Udo Jürgens: Pianist and singer who recorded more than 800 songs and ruled the world of German-speaking pop

His career took off after impressive performances in the Eurovision Song Contest in the 1960s, culminating in his 1966 win for Austria with 'Merci, Cherie'

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The Independent Online

Born in Austria, Udo Jürgens dominated pop music in the German-speaking world and sold more than 100 million records in a career spanning five decades. He brought piano artistry and clever, introspective lyrics to German Schlager songs (sentimental ballads and light pop tunes). He burst on to the scene in the 1960s with a succession of catchy numbers, later infusing his music with a growing social consciousness.

His career took off after a series of impressive performances in the Eurovision Song Contest in the mid-1960s, culminating in his 1966 win for Austria with "Merci, Cherie" ("Thanks, Darling"). "Warum nur, warum" became a No 1 in France. "Walk Away," an English-language version sung by Matt Monroe, went to No 1 in Britain. Monroe then bought the English rights to "Sag' ihr...," ("Tell her...") producing the worldwide hit "Without You".

Jürgens recorded more than 800 songs; a 1969 poll showed him as one of three most beloved figures for Germany's young people, alongside John F Kennedy and Mao Zedong. His 1970 tour of Central and Eastern Europe attracted more than 500,000 people to more than 200 concerts.

Despite settling in Switzerland, he remained passionate about Germany and its politics. He clashed with the Catholic Church over abortion, right-wing extremists for using one of his songs and the government in Berlin over economic and social questions. He also made successful forays into classical music; in 1979 he composed Wort [Word] for the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

Udo Jürgen Bockelmann (Udo Jürgens), musician: born Carinthia, Austria 30 September 1934; twice married (four chjildren); died 21 December 2014.