Plastic People of the Universe loses its leader

Plastic People of the Universe loses its leader


norman lebrecht

November 13, 2011

Ivan Martin Jirous, known as ‘Magor’ (or ‘Loony’) was artistic director of a psychedelic rock group that challenged Czech communism. An art historian by training, he was jailed in 1973 for singing an anti-Russian song in a pub and eating a chunk of an official newspaper. The gestures may have seemed futile but they kindled hope in a silent generation.

Magor’s death has been announced in Prague, aged 67. Vaclav Havel, a close friend, said ‘I am glad he lived to see better times, for which he contributed a lot.’

Plastic People of the Universe were the unseen heroes of the 2006 Tom Stoppard play, Rock n Roll. When the play transferred to Prague’s National Theatre in February 2007, the original group was reconstituted to give live performances of the opening and closing songs.



  • Grant Barnes says:

    R.I.P. to a man who dared to be “plastic” to stand up to a government that believed itself to be steel and proved to the world that it was more brittle than the plastic people of the world. Thank you for posting the picture with Ivan and Vaclav. During the mid-1970’s the British Council helped give hope to the Czech people, for which I, merely a person of the world and not a proud Czech or visionary rock musician, am ever thankful.