later rock bands. In addition to being an artist, Naumenko was an editor and translator, producing at least four full samizdat volumes and numerous notebooks of translated lyrics. Two of the volumes in this collection were translated by Naumenko, whose choice of titles was clearly dictated by his own musical interests and tastes. The manuscripts were typed and bound by his friend (and occasional unofficial manager) Vladimir Khalikov. Khalikov also added the illustrations and collages to the volumes, images which he compiled from a variety of foreign publications smuggled into the Soviet Union by friends from all over the world. A recent biography of Naumenko mentions his samizdat translations of a volume on Mick Jagger and one on Marc Bolan in addition to the “Rock lists” in this collection, with the “Rolling Stones” samizdat seemingly unknown even to his biographer (see Aleksandr Kushnir, “Mike Naumenko: begstvo iz zooparka”, p. 175). Naumenko died under mysterious circumstances at the age of 36, sealing his legacy as a rock legend. His friendship with Viktor Tsoi and the central role of samizdat translations in Soviet rock culture were most recently depicted in Kirill Serebrenikov’s film “Leto” which premiered at Cannes in 2018.

The translation of “Rock from the Beginning” is by Andrey Ponomarenko (1944–2004), a professional translator and seminal figure of Leningrad underground rock fandom. His linguistic abilities and impeccable professional culture led to a post at the Soviet embassy in Algeria, followed by frequent official trips abroad, from which he was able to bring countless music and cultural artifacts to Soviet Russia. His official work allowed him to become one of the top Beatles “ambassadors” in the Soviet Union (together with Nikolai Kozlov and Kolia Vasin, creator of the first Soviet Beatles museum). Today Ponomarenko is best remembered for his 800-page Beatles directory “Bitlz: entsiklopedicheskii slovar’” published in 1996. His state-of-the-art samizdat translations were subsequently used for official editions in post-Soviet Russia, such as his “Serdtsevina iabloka: demifologizirovannaia istoriia The Beatles” (translation of “Apple to the Core. The Unmaking of The Beatles” by McCabe and Schonfeld). The item in this collection was never officially republished, and was preserved by chance. The volume is inscribed by Ponomarenko to one Aniusha, the woman who clandestinely typed the manuscript, to be kept as her personal copy. Because of the personal risk involved in distributing and holding samizdat literature, it is likely that the typist was hesitant to take the volume home, leaving it with Ponomarenko. None of these texts seem to have been translated into Russian officially, with these the only translations to date. As of August 2021, KVK, OCLC show no copies of the present works (but a single copy of a different samizdat edition of “Rock from the Beginning” in North America).

Book ID: 51406

Price: $5,500.00