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Götz Alsmann

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Biography

German celebrity entertainer Götz Alsmann enjoyed a fruitful solo recording career as a throwback jazz singer/pianist, in addition to his long run as a radio and television host on public broadcasting station WDR. Occasionally referred to as "der Fritz Lang des Jazzschlagers" (i.e., the Fritz Lang of jazz singers), he is widely recognized as a brilliant yet somewhat twisted character; for instance, his vertical hairstyle is one of his distinguishing characteristics, along with his retro sense of fashion and quick wit. Born July 12, 1957, in Münster, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Alsmann formed his first band (Heupferd Jug Band, with whom he recorded three albums) in 1972 and went to university (Westfälischen Wilhelms-Universität in Münster) in 1977. His eventual dissertation, "Nichts als Krach: Die Unabhängigen Schallplattenfirmen und die Entwicklung der Amerikanischen Populären Musik 1943-1963" (i.e., Nothing as Noise: The Independent Record Companies and the Development of American Popular Music 1943-1963), proved fitting to his career path, for his artistic identity — from his music to his fashion sense — was greatly informed by the American popular music of this time period.

Alsmann recorded sporadically during the 1980s, playing with a band called the Sentimental Pounders. Party Time (1982) marked the recording debut of Alsmann & the Sentimental Pounders, though it was a pair of 1985 releases that earned the most attention for the band: the full-length Saratoga Suitcase album and the "People Are People" single (the latter indeed a cover of Depeche Mode's classic from the same time period). Following this initial brush with fame, Alsmann assumed a solo billing for Twelve to Six: The Afternoon Session (1987). The Keytones Meet Götz Alsmann, a collaborative recording, followed in 1989. Also during the 1980s, Alsmann began hosting an array of radio shows on WDR, starting with the Professor Bop-Show in 1986, and he spent five years, from 1986-1990, hosting the TV show Roxy: Das Magazin für den Jungen Erwachsenen, also for WDR. In 1989 he formed the Götz Alsmann Band: Michael Müller (bass), Rudi Marhold (drums), Markus Paßlick (percussion), and Altfrid M. Sicking (vibraphone, xylophone).

In the 1990s Alsmann's career truly took flight, with his music, radio, and television pursuits all proving increasingly successful. In particular, he hosted a dizzying rotation of television shows during the decade (High Life, 1990-1993, RIAS; Gong-Show, 1992-1993, RTL; Avanti, 1993-1994, VOX; Spät-Show, 1994-1996, NDR; et al.), and while he didn't release any music for a few years, presumably given his explosion of television activity, he resumed his music career in earnest in 1993 with Big Bamboo, an EP released in anticipation of the full-length Zazou (1994). Another full-length, Gestatten...Götz Alsmann (1997), followed a couple years later, as did Zuckersüß (1999) — these two albums, his first major-label releases, were notably his first to be sung in German rather than English, a practice he would generally continue throughout the remainder of his career. Between these releases came Zimmer Frei (1998), a guest-laden radio talk show CD derived from Alsmann and Christine Westermann's popular WDR program of the same name.

Alsmann's recording output grew in both frequency and popularity after the turn of the century. Filmreif! (2001), his third release for Universal Jazz, was his first to chart (at number 59), and it was followed later in the year by For Collectors: 1982-1991 (2001), a compilation of early recordings such as "People Are People" and "Saratoga Suitcase." Subsequent releases credited to Alsmann include In 80 Tagen um die Welt (2002), a three-CD audiobook featuring a reading of Around the World in 80 Days with accompanying music; Zimmer Frei, Vol. 2 (2003), another radio talk show CD featuring a long list of well-known guests; Die Feuerzangenbowle (2003), a four-CD audiobook; Tabu! (2003), a jazz album; Drei Mann in Einem Boot (2005), a five-CD audiobook; Kuss (2005), a jazz album; Max und Moritz und Andere Lieblingswerke (2006), an audiobook read in conjunction with Otto Sander; and Winterwunderwelt (2006), a Christmas album featuring the WDR Big Band. The latter was Alsmann's first release to chart Top 40, a feat matched by his subsequent release, Mein Geheimnis (2007), a jazz album and his first release under the famed Blue Note banner.

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