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Austrian entertainer Udo Jürgens is 80

Staff reporter · 30 Sep 2014, 13:50

Published: 30 Sep 2014 13:50 GMT+02:00

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He has written more than 800 songs and sold over 100 million records, and is loved for his clever, thoughtful lyrics and memorable melodies.

Vienna's weekly magazine Falter describes him as "the most important, greatest entertainer and musician that Austria produced after the Second World War."

He is credited with broadening German-language pop beyond the traditional postwar Schlager music by infusing it with a modern appeal. He has fans of all ages and continues to be popular in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

In 1964, Jürgens represented Austria for the first time at the Eurovision Song Contest with the song Warum nur warum?, finishing sixth. In 1966 he won the competition with Merci, Cherie which became one of his best-loved songs. It sold over one million copies, and he was awarded a gold disc by Deutsche Vogue in 1966.

In the following years, he wrote some of his most famous songs, like Griechischer Wein, Aber bitte mit Sahne, Mit 66 Jahren, and - one of his biggest successes - Buenos Días, Argentina, which he performed together with the German national football team in 1978.

He was in Berlin when the Wall fell in 1989 and East Germans flocked to West Berlin. He said that “people were ecstatically hugging strangers in the street” and claims to have had 5,000 Deutsch Marks and slipped hundred Mark notes into people’s pockets, secretly.

One of his trademarks when he performs live is to wear a bathrobe for his encore and sing alone at the piano. A controversial "bathrobe parade" was held in Vienna on Tuesday in his honour. 

He was born in 1934 in Klagenfurt, Carinthia, and grew up playing the harmonica, accordion, and piano. He was made to join the Hitler Youth and a brutal slap in the face whilst he was there almost lost him his hearing in one ear.

He has Swiss, as well as Austrian, citizenship and lives in a lavish villa on Lake Zurich.

He famously said that “life begins at 66, and that’s when you really begin to have fun”. Retirement just doesn’t seem to be on the cards as he has just released a new album called Mitten im Leben, and plans to tour in October.

Jürgens sings Aber bitte mit Sahne, 1976

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Staff reporter (news@thelocal.com)

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