Autograph (Russian: Автограф, or Avtograf) was a Soviet Russian art rock band, considered a pioneer of progressive rock music in Russia.
The group was founded in Moscow in 1979 by Alexander "Sasha" Sitkovetsky, and achieved a considerable success at the first Soviet state-sanctioned rock festival held in Tbilisi, Georgia with Sitkovetsky's songs 'Fasten Seat Belts', 'Ireland. Ulster' and 'Blues Caprice'. In 1982 vocalist Arthur Berkut joined the band to finalize the lineup: Alexander Sitkovetsky - guitar, vocals, Arthur Berkut - lead vocal, Leonid Goutkin - bass, Leonid Makarevich - keyboards, Victor Mikhalin - drums, vocals.
Autograph was a typical for a Russian rock band, playing more instrumental-based sound and much less symbolist lyrics. They are credited as a pioneering Soviet progressive/art rock band.
After a triumphal success and exhaustive touring throughout the USSR, Autograph became the first Soviet rock-group to achieve commercial success in the West, having toured more than 30 countries. On July 13, 1985, the band - the only one to represent the entire Eastern Europe - took part in Bob Geldof's Live Aid concert, performing before more than 2.5 billion people worldwide (transmitted live from Moscow). The signature song they performed was Нам нужен мир (or Nam Nuzhen Mir - We Need Peace).
In 1987 the band represented the USSR in the Soviet-American concert Our Move organized by Bill Graham with Santana, Doobie Brothers, Bonnie Raitt and James Taylor as featured artists. Autograph also performed at numerous international festivals along with John McLaughlin, Murray Head, Kenny Rogers, Tom Cochran, Glass Tiger, Ten Years After, Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes; opened for Chicago; worked closely with David Foster in Canada and Moscow, became a winner of the Sopot-87 contest in Poland bringing home coveted independent press and audience awards as well as the best song prize for Sitkovetsky's The World Inside.
After two years working successfully with an American manager Mary Becker, in 1989 the band signed a contract with Herb Cohen (Frank Zappa's management) in Los Angeles, California. Their debut album Tear Down the Borders on Rhino Records was released in 1991 and one of the most popular songs I Need You from that album was recorded by Rick Springfield for the blockbuster movie Iron Eagle II.
Disbanded in 1990, "Autograph" reunited in summer of 2005 for a major re-union tour and a final grand anniversary concert at Moscow Olympic Stadium. This historical event attracted thousands of the legendary band's fans and was the first ever to be held in "live-surround" format in Russia. The Autograph - 25 Years DVD and a live CD were released soon after.