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10 Popular Musicians With Croatian Roots

With a little over four million people, it is not that surprising to learn that most individuals with a Croatian legacy live outside of the small central European nation. A substantial proportion of whom is situated in the U.S.

Some of these people of Croatian descent have made significant contributions in a variety of disciplines. And no, we are not just talking about your favorite pastime, This time, we’re talking about music.

There are quite a number of these people, but we shall take a dive into ten of the most hallowed music names to come out of or have Croatian roots. We wager some of these names are going to pique your interest.

1. Krist Novoselic

Bass player and one part of the famous grunge rock group Nirvana, Krist Novoselic has to make the list. The Rock’ n’ Roll Hall of Famer was born to Croatian parents Krsto and Marija Novoselic in the state of California. He spent time in Zadar on the Dalmatian coast for some of his schooling in the ’80s.

His parents Marija and Krsto hail from Privlaka near Zadar and Iž, respectively. Through his brother, he encountered Kurt Cobain, with whom he shared a musical connection. They would go on to found a rock band that would amass the appreciation of audiences worldwide.

2. Lorde

Born with Croatian ties in her maternal heritage, Ella Yelich-O’Connor, or as you would otherwise call her, Lorde, came into the public scene while still a teenager with the smash hit ‘Royals’ that topped the charts for several weeks.

Furthermore, she bagged multiple Grammy Award wins off that record to go along with over nine weeks on the Billboard hottest charts. Lorde currently resides in New Zealand. A couple of years ago, she revealed that she had indeed obtained Croatian citizenship.

3. Tony Butala

Originally from small-town Sharon, Pennsylvania, Tony Butala emerged as lead vocalist to a band called The Lettermen with Croatian roots.

This group would carve a storied musical career with a legacy spanning two top ten singles, sixteen top ten singles rocking the Adult Contemporary play, eleven gold records, thirty-two back-to-back Billboard Magazine chart albums, and 5 Grammy award nominations.

Tony Butala had the privilege of being awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

4. Michael Bublé

Critically acclaimed artist, lyricist, and music producer Michael Bublé is another one you would be interested to learn has Croatian heritage. Mihovil, his grandfather, is originally from Trogir, just around Split off the Coast of Dalmatia.

Michael drew inspiration from his grandfather’s old records, and it was his influence that guided a young Buble to a talent show at age seventeen. From there, he would go on to sell over 75 million records, win multiple Grammys and have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

5. Stephen Kovacevich

Stephen Kovacevich might be lesser-known vis a vis other names on this list but make no mistake, his impact is just as profound. A classical pianist and orchestra conductor, his work is renowned for his outstanding work in the pieces by Bartok, Beethoven, and Schubert.

He has specialized expertise, precise playing, and an intelligent measured means of interpreting music. Kovacevich was born to a Croatian father and American mother in California.

6. Guy Mitchell

Born in Detroit, Michigan, to first-generation Croatian parents, Guy Mitchell would make a name for himself in music. An artist and entertainer, he found success not only in the U.S. but also in Australia and the United Kingdom. He sold over forty-four million records that included six mega-hit singles that went over a million units in sales each.

7. Johnny Mercer

Johnny Mercer makes this list with deep Croatian roots on his maternal grandfather’s side. He was a long-serving music composer, singer, and record imprint exec. He was also a lyricist, musician, and vocalist. He was additionally a record name chief who helped to establish Capitol Records.

In a period ranging from the mid-’30s to the ’50s, Mercer composed and sang some of the biggest songs of that era. As one of the founding members of Capitol Records, he composed the verses to more than fifteen hundred tunes, including scores for films and shows on Broadway. His storied music career got him 19 Oscar nominations.

8. David Paich

David Paich gained the most notoriety from his time at the famous rock music group Toto. He wore many hats from primary songwriter and occasional dabbling in keyboarding and singing from the start of the group.

He composed and co-composed quite a bit of Toto’s discography, for instance, biggest tunes, “Rosanna,” “Hang Tight,” and “Africa.” A worthwhile discography sporting lyrical prowess that spanned seventeen albums, grossing over forty million records in sales.

Furthermore, David Pach wrote for and produced for many musicians such as Michael Jackson and Boz Scaggs. His grandparents were first-generation Croats. His mother was of English, Scottish and German heritage.

9. Tomo Miličević

Tomo was born in Detroit, Michigan, to Croatian parents. His claim to fame was as the guitar man for the popular rock group Thirty Seconds to Mars. He made friends with one Jared Leto within the group with whom Tomo would accomplish several essential things in the 2000s.

10. Walter Parazaider

Walter Parazaider was born in Illinois to parents of Croatian descent. His claim to fame was an establishing individual from the rock music crew Chicago. In his repertoire was an assortment of wind instruments such as flutes, saxophone, and clarinet.

With worldwide record sales of over a hundred million records, Chicago is in rarified air as one of the most prominent best-selling music groups ever to do it.


Bet you didn’t know a lot of the names on the list. Some you might have known without knowing their Croatian roots. In the motherland or the diaspora, Croatians, first-generation or immigrants elsewhere, contribute to different fields and disciplines. Do you know anyone else with Croatian heritage making waves?