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The song by Boney M., the Jack Lucien song, Rasputin (Jack Lucien song)

"Rasputin" is a 1978 euro disco hit single by the Germany-based pop and euro disco group Boney M., the second from their album Nightflight to Venus. Allegedly based on the Turkish folk song "Kâtibim", it is a semi-biographical song about Grigori Rasputin, a friend and advisor of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his family during the early 20th century. The song variously sensationalizes Rasputin as a playboy, mystical healer, and political manipulator.


Grigori Rasputin, the subject of the song

"Rasputin" references the hope held by Tsaritsa Alexandra Fyodorovna that Grigori Rasputin would heal her hemophiliac son Tsarevich Alexei of Russia. It also claims that Rasputin was Alexandra's paramour: "Ra Ra Rasputin: lover of the Russian queen - there was a cat that really was gone" (although liberally rhyming his name with the word "queen"). As "Russia's greatest love machine", the "Moscow chicks" thought him lovely. The song claims that Rasputin's political power overshadowed that of the Tsar himself in "all affairs of state". When his sexual and political acts became intolerable, "men of higher standing" plotted his downfall, despite the fact that "the ladies begged" them not to. Although the song states "he was a brute", it claims that the ladies "just fell into his arms."

The guitar break starting at 0:52 in the 4:42 minute version of the song is taken from The Ventures' 1960 version of "Walk, Don't Run."

The end of the song recounts a modified version of a popular description of the events that culminated in Rasputin's assassination, as perpetrated by Felix Yusupov, Vladimir Purishkevich, and Dmitri Pavlovich, on December 16, 1916 (O.S.).The song claims that Rasputin's assassins fatally shot him after he survived the poisoning of his wine.

While the song accurately re-tells many of the unfavorable rumors that damaged Rasputin's reputation, there is no verifiable evidence to suggest that he had an affair with Alexandra.

AllMusic's journalist Donald A. Guarisco described it as "a tribute to the legendary Russian historical figure that uses balalaikas to create its textured rhythm guitar hook."

Reception and legacy

The song rose to the top of the charts in Germany and Austria, and went to No. 2 in the United Kingdom and Switzerland. It was also another No. 1 hit for Boney M. in Australia, giving them their second (and last) chart topper in that country (the other one being "Rivers of Babylon").

AllMusic's journalist Donald A. Guarisco called the track "the oddest and most unusual and interesting combination of musical elements" from Nightflight to Venus, then picked it as one of his album's "track picks."

Although the song was written and performed in English, with a smattering of GermanBut the kasatschok he danced really wunderbar! — it enjoyed great popularity in the Soviet Union, and is credited with making Rasputin famous again there, although it was omitted from the Russian pressing of the album and Boney M. were barred from performing the song during their ten performances in Moscow in December 1978. During their visit to Poland in 1979, Boney M. performed "Rasputin" despite being asked not to by government officials. The Sopot show was broadcast on national TV the next day after the song was edited out of their performance, but it was broadcast on radio full and live.

The song has been covered by a number of other bands in varying musical styles. Finnish band Turisas recorded a folk metal version, while Boiled in Lead covered it as a folk punk song. The British comic book Nikolai Dante cited a lyric from the song for the title of its story called "Russia's Greatest Love Machine" in the 1997 issue of 2000 AD. The Washington, D.C.-based dance/rock band Ra Ra Rasputin takes its name from the song.


The album pressings of Nightflight to Venus feature the title track segued into "Rasputin". Initial LP pressings include the full-length, 6:26 version of "Rasputin", most notable for an instrumental interlude in the third verse between the lines "though he was a brute, they just fell into his arms" and "Then one night some men of higher standing ..." that was later cut out. The second LP pressing featured a 6:03 version, subsequent pressings a 5:51 version. Boney M.'s single edit is completely different from the edit used for Frank Farian's Gilla recording in German that followed in November 1978 (without success). Both "Rasputin" and "Nightflight to Venus" use the drum line of Cozy Powell's 1973 song, "Dance With The Devil".


The German and Benelux pressings were backed with "Painter Man"; for most other territories the B-side chosen was "Never Change Lovers in the Middle of the Night". The UK pressings had a 5:32 version; most countries faded it to 5:02, while the French Carrere Records release had a 4:45 version. In the United Kingdom, "Painter Man" was issued as an A-side single in February 1979, giving the group a No. 10 hit. In Canada, "Rasputin" was the A-side and became a major hit, topping the Canadian RPM magazine Adult Contemporary singles chart for two weeks beginning March 24, 1979, and peaking at No. 7 on RPM's Top 100 pop singles chart that same week. Despite the Canadian success, the song failed to chart in the United States.

Turisas version

Finnish folk metal band Turisas recorded a cover of Rasputin, released on September 21, 2007 through Century Media. When asked during an interview for the magazine Metal Hammer why they covered the song, band member Warlord Nygard responded with: "There's a ferry route between Finland and Sweden where people go to buy cheap booze and get wasted. I was sitting there watching a band playing 70s disco covers. They blasted into 'Rasputin,' and I realised that it would fit perfectly for Turisas." The band had been playing the cover live for a few years and finally decided to record a studio version of it because of the very positive feedback from the fans. A music video was shot as well.

Track listing

  1. "Rasputin" – 3:56
  2. "Battle Metal" – 4:23

A limited edition 7" picture vinyl features "The Court of Jarisleif" as the B-side.

iTunes edition:
  1. "Rasputin" – 3:53
  2. "Rasputin (Heavy Demo Version)" – 3:53
  3. "Rasputin (Instrumental)" – 3:51


  • Mathias Nygård – vocals, orchestral programming and keyboards
  • Jussi Wickström – guitar
  • Tude Lehtonen – drums and percussion
  • Olli Vänskä – violin
  • Hannes Horma – bass
  • Lisko – accordion


The Hindi-language song "I'll Do the Talking" from the 2012 Indian film Agent Vinod is an official remake of "Rasputin". However, according to its composer Pritam, it is more closely based on the Serbian folk song "Ruse kose curo imaš", which inspired "Rasputin".

Croatian band Vatrogasci (featuring Željko Pervan) made a parody of the song in 1994, naming it "Raspiči, opiči".

External links

Wikinews - Turisas release cover of Boney M. hit song 'Rasputin' as single

Template:Boney M. Template:Turisas Template:Grigori Rasputin in popular culture