50 years of Roland Kaiser: He is and remains a hit phenomenon

Countless hits and over 100 million records sold: Roland Kaiser celebrates 50 years on stage with a big show on ZDF.

50 years of Roland Kaiser (71). That’s 50 years of reliable hit happiness – wanderlust and of course a lot of love. 50 years of dreams from an artist who has learned to have both feet on the ground of reality. Who sometimes opens his mouth and becomes unromantic and uncomfortable.

ZDF is celebrating this professional anniversary appropriately. On February 24th from 8:15 p.m. it will be: “Giovanni Zarrella presents: 50 years of Roland Kaiser”. In the three-hour Saturday evening show, friends and companions such as Mary Roos, Thomas Anders, Albert Hammond, Beatrice Egli, Nino de Angelo, Kerstin Ott, Oli.P, Bülent Ceylan, Semino Rossi, Kim Fisher, Melissa Naschenweng, Gregor Meyle and Maite Kelly will be on stage.

A slightly different guest is Bundestag President Bärbel Bas (55, SPD), an avowed admirer. She doesn’t miss the opportunity to personally congratulate. And that doesn’t just have to do with Roland Kaiser’s singing skills.

From foundling to pop star

Roland Kaiser started his career 50 years ago. In 1974 his first single “What has become of her?” was released. He was 22 then and his name was Ronald Keiler. His previous life had nothing to do with the ideal pop world, because his birth on May 10, 1952 was obviously an act of desperation; his 17-year-old mother had abandoned him as a foundling in a basket in front of a West Berlin nunnery.

The surrogate mother worked as a cleaner in the Kurt Schumacher House, an SPD headquarters where the legendary party icon Willy Brandt (1913-1992) also had an office. Little Roland is said to have even sat on his lap once, as his adoptive mother Ella later told him.

The single foster mother was “a very loving, straightforward, honest woman who taught me the values ​​of right and wrong,” the singer remembers. Ella died of a stroke when Roland was 15. He dropped out of secondary school, went to live with an aunt and did a commercial apprenticeship in a car dealership, where he soon became an advertising manager.

At first he had nothing to do with music. Kaiser remembers that he sabotaged music lessons at school by deliberately singing incorrectly until the teacher had enough and kicked him out later in a ZDF film: “Music lessons were one of the best forms of teaching for me because I had time off.”

The fact that he ended up making music was purely a coincidence. He joked with friends that he was at least as good as the guys on the “ZDF hit parade”. Singing for three minutes without falling over, what’s the point?

The friends happened to be music producers who dragged him into the studio for test recordings. They saw the blond, good-looking young man, surfer type, as the ideal pop person, while he thought more of Anglo-American pop music. After all, he sang, and not badly. In the evenings he performed in Berlin bars and at family celebrations, and during the day he worked as a telegram messenger at the post office.

The big breakthrough was the biggest coincidence

He also continued to record records and had his first sales success in 1976 with “Frei, das auch alle”: number 14 in the German charts. A year later he reached number 7 with “Seven Barrels of Wine”. Meanwhile, Ronald Keiler had become Roland Kaiser, “that flows better,” said his producer. His first appearances in the “ZDF hit parade” followed; he even took part in the German preliminary round for the Grand Prix Eurovision with “Here everyone gets their fat” (8th place out of 12 participants), until his big breakthrough came in 1980.

In an interview with “Superillu” He said that this success was also his biggest coincidence so far. He drank a bottle of red wine with his lyricist out of frustration because the original form of “Santa Maria” had just been rejected. “So we thought: So , now you get your package of romance and have taken it to the extreme. Comment from the record company: ‘This is brilliant! We’ll record that.'”

“Santa Maria” became the new number one – and Roland Kaiser the new star in the hit heaven. This was followed by further hits such as “Love me one last time”, “To love you”, “Schach Matt”, “The feelings are free”, “Joana”, “Midnight Lady” and “I think it’s starting again”. Roland Kaiser produced 28 studio albums and sold over 100 million records, and was in the “ZDF hit parade” 67 times with Dieter Thomas Heck (1937-2018) – a record. And he also wrote song lyrics for others, such as Milva, Nana Mouskouri, Peter Maffay and Karat. He himself estimates that there are “300 to 400 songs”.

He was “a wild dog,” says his producer Gerhard Kampf (75), he “loved life, in every respect…” Roland Kaiser believes he was “an asshole,” “a pretty unbearable person, not a lot or even incapable of criticism. What I did and said was simply always right. But luckily I woke up at some point.”

His third marriage brings him great happiness

He has two failed marriages behind him. During the first one (1980-1990) with Christina, he was still an “unsteady person” who couldn’t resist “seductions”. The second, from 1990 to 1995 with the actress Anja Schuete (59, 1990-1995), fell apart because of his workaholism. The third marriage (since 1996) with Silvia was great happiness. The couple lives in Münster with their two children.

At the beginning of 2010 the moment came when nothing worked anymore and Roland Kaiser felt: “I’m sitting on the waiting bench of death.” The former heavy smoker could no longer breathe, turned blue and could hardly move on stage. In some media there was immediate talk of poor lifestyle and drinking, the doctors diagnosed: COPD, an incurable lung disease, the oxygen exchange no longer worked.

Roland Kaiser kept his illness quiet for almost ten years. He was afraid that he would lose the fans’ favor: “Nobody wants to go to a concert with a sick man.” In January 2010 he spoke of the end of his stage career, and a short time later he received new lungs. During the five-hour operation, the doctors are said to have listened to a playlist of Kaiser music…

Comeback with new lungs

The successful transplant is the beginning of a second life. In the same year, the singer celebrated a comeback on Carmen Nebel (67)’s show. So begins a brilliant second part of his career, with new hits (“Why didn’t you say no” with Maite Kelly), new tours, with the autobiographies “Breathing – Everything is possible” and “Sunny Side”. He even has two appearances as an actor: in Münster’s “Tatort: ​​Summ, Summ, Summ” in 2013 he plays the pop star Roman König, who is murdered, and in 2021 he plays himself in “Eisland”.

Kaiser’s lyrics are not only about love, but also about “disturbing emotions of longing, sex and affairs,” as he told WDR. This prompted the “taz” to write an unusual headline about a Kaiser article: “The philosopher trapped in the body of a pop singer.”

He doesn’t mince his words when he says what he can’t sing: The singer, a member of the SPD for over 20 years and a friend of Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier (68), said this on an ARD show shortly before Christmas : “I have to honestly say that anti-Semitism is starting up again in our country. That is something very terrible for me. And I think that is something that should wake us all up and horrify us.”

An artist with attitude

This was not the first time that he raised his voice unequivocally against right-wing extremist activities. In 2015, he gave a speech in front of the Frauenkirche in Dresden, where he gives the popular “Kaisermania” concerts: “Inhumane refugee policy promotes neither understanding nor tolerance… We should be proud that we welcome men, women and children from crisis areas life and a future in security and freedom.”

The “Süddeutsche Zeitung” wrote under the line “Mutbürger”: “Kaiser was actually the only one who dared to do something and took the risk of losing a lot of fans. The quiet fear of it did not overcome him.”

Of course they insulted him for it, he knows that. He experienced this over 30 years ago when he sang a song by Wolfgang Niedecken (72) against hatred and ignorance at a concert and one of the audience shouted: “Sozischwein!” Roland Kaiser interrupted the song and said: “You can collect your entry fee there at the ticket office. I don’t want to sing for people like you.”

The man left and Roland Kaiser continued singing.


source site-31