Once it was decided that we were going to Hamburg, I decided to do some research and see if there were any of the famous Germans I knew of were from Hamburg. In particular, I wanted to know if any of the musicians or bands I’m a fan of happened to be from the area. The answer, unsurprisingly, was yes.
Holger Hiller was born in Hamburg. He played in various local bands, founded a band called Palais Schaumberg, then went on to a solo career in which he created the first album to be constructed entirely of samples from other albums—and a length of plastic drainpipe. He moved to Berlin in 2003.
Also from Hamburg were Xmal Deutschland, all-female Gothic/new wave band signed to 4AD records in the 1980s. Vocalist Anja Huwe has gone on to be a serious artist, and still lives in Hamburg.
TRIO aren’t from Hamburg; they’re from Großenkneten, which is about 150km south west, the other side of Bremen. You can tell because they printed their home address on the front of their first album. Like the Beatles, they played sleazy Hamburg clubs in their early days. They’re best known outside Germany for their one international hit, Da da da ich lieb dich nicht du liebst mich nicht aha aha aha. The concept of the band was to strip down popular music as far as possible; the drummer had a ‘kit’ comprised of one bass drum, one snare drum and a cymbal, musical accompaniment was largely provided by a single guitar, and the vocalist (Stephan Remmler) also played Casio toy keyboards on some tracks.
Stephan Remmler has gone on to have a solo career, and I discovered that he released a new album with a very electronic and TRIO-like sound earlier this year.
I’m not entirely sure if Eloy are from Hamburg, but their first album was recorded there. They’re a kind of prog rock/heavy metal mix with Buddhist influences.
KMFDM started out in Hamburg. I don’t think I need to say anything more about them, they’re well enough known worldwide.
And that’s about it, as far as I know. Most of the other German bands I’ve heard of are from Düsseldorf (Die Krupps, Kraftwerk, Westbam, NEU!, Die Toten Hosen, Mouse on Mars) or Berlin (Tangerine Dream, Nina Hagen, Rammstein, Stereo Total).
Other famous Hamburgers include Heinrich Hertz (first to demonstrate electromagnetic radiation), and fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld. Oh, and Telemann and Brahms.