Kurt Demmler: Pop and rock lyricist whose career ended in disgrace
Tuesday 10 February 2009
Kurt Demmler was indisputably the most successful pop and rock lyricist to emerge from the German Democratic Republic (GDR) – and arguably the entire Eastern Bloc – during the 1970s and 1980s. However, after child abuse charges, Demmler fell from grace and became an increasingly reviled figure in the last year of his life.
Demmler, whose parents were both doctors, grew up in Cottbus in the state of Brandenburg in the east of Germany. He followed in his parents' footsteps by going into medicine, qualifying as a doctor in 1969. By 1965, however, he had already begun writing lyrics – songs and poetry that tapped into the political struggles of the GDR.
Political songs and folk song –frequently co-joined – shaped his creativity. By 1967 he was part ofthe politicisation of song that was going on in the GDR, appearing, or example, as a named artist in 1970, 1971, 1972 and 1980 on the bill of Berlin's Festival des Politischen Liedes [Festival of Political Song]. In 1976 he was a signatory against the Ausbürgerung [stripping of citizenship] of the notable songwriter Wolf Biermann.
He was also among the signatories to a demand for artistic freedoms in the GDR in September 1989, and he gave a speech and sang in support of that – and against surveillance by the Stasi – in November 1989 in East Berlin.
He hanged himself, according to reports, while in custody in Moabit in Berlin, facing multiple charges of child abuse. With his artistic reputation unravelling, there is no doubt that how people will view Kurt Demmler's songs will be sorely tested by the events that led up to his trial and which were left unresolved by his suicide. The tales were harrowing.
A huge proportion of Demmler's songs became more closely associated with other performers than with their author. The major acts who have performed Demmler's songs have included Nina Hagen, Veronika Fischer, the Czechoslovakian singer Karel Gott, Karussell, Oktoberklub, the rock band the Puhdys, Dean Reed (known as "the Red Elvis"), the Klaus Renft Combo and the East German rock group Silly. Demmler was also the uncredited contributor to Hagen's hit "Du Hast Den Farbfilm Vergessen" ["You Forgot the Colour Film"] and Renft's "Autostop" ["Hitch-hiking"].
Kurt Demmler, singer-songwriter: born Posen (now Poznan in Poland) 12 September 1943; died Berlin 3 February 2009.
- 1 Florida man sentenced to two-and-a-half years for having sex on the beach in front of a child
- 2 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 3 Nick Kyrgios calls former Olympian Dawn Fraser a 'blatant racist' after she tells Wimbledon star to 'go back where their parents came from'
- 4 World learns of app that shows you who unfriended you on Facebook, app promptly crashes
- 5 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
Greece debt crisis: Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande issue Athens with 24-hour ultimatum to avoid crashing out of the euro
Greece crisis: Referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its lack of genuine legitimacy
£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...
£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...