Serbian pop singer popular in Balkans dies of coronavirus

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BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Djordje Balasevic, a Serbian singer who remained widely popular throughout the former Yugoslavia after the wars of the 1990s, has died after contracting the new coronavirus, state television reported Friday. He was 67.

Balasevic was admitted to a hospital in the northern Serbian city of Novi Sad three days ago suffering from pneumonia that appeared to be a complication of COVID-19. State broadcaster RTS said he died at the hospital on Friday.

Balasevic launched his career in the late 1970s and early 1980s, first performing in bands before establishing a solo following with his soft pop music and witty lyrics.

When Yugoslavia disintegrated in ethnic warfare in the early 1990s, Balasevic openly opposed the nationalism that fueled the conflicts. Because of his positions, mainstream media in Serbia shunned Balasevic during the war era.

But he remained well-liked throughout the ethnically divided Balkans region after the wars, filling up concert halls in all the countries that emerged from the six former Yugoslav republics. His performances were famous for his on-stage comments on various topics.

Media in Croatia and Bosnia promptly carried the news of Balasevic’s death, which also was widely shared on social networks.

Bosnia’s Klix news portal described Balasevic as a “legendary” performer whose songs could “inspire deepest emotion in an audience.” Croatia’s state HRT television evoked Balasevic’s “utterly antiwar and pacifist position that is present in many songs, concert speeches and interviews.”

Balasevic is survived by his wife and three children. Funeral arrangements were not immediately known.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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