Boris Grebenshikov (also known as B.G.) is famously quoted as saying that, in the over 30-year history of his group, Aquarium, if someone was interested in playing with him, then the resulting band would be Aquarium. It follows that Aquarium have had the most fluid and diverse of lineups starting in 1972, playing all kinds of music under all kinds of circumstances. As a result, the history of Grebenshikov and Aquarium reads like a history of Russian rock & roll, of which the bandleader is the most widely acknowledged forefather.
Together with childhood friend Anatolii Gunitskii, Grebenshikov formed the group in Leningrad, U.S.S.R. (now St. Petersburg, Russia) in 1972 before any kind of thaw had occurred in Soviet politics. The two musicians were lost at sea with no land in sight, so to speak, as far as getting any getting approval from the Soviet administration, who saw rock music as directly contradicting the system. Aquarium's pioneer members included Grebenshikov on vocals and guitar; Gunitskii on drums; Andrei Romanov on guitar, keyboards, violin, and flute; and Michail Fainstein-Vasiliev on bass, keyboards, and percussion. The group's first recording was a crude 1973 cassette tape called Iskushenies Svyatovo Aquariuma (The Temptation of Saint Aquarium). Another album, Prichti Grafa Diffuzora (The Parables of Count Diffuzora), was recorded in the spring of 1974, shortly after which Gunitskii left the group to pursue an acting career.
The next couple of years were characterized by gigs around town in surreptitious acoustic gatherings at friends' apartments (known as kvartirniks) or walking the streets with their instruments, a uniquely mobile collective. By 1976 they were playing concerts regularly, and even traveling to some festivals to play acoustic music, which was tolerated. They made two recordings: 1976's S Toy Storony Zerkalnogo Stekla (From the Other Side of the Looking Glass) and 1978's Vse Bratya -- Sestry (All Brothers Are Sisters). A 1979 meeting with producer Andrei Tropillo proved to be of great consequence toAquarium. Recording albums was also a process complicated by opposition from the state, causing recordings of rock music to be highly coveted and copied dozens of times. Tropillo's studio was one of the few places where rock musicians could record albums, and in 1981 Aquarium left basement recording behind forever with Sinii Albom (The Blue Album), which was recorded at Tropillo's studio. It was not only Aquarium's first studio record, but the first studio rock album in the history of the Soviet Union. It was followed by Treugolnik (Triangle), which, because its text verged on the absurd, Grebenshikov hoped would become the new Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Not long after, the first rock club was opened in Leningrad, and Aquarium became regular performers there. They also released Akustika (Acoustics), its follow-up record, Elektrichestvo (Electricity), and in 1984, Tabu (Taboo).
In the mid-'80s, the media began to cautiously include coverage of rock performances, including an appearance by Aquarium on the show Musical Ring, shown on national TV. An avalanche of media appearances and live performances followed, launching the group into superstardom. In this period, Aquarium recorded and released a series of albums, including Den Serebra (The Day of Silver), Deti Dekabrya (The Children of December), Desyat Strel (Ten Arrows), and 1987's Ravnodenstvie (Equinox). In 1989, while visiting the U.S., Grebenshikov and members of Eurythmics recorded the album Radio Silence, his first album in English. In 1990, in London, he made his second English-language recording, entitled Radio London. When he returned to Russia he traded the name Aquarium for BG-Band. The new Russian Album was dedicated to the many changes occurring in Russia as a result of Perestroika and Glasnost.
In the early to mid-'90s, Grebenshikov and company released a number of albums, once again as Aquarium. These all departed from rock in favor of a unique take on rural folk melodies. Hyperborea and Lilit (Lilith), which included performances by members of the Band, were released in 1997. The Tibetan-influenced album Refuge was recorded jointly with Gabrielle Roth & the Mirrors, as was 2002's Bardo. Another 2002 album, Sister Chaos, marked the 30th anniversary of Aquarium and a divergence in style, which focused on the group's rhythm section. In 2003 Aquarium recorded the jazz-influenced album Pesni Ribaka (Fisherman's Songs) in Russia and in India. An album influenced by African rhythms, Zoom Zoom Zoom, was released in 2005. ~ Sabrina Jaszi, Rovi