Football-obsessed German rock trio Sportfreunde Stiller formed outside of Munich in 1996. Singer/guitarist Peter "Balboa" Brugger, bassist Rüdiger Linhof, and drummer Florian "Rakete" Weber derived the name from their former soccer instructor Hans Stiller, adding "Sportfreunde" (German for "sports friends") when a rival band laid claim to the Stiller name. The group issued its debut EP, Macht Doch Was Ihr Wollt, Ich Geh Jetzt shortly after forming, with the follow-up, Thonträger, appearing two years later.
Sportfreunde Spiller issued their first full-length effort, So Wie Einst Real Madrid, in 2000. Its titular emphasis on the beautiful game further cemented the trio's athletic image, and in 2003 "Independent," a track from their sophomore effort, Die Gute Seite, was included on EA Sports' FIFA 2003 video game. The third Sportfreunde Spiller LP, Burli, hit stores in 2004. Two years later, shortly following the release of their next record, You Have to Win Zweikampf, their World Cup-inspired fan anthem "'54, '74, '90, 2006" topped the German charts, and when the German national squad was ousted by eventual champion Italy, the band reworked the song as "'54, '74, '90, 2010" in anticipation of the next World Cup tournament in South Africa. Later in 2006, Sportfreunde Stiller were nominated as Best German Act at the annual MTV Europe Music Awards.
Sportfreunde Stiller's fifth full-length, La Bum, dropped in 2007, and became their first album to rise to number one on the German album charts; two years later they followed it up with an MTV Unplugged set recorded in New York. After four years away, Sportfreunde Stiller returned to the charts in 2013 with New York, Rio, Rosenheim, which rose to number two on the German charts, went all the way to number one in Austria, and peaked at six in Switzerland. A lengthy tour followed, then the band took a short hiatus until the October 2016 release of Sturm & Stille, their first number one hit in Germany since La Bum. ~ Jason Ankeny