Yogi Lonich – King of the Blues – gastro interview – Why I moved to Zagreb/Croatia


I called Yogi Lonich, one of the greatest blues guitar players and told him that I will take him to 50 Burger and Champagne Bar if he gives me an interview. He sad ”No problem. Interview for food is a great deal.”

Yogi Lonich
photo: Josip Novosel, Flash.hr

You lived in Los Angeles, you played with Chris Cornell, Shakira, Anastacia…, you where a rock star, you had everything. Why did you move to Croatia? Why do you live in Zagreb? Are you suicidal? Por que?

I spent a lot of years being flown and driven to concerts around the world so now I feel it’s time for me to give back and drive my manager to gigs. In all seriousness, my wife is from Zagreb and my daughter was starting first grade and we wanted to put her in a European school system. It was an easy move for us. I love the chill lifestyle here.

Your father is Croatian and your mother is from Peru. Did your father tell you: ”You need to find a Croatian wife and go back to Croatia. Stop playing guitar and find yourself a proper job! I know some people in HDZ, they will find you a nice office job.” 

A few years ago I brought my father to Kukljica and Zadar to visit his brothers for a vacation and he was like: ”I’m never leaving California again.”

How do you like people in Zagreb and Croatia? What do you miss from USA and what do you think is better here? Feel free to lie and say that this is heaven on earth:)

I have to say that people are much warmer and hospitable here in Croatia. When I go to meet somebody for a coffee, it’s going to be at least two hours long. In LA, it’s Starbucks for 15 minutes and then both parties are off to continue their meaningless Hollywood hustles.

In LA, I do miss short lines at the bank and ability to use my credit card anywhere. You can also roll down ALL the windows in a car without the threat of death by draft.

50 Burger and Champagne bar – Yogi Lonich
photo: Josip Novosel, Flash.hr


50 A Burger and Champagne Bar – Chicken Ramen
Foto: Dear Leader Joe, Flash.hr
50 Burger and Champagne bar – Fries with bacon and cheese
photo: Dear Leader Joe, Flash.hr

You also have 2 sisters, and one of them was a big pop star in Germany. Did you become a musician because of her? Did you go to some school or did you just practice at home, hoping that one day ladies will scream your name on the concerts?

Yes, my sister Plavka was a huge musical influence on me and inspired me to learn guitar so we could form a band. She also got me into rakija. I had private teachers and got a music degree from California State University Northridge. I learned by playing in my church, the priest just loved me.

You played with Chris Cornell. Were you chasing him like a Jehovah’s witness:  ”Please take me…” or he contacted you? How did you become such a popular guitar player? Are you a Free Mason? Could you give me Shakiras phone number?

I got a lot of big tours because I give the best foot rubs in Los Angeles. I often told the artist’s managers that I would be happy to sleep in the equipment truck. I was also the bands’ caterer and makeup artist.

You were on stage with Rolling Stones and many other famous artists. Do you have some interesting stories from tours or you can not tell me because you are married? 

During a very hot summer tour, Chris Cornell shaved my head on stage during the encore of a concert. My head experienced some nice sunburns after that.

Are you spoiled like other rock stars? Do you ask special hotel rooms with pink leather for your gigs, private jets, fresh roses from local cemeteries, seal testicles for breakfast…?

On proper tours, I always request a vibrating bed and a hot tub filled with whipped cream and beautiful women. In the Balkans, I’m lucky if I can get my own hotel room with hot water.

You play guitar with Edo Maajka. How did you start working together and is it hard for you to play with him because you don’t understand anything he’s singing?

Edo is awesome, our drummer Mirsad was the connection. I just flow with the vibe,  groove with the musicians and watch for hand signals when we are changing to the next section. We just recorded 8 songs in two days!

It’s hard to compare Croatian music to USA music. It’s like comparing Skoda with Aston Martin but still, your real name is Yugomir and I think that you have wedding potential. Would you ever consider playing folk songs on accordion? Yugomir – The king of Accordion.

My new motto is “Have accordion, will travel.”

You were calling me for few months and begging me to be your manager. Why did you chose me? I mean, I know why, because I’m the best but still…Slash still hasn’t forgiven me for picking you instead of him.

I wanted to find a guy who has no comedic boundaries, would do anything it takes to succeed, has no morals and worships me.

Two weeks ago you had a concert in Split. It was crowded and so many girls approached you and asked: ”How do you know Dear Leader (My nick name)? Can you introduce us to him?” Afterwards you played ”I’m just a jealous guy’’. Any comments?  

Yeah, it’s really tough traveling with a young handsome guy who’s a foot shorter than myself and has the smoothest bald head you’ve ever felt. You do take me to some fine restaurants that you pay for by washing dishes.

Do you like USA GMO food more than Croatian cevapi, sarma, lamb…? 

We do have more natural foods here in Croatia. Just today I looked in the fridge at a cup filled with a creamy white substance….my mother in law said: “This is healthy natural pig fat from my brother’s farm. It’s good for you.” I’m sure my arteries love that stuff!

It’s hard to be manager to a rock star without Rolex watch. People are not taking me seriously. You should invest in me. I’m not telling you this as a gold-digger but as a friend and a business partner. Listen to your heart, Yogi. PS: I can always publish your middle name:) 

I’m still waiting for you to prove yourself as a manager. When you get your driver license and graduate from college, I’ll buy you a Timex.

Is this interview for Flash.hr and working with me the highlight of your career? If it’s not, feel free to lie that it is.

I’ve been waiting my entire career to reach such heights as to be managed by a powerhouse mogul as yourself.

Where have you been in 1991?

I was still working as a male prostitute at Santa Monica Blvd and Vine Street.

After the interview and nice food, I realized that I didn’t have enough money to pay the lunch. I gave too much to charity last week.

50 Burger and Champagne bar – Josip Novosel aka Dear Leader
photo: Josip Novosel, Flash.hr

I asked Yogi if he would play a song or two to pay for our food. 

50 Burger and Champagne bar – Yogi Lonich
photo: Josip Novosel, Flash.hr

Adena Lavin, owner of the bar sad ”You don’t need to play Yogi. Your manager will wash the dishes like last time he was here!”

50 Burger and Champagne bar – Yogi Lonich and Adena Lavin
photo: Josip Novosel, Flash.hr

Yogi is currently working on his 4th solo album and is anticipating a summer release in 2018. 



Author: Dear Leader Joe, known as Gastro Snob, manager to those who pay, a corresponding member of the magazine: “Fuck the guitar, play the accordion!”, a friend to the wealthy, a tycoon and a snob but above all a human. https://www.instagram.com/dearleaderjoe/