Dubbed by wags "the singing secondary schoolteacher" as a result of his often didactic lyrics, German rocker Heinz Rudolf Kunze enjoyed his greatest success in the mid-'80s via the smashes "Dein Ist Mein Ganzes Herz" and "Mit Leib und Seele." Born November 30, 1956, in Espelkamp-Mittwald, Kunze was afflicted with acute bone disease throughout childhood, channeling his limited energy into books and music. He first pursued a career as a writer, earning some measure of fame for short stories including Zu Karla Übers Wochenende and Romanze den 1. During the mid-'70s Kunze began singing with the rock group Provinzriesen, over time learning guitar and piano. In 1980 he appeared at Würzburg's Pop-Nachwuchs-Festival alongside guitarist Mick Franke, so impressing audiences and judges that he landed a five-record deal with WEA. Kunze's debut LP Reine Nervensache followed in 1981. A critical smash, the album earned a series of honors, most notably the Berliner Wecker and the Willy-Dehmel-Preis. His 1983 effort Der Schwere Mut was no less acclaimed, and as his notoriety grew Kunze expanded into other media, penning an essay on American singer/songwriter Randy Newman for Der Spiegel and hosting radio series for NDR and SFB. With the title cut from 1985's Dein Ist Mein Ganzes Herz he scored his first German Top Ten hit, although the album was his last with longtime collaborator Franke, a break that for many fans signaled the conclusion of Kunze's most creative period. The 1986 release of Wunderkinder nevertheless proved his continued commercial viability. The album quickly entered the Top 20, notching the hit single "Mit Leib und Seele," and he went on to receive the coveted Goldene Stimmgabel.
Kunze remained one of German rock's biggest stars throughout the remainder of the decade, scoring a series of hit singles including "Alles Was Sie," "Größer als Wir Beide," and "Heul mit den Wölfen." At the peak of his fame he shifted gears again, in 1991 publishing the novel Sternzeichen Sündenbock. That same year, Kunze also issued the album Brille, his best-selling release to date. With the follow-up, Draufgänger, he drew influence from the grunge sound then in vogue in the U.S. In 1994, he published a second novel, Der Golem aus Lemgo, and with Kunze: Macht Musik even landed on the government's Bundesprüfstelle index thanks to the controversial "Sex mit Hitler." Kunze won two additional Goldene Stimmgabel honors in the second half of the decade, but his sales dwindled. Moreover, his extracurricular efforts outside of rock led to charges by critics that he was suffering through a midlife crisis, charges bolstered by the 2002 publication of his third novel, Wasser bis zum Hals Steht Mir. Kunze responded by recruiting Blumfeld's Chris von Rautenkranz to produce a handful of tracks for his next LP, Wasser bis zum Hals Steht Mir. In 2003 he premiered his first stage musical, Ein Sommernachtstraum, followed a year later by a sequel, POE: Pech und Schwefel. In 2007, Kunze enjoyed a surge of renewed popularity when his "Die Welt Ist Pop" placed third in competition to represent Germany in the annual Eurovision Song Contest, falling to Roger Cicero's "Frauen Regier'n die Welt." The accompanying LP, Klare Verhältnisse, was his most commercially successful outing in close to a decade. ~ Jason Ankeny