As with every Gypsy, stories and legends abound about Saban and, as in other cases, it is not clear what is true and what is not. There are, unfortunately, no books existing on Saban or at least none readily available. Saban has no agents and no marketing strategists with media attitude, he has no written PR texts and has no homepage on the Internet.
Even before the winds of war began to blow through the Balkans, it was difficult to track him down- now it is practically impossible. It is widely held that even the well informed connoisseurs of Romany culture and Gypsy music are unable to provide an accurate information about him .In spite of this, however, it is obvious toeveryone that the greatest among the equally great of them all is none other than Saban Bajramovic.
It is believed he was born on 16 April 1936 in Nis-Yugoslavia.He attended primary school for only first four years. On quitting school, he picked up his musical education practically on the street and wherever he could, as others of his people have always done.
At 19 he ran away from the army out of love for a girl. As a deserter, he was sentenced to three years prison on the island Goli otok, but as he told the military court they couldn’t hold him for so long as he could survive, they raised his punishment to five and a half years. He survived as he was a good goalkeeper in the prison football team. Because of his nimbleness and speed, they called him-"Black Panther". Soon he forced his way into the prison orchestra that played, among other things, jazz (mostly Armstrong, Sinatra, and even John Coltrane) with Spanish and Mexican pieces. Today he likes to say that he read 20.000 books in his life, most of them whilst in prison. He also says that the prison on Goli otok was his university of life where he formed his philosophy, adding that a person who has never been in prison is not a person at all.
After Goli otok, his intensive music career began. He made his first record in 1964 and since than has made 15-20 LPs and about 50 singles. To date he is supposed to have composed 650 compositions. With his first major earnings, he bought a white Mercedes and hired two bodyguards. The story says that he soon lost his Mercedes gambling, and it seems Saban is still fond of a dice. The girl that caused him to go to Goli otok did not wait for him. He can’t say himself how many times he has been married since his return from the prison, and God alone knows how many children he has fathered throughout the Balkans. For 20 years he had his own group called ‘Black Mamba" that toured half the world. They played real music or, as Saban says, more than music Nehru and Indira Ghandi invited him to India where they proclaimed him the world king of Gypsy music. Legend also has it that Gypsies respect and love Tito the most, Saban second and then, after ten empty places, once again Saban.
From those times there exist famous pictures of Saban poising alone or with his Mambas in white clothes like some kind of Balkan mutant a cross between Tito and Elvis, but with muddy shoes and a bottle of spirit in his inside pocket. His dark, scarred face was set off by a set of gold and diamond teeth, set wide apart, and his native, bitter-sweet Gypsy smile that tells all and nothing, ringed by a thin stylish moustache (such as that worn by Little Richard or Screamin’ Jay Hawkins). Hidden behind the scarred face and deep, hoarse voice lies an absolute ear for music and real Gypsy soul. He latter changed his brilliant teeth. He thought they reacted to alcohol that caused a painful jaw-just as he changed his groups, styles, wives, children, cars. His moustache thickened and lost some of its glamour but his voice, ear for music and real Gypsy soul remains unchanged.
Today it is very difficult task to trace Saban Bajramovic.Officially he still lives in Nis but he has often been seen a café owned by Mujo Bosanac in Vienna where at weekends he raises emotions and flatters the guests.
You can also find him in the films, Sunday Lunch and the Guardian Angel by G. Paskaljevic- and Kusturica’s films and in the works of many musicians who have been directly inspired by him and have taken his themes and melodies, among them the once and now again famous Goran Bregovic.