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Klaus Wunderlich

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Klaus Wunderlich was born to a policeman in the Saxony town of Chemnitz in 1930. As a teenager he worked for the local opera rehearsing singers but soon chose popular music over classical. By 1951 he was ready to tour West Germany, which led to a standing gig at the Tiny Cabaret Simple in Mannheim. Here he was playing winsomely in a beer hall, and the owner and patrons liked him enough to buy an expensive organ. Then Telefunken found and signed him. Wunderlich experimented with the Hammond, as all the great pop organists have done, to discover and add to its range of extraordinary sounds. It was not long before he was using organ and early synthesizer to reproduce strings, horns, and so forth. To overcome the early synthesizer's one-note-at-a-time limitation, he became an expert at multi-tracking, effects, and other production wizardry. The magic was not all technical, however. Wunderlich, like a benign Black Forest gnome, played music that pandered to popular taste but also pushed the boundaries for keyboardists. He wrote some great tunes and arranged many others in a zany way not seen since Lenny Dee, whose career was peaking as Wunderlich picked up the baton. Wunderlich shared Ethel Smith's affinity for Latin and Brasilian rhythms, Lenny Dee's zany pop sense, and Jean-Jacques Perrey's lighthearted invention and technical facility. A long series of albums for Telefunken included some Moog albums and demos for the Wersi super-organ, which was something like a Hammond stuffed with Moog capabilities. The Hammond Pops and other Wunderlich albums are notorious, mainly because the music and jackets are rife with cheese and cheesecake. There is a lot of "mush" to sift through, to be sure, but fine gems twinkle there too, as if out of a fairy tale by the brothers Grimm. ~ Tony Wilds

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1931 in Chemnitz, Germany

Years Active:

'50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s