Valery Obodzinsky

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Valery Vladimirovich Obodzinsky (Валерий Владимирович Ободзинский)
Obodzinskii-cropped.jpg
Birth Date:
24 January 1942
Birth Place:
Odessa, Ukraine
Death Date:
26 April 1997
Death Placee:
Moscow, Russia
Known For:
Extraordinarily fascinated with vodka
Occupation:
singer (tenor)
Religion:
Russian Orthodox
Spouse:
Nelya Kravtsova (m. 1961-79); Anna Yesenina (?-1997)

“My father and mother were Russian, and I am a Jew!”

~ Valery Obodzinsky on his uncertain ethnicity

“How much vodka can I get for this fine watch?”

~ Valery, desperate for a drink

Valery Vladimirovich Obodzinsky (Russian: Валерий Владимирович Ободзинский; Polish: Walery Obodzinski) was a Soviet singer, son of a Polish father and a Ukrainian mother, yet somehow mistaken for a Jew. To this day, nobody knows how that got started. He had a curious habit of going onstage drunk as a brick, which predictably made his performance awful. Yet still, all the girls in Russia tolerated this behavior, because his beautiful voice made them all wet even when he was trashed.

Early life[edit]

Walery Obodzinski was born 24 January 1942, in Odessa, Ukraine, during the Nazi occupation. Clearly, the Nazis did not think he was a Jew, or maybe they didn't notice because of his obviously Polish face. In any case, during the years he was supposed to be in school, he was actually playing hooky at the sea-shore with his friends, a gang of small-time thieves. The young Valery would distract the potential victims with his beautiful voice, accompanying himself on the bass,[1] while his friends would wander amongst the crowd that formed, pickpocketing all the while. With their loot, Valery and his friends would often purchase alcohol, because they really didn't have anything better to do. By the time he was 15, Valery was a full-fledged alcoholic.[2]

Career[edit]

He got his big break in 1964, when he began to work in the orchestra of Oleg Lundstrem. This was wonderful, since nobody else wanted to work with him, citing his humble origins and that he "sings like a queer". He turned out to be a great success, but this embarrassed the government so much that they refused to award him as "Honored Artist of the USSR", so instead they honored him for the Mari ASSR.[3] Where is that place, anyway? That was exactly the point.

Around this time, Russians somehow got the idea that Obodzinsky was a Jew. This just added to the previously mentioned classist prejudice, to the point that on one occasion, when he was going to do a New Year's special, the director of this show said, "Remove Alexander Gradsky's segment!"[4] To which some guy replied: "That's not Gradsky, sir. That's Valery Obodzinsky." So the antisemitic director, furious, now requested: "That's an even better reason to remove it! We don't need another Kobzon."[5] Hence Valery's joke about his putative Jewishness, up at the top of this page. Presumably, he was so smashed that people could assume him to be a Negro, an Arab, or even a Chinese for all he cared, as long as they came to hear him sing. Or not sing, as was usually the case.

His behavior onstage was quite the spectacle. The Communist Party did not like that he sang mostly about love for the ladies, thinking this a vulgarity (although the ladies enjoyed this very much). And, since he was often intoxicated when performing, his "stage presence" was accordingly disorganized; during one presentation in the mid-60s, he actually fell into the orchestra pit! From that moment, and with the encouragement of his wife Nelya, Valery became clean. This lasted a surprisingly long time...

Drink[edit]

...until 1976, when he started working with Yefim Alov, a well-known drunkard/drug addict, widely renowned as "the Jew who could out-drink any Russian". Alov was often known to say to Obodzinsky, "The day I persuade you to drink vodka shall be the happiest day of my life."[6] That day came awfully quickly, despite the protestations of Nelya. It got so bad that, having lost interest in anything but booze, Valery was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, under the false name of "PussyMaster McTitsLicker". [7] Perhaps this did not work too well, as he continued to drink, until he simply stopped performing sometime in the 1980s, and became a hobo, wandering the streets with a stray dog he adopted and named "Fila".

“I just wanted to be a simple peasant! Leave me alone, I don't want to sing anymore! I just want to walk my dog! God told me I am a saint!”

~ Obodzinsky hitting rock-bottom

“Who are you talking to? Nobody's there.”

~ Fila on the quote above

The comeback[edit]

Around 1994, Valery Obodzinsky was finally rediscovered after years of being a lost sinner. Somehow, someone persuaded him to restart his career. So he did, and the girls once again wet themselves from the beauty of his voice. Even though it was probably lip-synch. Because there is no fucking way he would have been able to sing after all he did to his body. Suspension of disbelief reigned supreme.

Personal life[edit]

In 1961, Valery Obodzinsky married Nelya Kravtsova, daughter of a ship captain. She gave him two daughters, Angela and Valeria. He loved his daughters very much, to the point that during his greatest moment of fame, he recorded a song about one of them, obviously called "Angela", which gives the impression of an over-dramatic version of Stevie Wonder's "Isn't she lovely".

Of course, given his entirely unwarranted reputation for attractiveness, it was clear that this marriage was not going to last. During the 1970s, a certain young fan was bringing him flowers every time she went to his performances, and he ended up committing adultery with her, which caused his divorce in 1979. This fan was Anna Yesenina, and she was so desperate to attend his shows that she actually did "ticket scalping" just to assure herself a seat. Well, at some point in the 90s, she was finally caught at her dishonesty, and so Valery left her and returned to Nelya. Why did she take him back? No one will ever know. Asked by a friend about his conjugal life at that moment, he simply said, "Well, you can't put a broken pot back together. Now would you please be a good friend and hand me that vodka?"

Angela Obodzinskaya[8] is currently a singer. She isn't very good,[9] and might even have the same problems as her dad, but that's all right. Mediocrity seems to be a family tradition, given the existence of a fellow named Alexander Obodzinsky, alleged to be Valery's nephew.[10]

It would appear that Valeria Obodzinskaya just minds her own business, as nobody, not even the KGB, seems to be interested in anything that's going on with her.

Death[edit]

Valery Obodzinsky died 26 April 1997, aged 55. He never did find out if he was a Jew.

“He lived like a sinner, but died like a saint. If someone dies on Easter, their sins are washed away.”

~ a priest on this fortuitous coincidence

Notes[edit]

  1. See? The bass can be a sexy instrument
  2. Here is a clip from a movie (1959) in which 17-year-old Valery makes a cameo. He's the handsome blondie in the pinstriped black shirt, enjoying the singing and dancing ladies.
  3. Wonder why they didn't honor him for Chechnia, hehe
  4. To be fair, Alexander Gradsky really does suck ass
  5. For those who don't know, Joseph Kobzon (b. 1938) actually is a Jew. Very talented baritone. Still very active in music, and moonlights as a Member of Parliament. Known for opening up relations between USSR and Israel.
  6. What a sociopathic asshole!
  7. OK, not really
  8. Wait, why isn't it "Obodzinska"? Is everyone just going to forget that this is a Polish name?
  9. Oh god, it's almost as if she's stringing random notes together
  10. Honestly, this guy's entire shtick is in being a poor imitation of his uncle