Miljenko Matijevic born November 30, 1964 is an internationally known Croatian-American singer-songwriter, musician, producer, and video director. He gained fame as the multi-octave singer-songwriter, of the highly acclaimed rock band, SteelHeart.
Early Life:
Matijevic and older brother John were brought to America, from Zagreb, Croatia by their parents, in 1970. The family took residence first in Scarsdale, N.Y., then a year later settled in Greenwich, Connecticut. Matijevic and John had a strong interest, and affinity for music, which only grew stronger once they reached America.
Music Career:
At age nine Matijevic began singing in the church choir, he also played country music such as Johnny Cash, and John Denver However at age eleven he was introduced to Led Zeppelin; and that is when his musical journey began to come alive. When Matijevic was thirteen years old he and John formed a band name “Teaser”, playing covers tunes as well as original music. Des*pite much interest by producer Morgan Walker, “Teaser” fizzled out.
Matijevic joined a band called “The Mission”, at the age of fifteen. He worked very closely with the leader of the band, Elliot Lewis, (who later became a member of “The Average White Band”). Matijevic was now equipped with studio and writing experience. Shortly after the disband of “The Mission”, Matijevic received a phone call from a gentleman named Don Stroh. Don was the owner of Showcase Studios, a rehearsal complex in Norwalk Ct. He had seen Matijevic perform in a night club with “The Mission’. Mr Stroh strongly believed that Matijevic belonged with one of the bands that rehearsed in his studio.
Formation (1980 – 1989):
After careful consideration, of Mr. Stroh’s offer, Matijevic, now sixteen years old, joined up with James Ward (Bassist), Chris Risola (Guitar), and Jack Wilkinson (Drums), “Red Alert” was formed. Jack was eventually replaced by John Fowler (Drums), Frank DeCostanzo (Rhythm) was added to form a five-piece.
Right after high school Matijevic attended college to major in mechanical engineering. During his second year of college it dawned on him… “I was meant to be a singer”, so Matijevic promptly tossed his books out the second story window and focused all his time and energy on the band. After completing a five song demo, Matijevic, Jimmy Ward and Matijevic’s friend John Belmont travelled to Los Angles, with one thing in mind… to get a record deal. The trio had no contacts; nor did they have any idea what the procedure was to getting signed, but with great determination, that was their only goal. Within a month the trio had secured a new manager and a record deal with MCA. Band ultimately changed name from “Red Alert” to “SteelHeart”.
SteelHeart (1990 – 1992):
The group’s self titled debut album ‘SteelHeart’ was released in 1990, bringing them almost immediate commercial success, with critics comparing their forceful hard rock sound to Led Zeppelin’s. Since then, Matijevic and band-mates have showcased their broad influences and the raw strength of his vocals; their sound drawing comparisons to hard rock and pop metal greats like Ratt and Whitesnake. The original line up included Matijevic Matijevic (Vox, Guitar, Piano), Chris Risola (Guitar), Frank DiCostanzo (Guitar), James Ward (Bass), and John Fowler (Drums). The guys found themselves hitting the big time as their first album reached #40 on the Billboard 200 chart in 1990, the band’s fan-base growing swiftly around the world. “SteelHeart” sold 33,000 albums on its first day in Japan alone. Before long, the album hit platinum – and its power ballad, “She’s Gone,” hit #1 on the international charts, staying there 17 weeks. The second single, “I’ll Never Let You Go (Angel Eyes)” reached #14 on the Billboard charts. Another song, “Can’t Stop Me Loving’ You” further showcased Matijevic’s vocal range, but this time, Risola’s lead guitar skills were also noticed.
SteelHeart’s next effort album-wise, “Tangled In Reins,” released July 10, 1992, had a more mixed eclectic song style. With heavy hitting, hard driving songs like “Loaded Mutha”, “SteelHeart”, “Electric Love Child”, and fun loving “Sticky Side Up;” to tear jerking ballads such as “Mama Don’t You Cry.” to name a few. The song, “SteelHeart” featured Matijevic hitting the highest note of his song catalogue. While the ballad “Mama Don’t You Cry” charted #1 in many East Asian Countries, including Hong Kong, prompting their live unplugged performance in Hong Kong followed by an extensive unplugged tour of Asia in September, 1992. The album did not reap the same commercial success as SteelHeart’s debut album, reaching only #144 on the Billboard charts, signaling the grunge-sound invasion was starting to take force in the music business.
Matijevic’s Stage Accident:
But, then, momentously, SteelHeart was asked by heavy metal band Slaughter to perform a show with them on Oct. 31, 1992, Halloween night. This was to be the 50th show of Steelheart’s last leg of the tour. It turned out to be momentous in a way they didn’t expect as tragedy struck. The last show of the tour, in Denver, Colorado, Steelheart took the stage, one last time, with the original line up, that fateful Halloween night in 1992. That night would forever be remembered by SteelHeart fans as one of the scariest ever. While performing “Dancing in the Fire,” from their “Tangled in Reins” album, Matijevic decided to climb a lighting truss, which was improperly secured, forever changing the lives of Steelheart and their fans. Trying to dodge the massive rig without success, the 1000 pound truss hit the back of his head – hard – driving one of the greatest vocalists of all time face first into the stage: breaking his nose, cheekbone, jaw and twisting his spine. Talk about SteelHeart: Matijevic miraculously found the strength to walk off the stage and was immediately hospitalized. Of course, this was the end of the SteelHeart in one formation – but a new beginning to a total rise from the ashes. SteelHeart ended that night, at least for a while – after a very impressive career.
(1996 – 2010):
Four years later, in 1996, after much physical rehabilitation, Matijevic formed a new version of SteelHeart: Kenny Kanowski (guitars), Vincent Mele (bass) and Alex Makarovich (drums) – to record and release the album “Wait.” This album was very different to the previous two. The single “Wait” went #1 in many Asian countries, & the song “We All Die Young” was later used in the 2001 Mark Wahlberg / Jennifer Aniston film, “ROCK STAR.” Matijevic played a huge part in the ROCK STAR movie by lending his voice to Mark Wahlberg’s character Chris Cole in a Steel Dragon cover band and later as his alter ego Chris “Iggy” Cole of Steel Dragon.
But the story does not end there. Rock star to the end, Matijevic has been working non-stop on music since the accident. In 2008, he released “Good 2B Alive,” which he wrote, produced and engineered with producer Kit Woolen. Matijevic joined Ray Manzerak and Robby Krieger in 2010 as the lead singer transcending the late Jim Morrison of “The Doors”. Two remarkable tours performing theaters and festivals throughout the US and Europe including a 52 piece orchestra in London, Dublin and Wolverhampton with “The Royal Phil Harmonic Orchestra”. Matijevic delivered a remarkable performance every night with rave reviews. Matijevic then returned to his roots with SteelHeart, and toured with his band for many shows throughout the world.
(2014 – Current):
Performing on several continents such as Europe, Asia and North America. Early January 2016, Matijevic was in Korea for six months – a country where he’s a super star – performing on various TV shows, festivals including The Dream concert. Matijevic is the only foreign artist ever to perform this concert to a 60,000 audience strong and televised to many countries. Matijevic’s’ performance that night received outstanding reviews with the whole stadium singing the chorus alone. He also penned two songs, one late 2015 and another early 2016, for two of OST Korea tv’s top hit dramas, “My Love Is Gone” and “Stay.” Matijevic then took just one week off from touring/playing Korea to join three festivals in the US and perform at the Hollywood Bowl for the sold-out Los Angeles Korean Times Music Festival on May 7, 2016. Next day, he jumped on the plane headed back to Korea for still more shows. After six months in Korea in the summer of 2016, Matijevic came back the US for more SteelHeart touring.
Steelheart signed a new record deal with Italian label “Frontiers Records” March 16, 2017. Matijevic wrote and produced SteelHeart’s latest album “Through The Worlds Of Stardust”, which was released by Frontiers Records on September 6, 2017. Matijevic harnessed the vision and direction of this album to capture the energy we all enjoyed and lived of our past rock ere. The album also implements the power and driving energy of today’s Rock music. The album showcases Melodic, Heavy, Hard Hitting tunes, as well as life lived, tear jerking ballads featuring orchestral colors. Matijevic produced, directed and starred in two music videos, “Lips Of Rain” and “You Got Me Twisted” both songs are cut from the latest album “Through The Worlds Of Stardust”. The album and videos earned rave reviews from fans and critics alike.
Awards & Honors:
January 17, 2014 – World Stars Award – 9th Asia Model Festival Awards –
Presenter and Nominee (Winner of “Asia Special Award”)
May 21, 2016 – International Honorary Ambassador to Suwon Hwaseong
May 22, 2016 – Korean Wave and Cultural Contribution Award
Television Appearances:
1992 – MTV Unplugged (Hong Kong) – SteelHeart
2016 – King Of Masked Singer – First time ever a foreigner takes the stage on series. Performed songs in Korean – Miljenko Matijevic
Charity Work:
2009 – Good 2B Alive Bike’s For Children – Liv International -The Green Valley Ranch Resort Casino Spa – Las Vega, NV
2012 – Fallen Blue Police Benefit – Baltimore, MD
2018 – Classical To Rock Concert w/ full orchestra
1990 – “SteelHeart” – SteelHeart – Album
1991 – “She’s Gone” – SteelHeart – Single
1992 – “Tangled In Reins” – SteelHeart – Album
1995 – “Wait” – SteelHeart – Album
2001 – Rock Star – Various – Sound Track From Movie Rock Star
2006 – “SteelHeart Still Hard” SteelHeart – Double DVD Set
2008 – “Good 2B Alive” SteelHeart – Album
2011 – “Black Dog” – Miljenko Matijevic – Single (Cover)
2016 – “ 죽을만큼 니가 보고파서 ” (My Love Is Gone) – Miljenko Matijevic – EP (Korean)
2017 – “Through The Worlds Of Stardust” – SteelHeart – Album
Music Videos:
1990 – “Everybody Loves Eileen” – SteelHeart
1990 – “Can’t Stop Me Lovin’ You” – SteelHeart
1990 – “I’ll Never Let You Go” – SteelHeart
1992 –  “Mama Don’t You Cry” – SteelHeart 1992 – “Sticky Side Up” – SteelHeart
1992 –  “She’s Gone” – SteelHeart
1996 – “Wait” – SteelHeart
1996 – “We All Die Young” – SteelHeart
2008 – “LOL” – SteelHeart
2008 – “Good 2B Alive” – SteelHeart
2016 – “Stay” – Miljenko Matijevic
2016 – “My Love Is Gone” – Miljenko Matijevic
2017 – “Lips Of Rain” – SteelHeart (Producer/Director/Performer)
2017 – “You Got Me Twisted” – SteelHeart (Producer/Director/Performer)
Filmography Voice Appearance:
2001 – Rock Star – Starring Mark Wahlberg/Jennifer Aniston
Other Media:
2017 – The Making Of 2017 Album “Through The Worlds Of Stardust” – YouTube Video Series – Producer/Director/
Star Release Date TBD
– Good 2B Alive Biographical Documentary Film/Life and Music of Miljenko Matijevic (SteelHeart) – North Sea Films” Director Dana Altman