Bert Kaempfert

Born in Hamburg, Germany on October 16, 1923, Bert Kaempfert was a German conductor, producer, arranger, and composer. Born Berthold Heinrich Kämpfert, he was, along with James Last, Germany's most famous post-World War II conductor. In the late 1940s, Bert Kaempfert began composing and arranging for public radio station NWDR and for Polydor Records. The distinct Bert Kaempfert sound developed rapidly and was mainly characterized by the rhythm section consisting of Rolf Ahrens (drums), Karl-Heinz ‘Kuddel’ Grewe (double bass), and Ladislav ‘Ladi’ Geisler (guitar and bass). In 1959, Bert Kaempfert arranged "Die Gitarre und das Meer" for Freddy Quinn and "Morgen" for Ivo Robić . Both songs became hits and also enjoyed international success when they were covered in English. Bert Kaempfert adapted the German folk song "Muss i denn zum Städtele hinaus" for Elvis Presley, who made it a hit under the title "Wooden Heart" (1961). In 1960, Bert Kaempfert reached the top of the American charts with his album Wonderland by Night, achieving gold disc status. The single of the same name also reached number 1 in the USA and kick-started Bert Kaempfert's rise to international stardom. In June 1961, Bert Kaempfert produced recordings for Polydor with English singer Tony Sheridan, whom he had discovered at the Top Ten Club in Hamburg. The band accompanying Tony Sheridan on the recordings was then named The Beat Brothers but was later revealed to be The Beatles. These recordings are why Bert Kaempfert is now often referred to the man that discovered and first produced the Liverpudlian group. Bert Kaempfert's other hit singles included "Afrikaan Beat" (1962), "Red Roses for a Blue Lady" (1964), and "Moon Over Naples" (1965). In 1966, two international artists took up two of Bert Kaempfert's compositions: Al Martino scored a hit with "Spanish Eyes" and Frank Sinatra turned "Strangers in the Night" into one of his signature songs. Later, Frank Sinatra included three more Bert Kaempfert compositions in his show program: "The World We Knew" (1967), "My Way of Life" (1968), and "You Turned My World Around " (1974). In the 1970s, the burgeoning wave of disco music took precedence over Bert Kaempfert's orchestral music, and his international success began to wane. Nevertheless, he remained a popular guest on German television and maintained a core of older fans. Over the course of his long career, Bert Kaempfert wrote around 400 compositions and 750 orchestral arrangements. He sold over 150 million records worldwide and is now considered one of the fathers of the easy listening genre. Following a stroke, Bert Kaempfert died on June 21, 1980, at the age of 56.

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