Kronprinz Huegelhauben what a great one
Excerpts of my life
(more in my current autobiography "Grüß Gott, Hollywood", which will be published by Lübbe on September 9th)
"Now listen to the synthesizers played by this crazy bavarian guy Harold Faltermeyer". In one of the hottest clubs in New York, a DJ recently announced “So Hard” from the Pet Shop Boys album Bahaviour. The so called crazy guy on the synthesizer is me. And despite my career in Hollywood, I'm rarely seen, but heard all the more often. At some point everyone has probably heard my music, from the Donna Summer hit of the 70s Hot stuff up to Axel F. from the film series Beverly Hills Cop or the hymn for Top gun with Tom Cruise.
This is the story of my career, which began in a small suburb of Munich and led to the film mecca of Hollywood. Without a school leaving certificate, but grew up in a musical family and was blessed with perfect pitch and with the goal of becoming a successful musician and standing on the billboards on Sunset Boulevard, according to the music critics, I shaped the synthesizer age of the 70s and 80s Years. I'm at home all over the world, but “at home” in Bavaria, where I hunt and fish and produce my own sausage and beer. I live between two worlds.
I often think about how lucky I was to be able to produce with the best in the industry, on both sides of the Atlantic. Among others with Donna Summer, Amanda Lear, Barbra Streisand, Blondie, Laura Branigan, Billy Idol, Jennifer Rush, Glenn Frey, Bob Seger, Bonnie Tyler, the Pet Shop Boys, Udo Jürgens, Hildegard Knef, Mireille Mathieu, Hanne Haller, Roy Black, Peter Alexander, Peter Hofmann, Wencke Myhre, Katja Ebstein and Rainhard Fendrich.
I was nominated five times for a Grammy and got it twice: in 1986 as co-writer for the original Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack and in 1987 for best instrumental pop performance with guitarist Steve Stevens for Top Gun Anthem, the theme from Top Gun. I composed, among others, Thief of Hearts, Fletch, Running Man, Tango & Cash, Cop Out, Asterix in America, Fire and Ice, Vom sucht undfind der Liebe or the computer games Jack Orlando and Two Worlds.
Roots and childhood - Muttl knew that I would become an artist
Music has always been very important to the Faltermeier family (I only got the "y" in America). My talent for music can be traced back to my great-great aunt Maria Persiveranda, she studied music, achieved a double doctorate, but then went to the monastery. In addition to her musical skills, she was an extremely talented draftsman. My grandfather played the violin, my grandmother had a wonderful voice, my father played the piano. For Muttl it was clear from the beginning that her sensitive, rather quiet firstborn would certainly become an artist. She got the first proof at the age of three, my grandfather gave me a school violin and I immediately redrawn it. When I was six, I announced to my family that I would like to play the piano. Unfortunately, I then found out that being able to play the piano has to do with a lot of practice. I didn't feel like doing that at all. Today I am still not the most gifted piano player. To make matters worse, the piano teacher was very strict, so I was always on the verge of giving up.
I hated practicing, but I always knew that I really wanted to be a musician.
When I was 17, I left school with no qualifications. Nevertheless, my father helped me to get a place at the music college. The rest of my relatives were shocked to see the end of family traditions. They were all academics, doctors and professors, for whom music was at best a hobby. However, my father sensed that there was a talent dormant in me that needed to be promoted. His enthusiasm and support for my music career was certainly related to the fact that, having grown up among the war children, he had never had the opportunity to study music himself.
Then there was this new way of making music; and I really wanted to be there
At that time, the rise of the Beatles and Rolling Stones was in full swing. What new and great music. I really wanted to be there. I founded a small band, Melodic Sounds, together with my brother Ralf and Stefan and Thomas Zauner, who later celebrated great success with their group Münchner Freiheit. We played swing and covered songs by the Beatles, which in the end even gave us our first TV appearances.
When the first synthesizers hit the market, it was immediately clear to me that these sounds could also be combined with classical music. Why do you need an orchestra? I still believe that these two musical worlds make a perfect pair. In 1974 I bought my first synthesizer, an Arp Odyssey, which I was allowed to call my own for four weeks before it was stolen from the studio. It had cost me a proud 2,000 marks, which made the loss particularly painful as I had little money. Of course I never got it back.
As far as the music scene was concerned, Munich was a village. There were only a handful of music studios, and in one of them there was this madman, me, Harold Faltermeyer, who arranged and conducted from the recording desk at the same time. Giorgio Moroder, in the early 1970s, sat in his famous Musicland studio just five kilometers away. He had heard about the newcomer to the music scene, so he called one evening and asked me if I wanted to work with him.
And if I wanted to! Our first collaboration was at noon - Midnight Express. We combined a live orchestra with hard synthesizer sounds. Giorgio was an extremely innovative musician, but not a particularly good technician. When he shot all the pointers were in the red area and everything was distorted. I balanced it out accordingly and together we made a great team. Above all, I appreciated his creativity and his open way of approaching things. A free spirit who played with all possible solutions until he reached his goal. I hate to spend days and weeks in the studio without getting a result. That's how Giorgio works.
My breakthrough came when I was chosen to write arrangements for one of the hottest artists in the world at the time - Donna Summer. I remember exactly how I sat on the plane to Los Angeles and asked myself, "Why did you call me to L.A. of all people?" It was an incredibly big step. It was my very own Alice in Wonderland moment. Giorgio wanted his trusted and loyal troupe to be around and Donna knew me from the old days when she frequented the Munich Tabarin Club and she spontaneously performed with my band. She really wanted me to be there.
I was super nervous to meet all the great musicians in person, such as the Doobie Brothers or Toto and the Eagles, but after a few days we merged into a team. I became one of them and lost all my fears. The first song I wrote for Donna was called Hot Stuff. It became her biggest hit. From then on it became important for my career that I wrote more of my own songs. Later I even produced one of her albums and we stayed in touch as long as she was alive. I last met her at Giorgio's 70th birthday at Spago in Los Angeles. We agreed to meet soon to write some new songs together. Unfortunately, I never saw her again because she died of lung cancer in May 2012.
Axel F. or: where is the orchestra?
Until I try to explain to all sorts of people in the studio what exactly I want, I prefer to do it myself. This is how it was also when dreams were made at night - Thief of Hearts. And it was a jump into the ice-cold water. I had a lot of fun in the studio for two weeks and tried it out until Jerry Bruckheimer called: “When will I get the music? I need it tomorrow! ”I suddenly realized that I had arrived in the first row. Bruckheimer and Simpson didn't want 100%, they wanted 200%. And they made that very clear to me. They pressured me until the very last minute, including at Beverly Hills Cop.
Instrumental versions were absolutely unpopular at the time. The last instrumental version that made it into the Top 40 was Rockit by jazz legend Herbie Hancock. But I insisted on my instrumental version. In 1985 we had developed a completely new aesthetic for a comedy that replaced the orchestras that had been common up to now with synthesizers. We have done pioneering work with it, which is extremely important for a creative person. Back then it was very difficult for producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson to get this kind of film music through at Paramount Studios. On the higher floors at Paramount one was extremely irritated. "Where's the orchestra?" But that was the new thing, not orchestrating every scene. We prevailed successfully with a lot of common fighting spirit. A flood of big city comedies should copy us for years.
MCA Records, which owned the rights to release our soundtrack, were barely interested in my score, they wanted hits. It took some effort to convince her to put some of the score on the album. And to everyone's surprise, Axel F. placed himself in the charts; not only that, it became a landmark in popular music history. The soundtrack first conquered Hollywood, then America, and finally the whole world. The song could be heard everywhere, from coast to coast, on the radio, in the clubs, there was no escape. I couldn't believe it, considering the struggles I had to go through before I brought the walls down. Nothing did as much for the promotion of Beverly Hills Cop as Axel F. The soundtrack landed at number 1 on the album charts in the summer of 1985. And in 1986 I was actually nominated several times for the Grammy: for the best instrumental pop composition, the best instrumental performance and in the category "Best Album of Original Score". We got it for the latter category. My first Grammy! The industry's accolade, the most important award in the music industry. Countless groups later jumped on Axel F.'s triumphant advance. Each generation has shaped its own version, and to this day it is a must for DJs around the world.
To this day I am incredibly proud to have created such a popular piece of music, with no lyrics and no star at all. Years later the makers of Crazy Frog came to me and presented their demo band. I wasn't sure what to make of this. My three children came along by chance and they were thrilled “It's so cool.” So I decided: “It won't hurt anyone, let's get started.” I didn't hear about the song for at least a year until I got a call from the BBC received. They told me we trumped Coldplay four times in sales and that the title hit # 1 out of nowhere. I almost laughed myself to death.
One particularly unusual story related to my film scores happened at Running Man. None of the creative people there, no producer, no director, just nobody. The film was finished, the composer had been fired, there was only me. When I delivered the music, someone from the production department received everything, just said briefly "Thank's" and that was it. With Top Gun the hymn was composed completely before the first flap of the film fell. Jerry Bruckheimer and Tom Cruise liked the piece very much. Tom was personally in the studio when I delivered the first demo.
Unfortunately, after all these films, I was pigeonholed for action films. It was damn hard to get to love films or dramas and that was a shame, because I would have had what it takes to write such film scores.
In the early 90s there was a general antipathy against synthesizers in film music and I decided to return to Germany. There have been so many other projects, primarily raising my three children.
One day you're out and suddenly you're up to date again
On the one hand, it wasn't unexciting to spend the 90s more or less in Munich. I built my own recording studio in my Baldham home to avoid the enormous studio costs. There was no shortage of orders. One of the most exciting record productions I've ever been part of was working with the Pet Shop Boys in my Baldham studio. Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe are listed as the most successful pop duo in British music history in the Guinness Book of Records. Their albums were revolutionary, and the reviews were overwhelming with every new hit. The two boys are enormous talents and as a duo they are a creative force. Being able to work with them and try everything out was a gift. Especially after my work in film, where you hardly had time to implement your ideas, a production time of six months was pure luxury. Our Behavior album was a huge hit. Gold in Germany, platinum in England and number 2 in the Top Ten Album Charts. A trade journalist recently asked me that it was the best album the Pet Shop Boys had ever made. For him and most of the critics, it is "an ambitious and breathtaking pop album that has it all" and "a milestone in pop history a quarter of a century after its publication".
And it's always like this with music: one day you're out and suddenly you're up to date again. There are twelve notes, roughly eight octaves, and millions of ways to combine them. Musicians and composers have always taken elements from their past with them into the present and the future. We have two eyes and two ears. For both, you have to create things that you like, don't you?
This also includes my latest project: Oktoberfest - The Musical, an almost true story. Everything people know about the biggest festival in the world is beer, brass music, dirndl, lederhosen, but hardly anyone knows how it came about. With us it's about the story behind it, that of the wedding between Ludwig I and Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. Like a fairytale uncle, I had told it over and over in Beverly Hills because we grew up with it. When Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810, the subjects were invited to a meadow right outside the gates of Munich to celebrate. In honor of Princess Therese, it became the »Theresienwiese« - and for us locals, the Oktoberfest is still simply »the Wiesn«. And to commemorate the couple, the celebration was turned into a tradition that grew and grew. King and Kingdom are long gone, but over six million people from all over the world come to celebrate every year. That is a great legacy, and we are grateful to this day for the love and the resulting wedding between Therese and Ludwig. What could be a better starting point for a musical than a love story?
When the German producer Andreas Kirnberger asked me two years ago if I would like to compose this musical, which was to be premiered in Los Angeles, the home of the American producer Ginger Perkins, I immediately said yes, because who besides me, the Bavarian composer, who is at home in both worlds should write that otherwise ... A few weeks later I met the author Andreas had chosen, Phil LaZebnik, in the Sunset Tower in West Hollywood. Phil is best known for his work on Pocahontas, Mulan, and The Prince of Egypt. We liked each other straight away, which is always essential for a long-term successful cooperation. But how do you tell the real story behind the Oktoberfest without getting boring historical? We weren't allowed to lose sight of the amusing, enjoyable part. Phil had the perfect idea and constructed a conflict between a somewhat weird hostess of a beer tent who thinks she is a descendant of Ludwig I and wants to tell the real story behind it and a master of ceremonies who is only interested in commerce and mainly a beer at Oktoberfest -oriented-Gaudi-event and asks the audience to dance on the tables. On August 20, 2014, the Oktoberfest Parade was the first finished piece of music. Six months later, after an intensive exchange between Phil's desk in Denmark and my piano in Baldham, I submitted the complete music - as a piano score with sung demos - to the producers and in June 2016 rehearsals began at the Crest Theater in Westwood. The most poignant moment in a musical production is the composer's first reading when you hear that the story works. In addition, with a perfect cast that you can only find in America in such a short time, because here the talents are literally on the street.For me it had a special charm, of all places where my world career began over thirty years ago, to build my studio and to embark on a completely new musical path. And when things go well, the musical goes around the world.
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