Boris Grebenshchikov in his youth: photo, biography, success story


Boris Grebenshchikov (BG) is a living legend standing at the origins of Russian rock, the idol of millions. The leader of the cult group “Aquarium” saw how the Russian musical community, priorities and authorities changed, but over the decades of creativity he did not lose inspiration.

“What interested me 20, 30, 40 years ago continues to do so now: the spectrum of interest is simply wider. The only thing in which, thank God, I’m losing interest is my own self.”

Childhood and youth

On November 27, 1953, a boy appeared in the family of St. Petersburg intellectuals (an engineer and a lawyer), who years later was destined to become an entire era in the history of Russian culture, a spiritual teacher and the author of songs beloved by millions. Boris grew up in Leningrad, studied at a school with a mathematical bias and from childhood was uncontrollably interested in music.

Boris Grebenshchikov in his youth
Boris Grebenshchikov in his youth / Facebook

After school, Boris entered Leningrad University at the Faculty of Applied Mathematics. But the main thing is that at the same time Grebenshchikov decided to create his own team, “Aquarium”.

School friend Anatoly Gunitsky, who was nicknamed George for his amazing resemblance to Harrison, kept Boris company in long creative searches and rehearsals in the university assembly hall. According to eyewitnesses, the boys turned out to be gifted poets and could not imagine a greater joy in life than writing poetry and melodies, and singing songs.

Brought up on the classics of rock and roll, in love with Marc Bolan, Bob Dylan and The Beatles, the friends initially wrote and sang in English. But soon the guys made a firm decision: to perform songs only in their native language.

Biography of Boris Grebenshchikov

Boris Grebenshchikov (BG) was born on November 27, 1953 in Leningrad. He grew up and was brought up in an educated family.

The artist's father, Boris Alexandrovich, was an engineer and later director of the Baltic Shipping Company plant. Mother, Lyudmila Kharitonovna, worked as a legal adviser at the Leningrad Model House.

Childhood and youth

Grebenshchikov studied at the physics and mathematics school. From early childhood he was very interested in music.

Boris Grebenshchikov in childhood

After graduating from school, Boris became a student at Leningrad University, choosing the department of applied mathematics.

During his student years, the guy set out to create his own group. As a result, in 1972, together with Anatoly Gunitsky, he founded the Aquarium group, which in the future will gain enormous popularity.

Students spent their free time at rehearsals in the university assembly hall. An interesting fact is that initially the guys wrote songs in English, trying to imitate Western artists.

Later, Grebenshchikov and Gunitsky decided to compose songs only in their native language. However, English-language compositions still appeared in their repertoire from time to time.


The first album “Aquarium” was released in samizdat. "The Temptation of the Holy Aquarium" in 1974, critics subsequently called "the first attempt to create conceptual music in the USSR."

At the same time, 2 more people appeared in the lineup - Mikhail Fainstein and Andrei (Dyusha) Romanov. Young people expanded their creative horizons and created a theater group at their home faculty. Feinstein wrote absurd plays, and Romanov and Grebenshchikov happily played in them. One bad thing: the guys got so carried away by drama that they almost forgot about music. The comrades left the team. At the same time, the group was banned from rehearsing at the university, and the leader of the group was threatened with expulsion.

Boris Grebenshchikov and the Aquarium group - “Golden City”

There is only one “warrior” left in the “field” of the “Aquarium” - Grebenshchikov. But Boris did not become despondent: the universe began to slowly but surely bring the singer together with musicians who would remain in the lineup for the next 15 years. The first sign was cellist Vsevolod Gekkel. At the same time, BG wrote true hits, which are still heard at concerts. These years there is absolutely nowhere for the group to rehearse and record songs - everything is very expensive and not approved in the necessary rooms.

Nevertheless, in 1976, Aquarium published the album “From the Other Side of the Mirror Glass,” and in 1978, in the open air, they recorded the disc “Everyone is Brothers and Sisters” as a duet with Mike Naumenko. Since 1981, things got a little more fun: Boris Borisovich began collaborating with the legendary studio of Andrei Tropillo. Such records as “Day of Silver” and “Children of December” were recorded there.

Grebenshchikov did not stop recording compositions, although at that time the vocalist had problems through the roof: after appearing at the Tbilisi rock festival in 1980, Boris was expelled from the Komsomol, fired from his position as a junior researcher and officially banned from performing.

Grebenshchikov was not lost again and got a job as a janitor so as not to become a “parasite.” Boris Borisovich's concerts have turned into apartment events - a format when musicians and listeners gather at home and sing quietly with a guitar so that vigilant neighbors do not call the police.

In 1981, Boris Borisovich became a member of the Leningrad Rock Club. In 1982, Grebenshchikov noticed and produced the first album of Viktor Tsoi and the Kino group. It was thanks to the efforts of BG that the world became acquainted with the songs of the legendary band.

Viktor Tsoi and Boris Grebenshchikov.
1984 Posted by Freedom Truth Rock and Roll on Friday, October 16, 2020

Boris Grebenshchikov and Viktor Tsoi
The 1986 album “Ten Arrows” is dedicated to the tragically deceased group member Alexander Kussul. The album includes the calling card of the group “Golden City” (“Under the Blue Sky”). Contrary to popular belief, the authorship of the track does not belong to Aquarium. There is debate about who first created the melody and who the lyrics. We can definitely say that the verses refer to the Old Testament. The animal images indicate the symbols of the archangels. BG returned to this motif in the song “Eagle, Taurus and Lion”.

After several discs and years, Grebenshchikov nevertheless recorded two English-language records in the USA: Radio Silence and Radio London were released in 1989. At the same time, the singer met foreign rock stars - Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Debbie Harry and Joanna Stingray. The latter contributed greatly to the popularization of Soviet performers in the West.

In 1990, the Aquarium group officially ceased to exist. Grebenshchikov headed the BG-Band, but the project, which was marked by the release of the Russian Album, did not last long - in 1993, Aquarium resumed its activities.

A number of fans note that Boris Borisovich’s work is inextricably linked with Aquarium. Although the team disbanded several times and then reassembled, the essence remains the same. But other fans insist that the works created by BG solo are very different from the works that appeared within the framework of Aquarium.

With perestroika, Grebenshchikov came out of the “underground” onto quite decent stages of clubs, concert halls and stadiums. The albums turned out to be more and more unusual in sound. This was partly explained by the fact that during the same period Boris Borisovich became seriously interested in Buddhism, became a student of Lama Ole Nydahl, and repeatedly visited the ashram of the Indian guru Sai Baba.

Joanna Stingray and Boris Grebenshchikov.
#PeterFM #JoannaStingray #BorisGrebenshchikov Posted by Peter FM 100.9 on Thursday, May 14, 2020

Boris Grebenshchikov and Joanna Stingray
Since the late 90s, their career began a new round. Grebenshchikov deservedly began to be showered with prestigious awards. Among his achievements are not only awards from magazines and radio stations, but also such an insignia as the Order of Merit for the Fatherland, IV degree, for his significant contribution to the development of musical art.

In 2006, Boris Borisovich met another neo-Hindu guru - Sri Chinmoy, who gave the singer the name Purushottama. A new acquaintance helped organize Grebenshchikov’s performances in London, at the Albert Hall. In 2007, the vocalist even played a solo concert at the UN.

In 2008, there was a persistent rumor that Aquarium was finally ceasing to exist. The gossip turned out to be a newspaper duck - the group only once again updated its lineup and turned into Aquarium International, taking on the Irish flutist Brian Finnegan.

In 2014, Boris Borisovich presented his solo album “Salt” to music lovers. Music critic Artemy Troitsky called the record Grebenshchikov’s best creation. The collection included the song “I came to drink water,” for which a video was soon shot.

Grebenshchikov's creativity is distinguished by the breadth of genres, styles and directions, as well as the use of unusual and sometimes exotic instruments. In an interview, Boris Borisovich said that he would write lyrics exclusively on Celtic motifs, like “Glass” (“Come on, swords, glasses on the table”), because this music is beautiful and lively, which cannot be said about Russian folk melodies.

Boris Grebenshchikov and the Aquarium group - “Get Out, Babylon”

In 2021, the next solo album, “Time N,” was released. The record turned out to be harsh, with the presence of profanity. “After the masterpiece “Salt,” it seemed that a decline should follow, but that was not the case! “Time N” is an even more honest, evil and poignant record in a good way, accurately reflecting our time,” wrote a journalist from the InRock portal.

In January 2021, Grebenshchikov presented a new video on his YouTube channel, “Get Out, Babylon,” which collected 600 thousand views in the first 3 days. The St. Petersburg boys' choir participated in the recording of the composition. A month later, Boris Borisovich released his 3rd solo album, “Sign of Fire,” and at the end of the year he recorded a record with “Aquarium,” which was called “Thor.”

The theme of borrowing runs through BG’s work as a common thread. Grebenshchikov's critics emphasize that the roots of the lion's share of the rocker's melodies and poems grow from Western music.

Apartments and festivals from BG

Banned by censorship, the “aquarium players” could not perform in front of a large audience, so in the seventies they were limited to the acoustic format of performances, which was the apartment format at that time. Mostly the songs were played from the samizdat album “Acoustics”, which by that time had spread throughout the USSR.

In the 70s, “Aquarium” could only be heard live at apartment complexes

In the 70s, “Aquarium” could only be heard live at apartment complexes

For a couple of years, Grebenshchikov was involved in publishing the rock music magazine “Roxy”, and then in 1980 “Aquarium” went to its first official rock festival “Spring Rhythms”, held in Tbilisi. And immediately a scandal. Grebenshchikov and the group were accused of promoting incest. “Aquarium” at Spring Rhythms in Tbilisi, 1980. And the whole point was the bad speakers, from which instead of the words “marry a Finn,” the audience heard “marry your son.” In addition, instead of the stated songs, the group performed “Heroes”, “Piece of Life”, “Minus 30”. The jury left the hall immediately and in full force, the group was again denied room for rehearsals, and Boris, as soon as he arrived in Leningrad, was expelled from the Komsomol. Later he will say: In general, the 80s became significant for the group. Thanks to his acquaintance with Andrei Tropillo, in 1981 the Blue Album, the first studio album of Aquarium, was recorded. In the same year, the group became a member of the first Leningrad rock club, got the opportunity to constantly give concerts and was even invited to participate in the first Leningrad rock festival with the terribly serious title “The first city review-competition of amateur rock bands of Leningrad for the best performance of anti-war songs under motto “For anti-imperialist solidarity, peace and friendship!”

BG at the first exhibition "Mitkov" (1985)

BG at the first exhibition "Mitkov" (1985)

Soon the group began to collaborate with a prominent representative of the underground, Sergei Kuryokhin. Grebenshchikov appeared with “Two Tractor Drivers” on the television broadcast of “Jolly Fellows”, on the “Musical Ring” and in other projects.

Attic of Boris Grebenshchikov, 1985

Attic of Boris Grebenshchikov, 1985

In 1982, BG became the producer of the first album of Viktor Tsoi and the Kino group. A few years later he recorded two English-language discs: “Radio Silence” and “Radio London”. In America, he enthusiastically communicated with David Bowie, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop. Concert “Dialogue” Perestroika and glasnost made it possible to gather concert halls and stadiums, release new albums that were unusual in sound and style, and write music for films. The film “Assa” by Sergei Solovyov, which later became a cult film, was released and it featured “Golden City” performed by BG, a song that became Grebenshchikov’s calling card. Aquarium - City of Gold Interesting fact: the poem “Paradise” by Henri Volkhonsky begins with the words “Above the blue sky” and it really talks about Eden. Grebenshchikov “moved” paradise “under the blue sky” and Henri explained it as follows:

Theater and films

The music of the Aquarium group can be heard in dozens of films. The film “Assa” was generally remembered by the audience for its rock hits. But the action drama "Priest-San", in which Boris Borisovich acted as a composer, was rather attracted by the appearance of Ivan Okhlobystin as a screenwriter and actor.

Since 1981, BG himself has been performing as an artist in theatrical productions and films. As a rule, Grebenshchikov appeared on screen in episodes, but in the parody surreal film “Two Captains - 2” he worked in the foreground.

In 2013, on the occasion of Boris Borisovich’s anniversary, the St. Petersburg Variety Show staged a musical based on the songs of Grebenshchikov and Aquarium, “Music of Silver Knitting Needles.” In an interview, the hero of the occasion shared that the idea seemed intriguing, and BG has no complaints about the use of compositions.

Radio and television

During the era of apartment dwellers, Grebenshchikov made acquaintance with the Leningrad avant-garde artist Sergei Kuryokhin, with whose help he appeared in the “Jolly Fellows” program. After this, invitations to television came to the singer more and more often.

Boris Grebenshchikov - “I came to drink water”

Some trips to TV ended in funny things. In 2002, Boris Borisovich, at the end of the show “Night Shift,” performed the composition “Help” without censorship, which greatly embarrassed TV presenter Dmitry Dibrov. Fortunately, the broadcast was broadcast at a late time, and there was hope that the children did not see the program.

From 2005 to the present day, Boris Borisovich has been hosting his own program “Aerostat” on Radio Russia. The program enjoys continued popularity among the general public. In the project, the leader of Aquarium freely raised issues of interest, talked about little-known foreign groups and played the best, in his opinion, music.

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Grebenshchikov created a number of works in prose, the main of which are the story “The Forest” and the story “Ivan and Danilo”. In addition, he took part in writing the collection “The Book for Which Writers United, Whose It Is Impossible to Unite,” United. He is the author of translations of several Buddhist and Hindu treatises, including the Bhagavad Gita (Divine Song).

Among the works of Boris Borisovich is the guidebook “Sacred Places of India”. In the annotation, Grebenshchikov admitted that he often received requests to talk about the mystical side of the eastern country. Friends asked where the real Indian fairy tale was, and not tourist window dressing. BG personally visited the cities he described.

Boris Grebenshchikov.
Peter, 1985. Posted by Evgeniy Gavrov on Monday, November 30, 2015

Boris Grebenshchikov without glasses
Every long-time fan of BG and Aquarium has at least once in his life held in his hands or seen on the Internet the 12-page book “Two Poems about Apartment Number Six,” decorated with funny pictures. Fans call the work immortal, and those who are not too fond of Russian rock note Grebenshchikov’s poetic talent. On the Book Guide website the rating was 8 out of 10.

Anatoly George Gunitsky also became interested in writing and published the monograph “Caution! “Aquarium!” is playing,” which contains interviews and memories of the musicians, as well as previously unpublished photos, including the leader of the band in his youth.

Public position

For the famous rocker, “freedom” is not an empty word. Boris Borisovich, in a conversation with journalists, scolded the Soviet leaders Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin precisely for repression. Grebenshchikov advocated the reburial of both. In addition, BG has repeatedly participated in the actions of Amnesty International, a movement that fights for the rights of people, mainly political prisoners.

In 2014, the musician performed Alexander Vertinsky’s romance “What I Must Say” in memory of those killed on Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Ukraine. Then, together with colleagues (Maxim Leonidov, Vyacheslav Butusov and Yuri Shevchuk), he recorded a concert for the “1+1” channel, dedicated to anti-war themes.

Posted by Photo booth “Smiling Together” on Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Boris Grebenshchikov and Lyubov Tolkalina

Boris Borisovich fights not only for freedom, but also for truth. A track written about TV presenters working “to order” and hiding the truth from viewers gained popularity. BG called the composition “Evening M”.

In 2021, Grebenshchikov also did not remain aloof from the events taking place in the world. Boris Borisovich signed an open letter in support of protesters in Belarus. And in November he called on UNESCO to include the architectural Christian monuments of Nagorno-Karabakh on the World Heritage List in order to protect the buildings and residents of nearby settlements from military action.

Grebenshchikov Boris Borisovich - biography

The future rock musician was born into the family of an engineer, director of the pilot plant of the Baltic Shipping Company, Boris Alexandrovich, and legal adviser of the Leningrad Model House, Lyudmila Kharitonovna. Boris spent his childhood in Leningrad, where he graduated from school No. 239 with a focus in physics and mathematics. At an early age, the boy became interested in music and, with the help of his grandmother, who showed him the first chords, he learned to play the guitar.

After graduating from school, Grebenshchikov entered the Zhdanov Leningrad State University at the Faculty of Applied Mathematics - Control Processes. He graduated from his studies in 1977, after which he went to work at the Research Institute of Sociology. In parallel with his work, Boris is engaged in music and writes songs for the Aquarium group, founded in 1972. Musical activities are accompanied by concerts and collaboration with the experimental student theater of Leningrad State University.

In 1967, Boris joined the Komsomol. However, he is only formally listed in the organization, but has been a member for thirteen years. In March 1980, the Aquarium group performs at a rock festival in Tbilisi, and the concert ends in a scandal that is ridiculous in modern times (the musicians are accused of promoting non-traditional sexual relationships for their non-standard behavior on stage). After his speech, Grebenshchikov was expelled from the Komsomol, and also removed from his post as a junior researcher at a research institute.

Boris Grebenshchikov – Aquarium

Expulsion from the Komsomol and the loss of his official job give Boris the opportunity to focus on creativity and develop the Aquarium group, which he founded with Anatoly “George” Gunitsky in 1972. Until the early 80s, the team was known only in narrow circles. The group's popularity skyrocketed after their performance at a festival in Tbilisi.

Boris Grebenshchikov is the author of the vast majority of songs from the repertoire of the Aquarium group. He also determines the sound of the band and is actually its face. Over the decades of the team’s existence, dozens of musicians have played in it, but the name of the group is associated specifically with BG.

The creative history of Aquarium is usually divided into stages. The first of them lasted from 1971 to 1991. Boris considered that the time had come for change and disbanded the group, but already in 1992 he reassembled it with new musicians. The next stage of development ended in 1997. The next updated line-up of the group appeared in 1999 and ended in 2015 with the death of keyboardist and arranger Boris Rubekin. The beginning of 2021 was marked by the search for the sound of “version 4.0”.

Boris Grebenshchikov - work in America

In the late 80s, Boris Grebenshchikov received an offer of cooperation from the American company CBS. The contract implies the recording of several albums with the participation of Western musicians and sound producers. BG writes songs for these records in English, and begins recording material in the spring of 1988.

In May 1989, the album “Radio Silence” was released, produced by Dave Stewart. The process of working on the disc is filmed. Later, these shootings will form the basis of the documentary film “Long Way Home”, published on DVD by the Moscow publishing house “Otdeleniye Vokhod”.

After the release of “Radio Silence”, Boris began work on his second English-language album, but failed to complete the job. At Grebenshchikov's request, CBS rented a studio and apartment for him in London, where he worked on the songs. The musician wanted to include Ray Cooper and George Harrison in the recording, but the publisher insisted on other candidates. In 1990, CBS was purchased by Sony, which allowed BG to terminate the contract, the terms of which no longer fully satisfied him, and return to Russia.

The rough recordings, made in 1990-1991 in London, were published only in 1996. The album received the symbolic name “Radio London”. However, Grebenshchikov's English-language albums were not very successful.

BG-band – Grebenshchikov in the early 90s

In parallel with the activities of Aquarium, Boris Grebenshchikov recorded solo albums and also took part in various musical projects. As a rule, a musician’s solo activity developed during the period of the collapse of the next version of the band he led. The most famous project was the BG-Band, which existed in the early 90s, founded upon the return of Boris Borisovich from America and Great Britain.

The work of the “BG-band” period is usually called Grebenshchikov’s “Russian period”. He himself said that these songs were inspired by the work of Alexander Bashlachev, who tragically died in February 1988. As part of the “BG-Band” project, the “Russian Album” was recorded, which was also included in the official discography of “Aquarium,” and a concert double, “Letters from Captain Voronin,” was published, the basis for which was the recording of the concert in Vyatka.

Grebenshchikov’s creativity during the “BG-band” period was reflected in the documentary film by Alexander Lipnitsky “40:0 in favor of BG”. This picture reflects the period of work on the “Russian Album”, echoes of which can be heard on the “Aquarium” records “Kostroma Mon Amour” and “Navigator”. The film was released on DVD. As additional materials, the publisher added a video of a performance in Gzhel in 1992.

Boris Grebenshchikov - solo albums

In 1994, Boris Grebenshchikov released an album of romances by Alexander Vertinsky. In 1996, while working at Aquarium, the musician recorded a record of folk songs called Chubchik. Later, he repeatedly spoke about the desire to make a sequel to the album, but the idea has not yet been realized. In 1999, BG recorded an album of songs by Bulat Okudzhava.

In 1997, after the dissolution of the next composition of Aquarium, Boris Grebenshchikov recorded the album Lilith. Musicians from The Band help him create arrangements. BG is recording his next solo album with the help of musicians from the groups Jethro Tull, Oasis and other stars of world music. The album is called “Salt” and is released in 2014.

Listen to songs by Boris Grebenshchikov

Personal life

In 1976, Boris Borisovich married Natalya Kozlovskaya. After 4 years, the couple divorced, leaving behind a daughter - the now sought-after Russian actress and TV presenter Alisa Grebenshchikova, who in 2008 gave her father a grandson, Alexei.

The singer married for the second time in 1980 with the artist Lyudmila Shurygina, previously the former common-law wife of Vsevolod Haeckel. On December 14, 1984, a boy, Gleb, was born into the family, today known as DJ Gebe and Dr. Grasshopper. Gleb’s daughter’s name, like her sister’s, is Alisa Grebenshchikova.

Posted by All about cinema and music on Monday, December 14, 2020

Boris Grebenshchikov and his wife Irina

In 1989, Boris Borisovich walked down the aisle with Irina Titova, the ex-wife of Aquarium bass player Alexander Titov. From her previous marriage, Irina has two children - Mark and Vasilisa, whom Grebenshchikov raised as his own. Mark Titov plays in several bands, writes electronic music under the pseudonym Bio C. Vasilisa Grebenshchikova is an artist.

Favorite women of the musician

Grebenshchikov lived with his first wife Natalya Kozlovskaya for four years. In their marriage, they had a daughter, Alice, who became a sought-after artist. Boris's next relationship was with artist Lyudmila Shulgina. It is worth noting that before BG the girl lived with Vsevolod Gekkel.

Soon Boris Grebenshchikov became a father for the second time, and the boy Gleb was born. In 1991, Grebenshchikov legalized his relationship with Irina Titova , who already had two children of her own: Vasilisa and Mark. Boris adopted Vasilisa in order to become even closer to her and the child’s inner world. Now the girl is still engaged in painting.

Boris Grebenshchikov now

Now Boris Borisovich is bursting with creative energy and continues to give concerts. On May 23, 2021, a sold-out performance took place at Olimpiysky, where Aquarium presented tracks from the new album.

On the same day, a recording of an online event held in Kyiv appeared on the Facebook page of the Chabad Lubavitch Jewish community. The joint performance with Andrei Makarevich is aimed at supporting Jews in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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A post shared by Boris Grebenshchikov (@bgrebenshikov)

Boris Grebenshchikov now
On May 27, the long-awaited premiere of the album “Tribute” took place. The album includes remixes by Boris Grebenshchikov to compositions by celebrity friends, including Viktor Tsoi and Pyotr Mamonov.

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  • 1981 - “...Ivanov”
  • 1992 — “Over Dark Water”
  • 1992 — “Two Captains 2”
  • 2009 — “Rockers”


  • 1988 — “Thirst”
  • 1988 — “Rock”
  • 1990 — “City”
  • 1990 — “Yoly-paly, or Mitki in Europe”
  • 1992 - “Mitki don’t want to defeat anyone, or Mitkimayer”
  • 1993 - “Two Captains - 2”
  • 1994 - “The Story of a Miracle from a Miracle”
  • 2006 — “Communication”
  • 2010 — “Golden Ratio”
  • 2012 — “Dance of Delhi”
  • 2015 — “Priest-San”
  • 2019 — “Dark as Night”
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