Roy Black died 30 years ago on October 9, but is still unforgotten today. His manager Wolfgang Kaminski remembers.
Thirty years ago, on October 9, 1991, hit legend Roy Black (1943-1991) died at the age of only 48. His hits like “All in White” or “You’re Not Alone” have not been forgotten to this day. Many of his fans also fondly remember the series “Ein Schloss am Wörthersee”, in which Roy Blacks was seen as Lennie Berger.
His manager Wolfgang Kaminski looks back on the time together with Gerhard Höllerich – Roy Black’s real name. In an interview with the news agency spot on news, he talks about the myths surrounding the star and talks about personal and professional experiences with the singer and actor.
How did you become his manager?
Wolfgang Kaminski: Roy Black’s career stalled. He was on the decline, the great successes were a few years ago. I myself worked as an organizer in the music industry and previously worked with Udo Jürgens and Heino. On April 30, 1977 I hired Roy Black in Hagen. On that day we spoke to each other personally and privately for the first time. After the concert, I got a payment back from Gema that Roy Black would have allowed. I called Roy’s brother Walter, who was managing his office at the time.
During the conversation he said that he and Roy were in Dinslaken at the weekend and asked if I would like to join them. I said yes. We had dinner together and the two asked if I would like to organize a tour. The next day I started organizing. This resulted in the so-called pool tour in 1978, which lasted two months. That way we got to know each other better. One day during the tour he had a phone call with his brother Walter and asked me from the phone booth if I could imagine taking over the complete management. And from that moment on, I was not only Kaminski’s organizer, but Roy Black’s artist manager as well.
You have been his manager over the years, but have also become a good friend. How would you describe this relationship?
Kaminski: At first he was the only artist I had in my management. Later on, Helmut Zacharias, Dschinghis Khan and Tommy Steiner and the Wind group joined them. Back then, I still went to all events with Roy, regardless of whether it was gigs, television or recordings. This resulted in ever closer and more trusting cooperation. Each got to know the life of the other very well. He stayed with me and my family very often when he came back from traveling. My wife and my son, who was seven or eight years old at the time, got to know him very well. Conversely, when it went south, I was often with him and his then wife Silke overnight.
Was it also a problem that professional and private overlap so often?
Kaminski: No, that was an advantage. We were both full of enthusiasm. He was someone who had already experienced all the highlights, I didn’t know that in this form, and he wanted to go back there. It was a great opportunity for me. It would have been more of a disadvantage if Roy Black had still been so mega successful. So I also had time to take a breather and build it up again in slow steps.
Roy Black and Gerhard Höllerich are often described as two different people. The one personable and radiant, an artist personality, and the other highly sensitive and full of doubts. How do you remember him as a person?
Kaminski: You can’t even pull this separation. It was always said that he was acting in some form. Of course, the job brings certain difficulties. You go on stage in the evening, sing a song, people cheer and you ask yourself: Have I really done enough? But I’ve never seen two separate personalities exist. I think in every job you have doubts about what you are doing. He did that too. He never had the goal of being as successful as he was in his life plan. Even when he was supposedly away from the window, as was popularly written in the past, he still had great success and made a lot of money.
Roy Black was very close to nature. During the day he went on long, sometimes adventurous hikes. In the evening there was the transformation: showering, putting on a tuxedo, going on stage. Of course, that’s a bit of a contradiction in terms. But that’s the same in every profession. With Roy Black this is always hyped up, which is total nonsense.
Is there a memory of him that stuck in your head in particular?
Kaminski: Not one, there are an incredible number of them. There were many things that we shared with enthusiasm. We both enjoyed racing bikes and sailing. We have done the pool tour again and again in the years together. I had a boat up on the Baltic Sea. Roy had rented a little house in Großenbrode and from there we drove to the individual concerts in a star shape. During the day we went sailing with my family. We always had our racing bikes on the roof of our car when we were out and about.
Of course, the concerts were always associated with a high level of concentration and professionalism. But we enjoyed our work. It was a youthful lightheartedness not to have to earn any money either. In these years we have practically extended our youth.
Roy Black used to sing a lot of rock and roll. Then he became a hit star. Some companions have said that he would have much rather become a rock musician than a pop singer. How do you see it
Kaminski: That is an image that is always presented that way. Speaking of lightheartedness: he could have done that. Economically, he could always have afforded to get out completely. At the concerts on stage you could see that he was having fun. Of course, you can’t still sing “All in White” with fervor and emotion for the thousandth time. Of course that is also a form of acting. That was part of it. But there was nothing he didn’t want to sing. Who should have made him do it? The record company doesn’t, and neither do I. If someone has so much money that he won’t have to work for the rest of his life, he doesn’t need to.
His death on October 9, 1991 came as a very great shock to many. How did you experience that day?
Kaminski: The final scenes of “Ein Schloss am Wörthersee” were filmed shortly beforehand in Verona. There was a big party at the end of the shoot. Then he said goodbye to everyone. To this day the legend remains that the farewell was different than usual. It is often the case with last encounters that something is interpreted into it after death – a myth that never existed. Roy drove to his fishing hut in Heldenstein, east of Munich, to spend the night. His plan was actually to go to Munich to see his lawyer and then to Herdecke to see his partner Carmen Böhning and his baby Nathalie, who was just a few weeks old. On October 8th we talked several times on the phone, but on October 9th I couldn’t get in touch with him.
Towards evening I asked his brother Walter, who lives about 45 minutes away from Heldenstein, to have a look. The news came later that he had found him dead. The next morning I announced to Westdeutscher Rundfunk that Roy Black had died. In the eight o’clock news, the sentence fell: Yesterday evening in the Bavarian Heldenstein Roy Black died at the age of 48. That was the second that I really realized that Roy Black was dead. The news from Walter was still so unreal. Hearing it from the newscaster was suddenly so official and official. Then the avalanche broke out, journalists tried to speak to his family and get me as a manager. 8,000 people attended his memorial service on October 16. Back then I had the feeling that the world was standing still. The death of Roy Black was the dominant theme. I have never seen such interest in a death before or since.
How did you personally deal with the loss?
Kaminski: Roy Black was a public figure. His funeral was held in public. He was later cremated and the urn was buried in close family circles. It was all very mechanical. Back then I often didn’t have time to think about the fact that Roy Black is no longer alive. There were still so many things going on around him. I was still busy with so much work because there were so many inquiries. It’s actually like today. We’re still talking about death now. Over time, more and more untrue stories were added. I always asked myself: How would Roy want you to react? I’ve been offered huge sums of money to divulge secrets that never existed. It is better to stick to the truth.
Even today – 30 years after his death – everyone still knows Roy Black’s name …
Kaminski: Graves will be leveled after about 25 years if you don’t extend the time. Roy Black has been dead for 30 years and is still being talked about. He is still a legend and we will remember him as a 48-year-old. That’s madness.
Do you still have contact with his family, with his children or with the partner he had back then?
Kaminski: No, not at all. But I still have very good and cordial contact with his brother Walter. We talk on the phone now and then. These are conversations that usually take a long time and are very intense. Walter also has a speaking voice similar to that of Roy. This is a contact that I am very happy about.