There are these days in life which you remember. The days you exactly remember what you did on that day. To me, one of them is the 9th May 1998, exactly 25 years ago. I have been in Birmingham, United Kingdom. The reason was a guy whose civil name is Horst Köhler, just like the former German President. However, Germany knew and knows him rather as Guildo Horn – and after that day in Birmingham, everybody knew Guildo Horn and his band, Die Orthopädischen Strümpfe (“The Orthopedic Stockings”). The reason: his performance of Guildo Hat Euch Lieb!. Truly a Song of my Life.
Guildo Hat Euch Lieb! – The Story of the Song
In the German music scene, two things felt to be really unpopular during the early to mid 1990s. First of all, the German schlager genre was absolutely down. People regarded it to be too stereotypical and boring. There just felt to be one musical thing which the people made even more jokes about: the Eurovision Song Contest (which at these times typically rather was named Grand Prix Eurovision in line with the French wording). The competition has been supported by a very brave fan scene – but outside this bubble, Germany struggled with the songs representing the country and the results. Even Mekado’s third place (with wir geben ‘ne Party) in 1994 did not change it.
The time between 1995 and 1997 were maybe the darkest ages for Germany. Verliebt in Dich by Stone & Stone just got a point, awarded from Malta (German comedian Oliver Kalkofe stated later: “They have nice people in Malta, but these people have a terrible taste of music”) in 1995. One year later, Planet of Blue by Leon was that weak that Germany did not even qualify for the competition. This is the only time in ESC that this happened, Germany is typically automatically qualified as a “Big 4” country. Bianca Shomburg finishing 18th (out of 25) in 1997 did not really raise public support.
Dark Ages – and then came Guildo Horn
As said, in parallel, schlager lost more and more popularity. However, there were some artists like Dieter Thomas Kuhn or Guildo Horn who seemed to attract new (and younger) people to the Germany. They were different, did not take their performances too seriously and broke with traditions. Guildo Horn, a 1963-born artist and actor from Triier was famous for his energetic performances – and for bringing Nussecken, a traditional German nut-based pastry to his concerts. Horn had his first appearance in the famous German TV show Hitparade in 1994. His concerts became more and more popular. Later, he even played at rock festivals like Rock am Ring, which illustrates his popularity.
In 1997, Guildo Horn enrolled to the qualifications for the Eurovision Song Contest. There were quite some controversial thoughts about it. The largest German newspaper Bild titled “Shall this guy sing for Germany?”. Finally, this rather boosted Guildo Horn’s success. The song Guildo hat Euch lieb! (“Guildo loves you”) was written by Stefan Raab. The German show host represented Germany himself with Wadde hadde dudde da?, finishing fifth. The German national selection was held in February 1998 in Bremen. Horn received almost two thirds of the votes – against nine other competitors.
Guildo Horn in Birmingham
Thus, Guildo Horn stepped on stage of the National Indoor Arena (now: Utilita Arena) for Germany on 9th May 1998. His performance was remarkable in many regards. The most difficult task for the BBC was that Guildo Horn left the stage and interacted with the audience during his three minute performance. The performance video above also illustrates how he kisses the back of the head of a member of the security staff. His show was definitely the most remarkable one of the evening.
Finally, Israel’s Dana International won with the song Diva. Guildo Horn had won as well. People in Germany and German-speaking countries followed the competition again and schlager felt to be nicer than at the beginning of the decade. One of the reasons the song finally finished seventh was that the hype around the song was so strong that people traveled to neighbor countries to be able to do the televoting from there (counted as votes in that country). Germany received the douze points (12 points, best song score) from Spain (Mallorca calling?), Switzerland and the Netherlands. You have to note that Austria, Luxembourg and other neighbor countries were not allowed to vote at the 1998 ESC.
Guildo hat Euch lieb! peeked fourth in the German charts, the corresponding album Danke! (“Thanks”) third and got a golden record. However, in the following years, more and more original band members left the band and had to be replaced. Guildo Horn also tried to co-release a movie in 1999. While his live shows still stayed very popular, his recording and media success faded. Nowadays, he is still very popular at regular concerts (like his annual Christmas concerts), as a radio host and as a brave supporter of several charities.
Guildo Horn changed the Eurovision Song Contest as well. The broadcasting EBU tried to ban voting in other countries than your own one in the future. Germany had one of his most successful ESC times in the last three decades starting with Guildo Horn. With Reise nach Jerusalem by Sürpriz (1999), Stefan Raab in 2000 and the 2001 Wer Liebe lebt by Michelle, Germany was in the Top 10 four timesin a row. Until now, this has never happened again. From 2019 to 2022, Of course, Lena’s 2010 victory with Satellite (by the waay, also supported by Stefan Raab) was a golden moment for the country at the competition. From 2019 to 2022, Germany always finished last (2020 not held due to Covid-19).
Guildo Hat Euch Lieb! – My Story of the Song
I ran into Guildo Horn and his music in the mid-1990’s, not only as he has always been a supported of “my” soccer club, 1. FC Köln. Until today, Guildo Horn and his band are likely the musical act I have seen on stage most of the times in my life. However, all shows have been between the mid-1990’s and mid 2000’s. A key reason why I moved away more and more from his songs was that I did not like his new style and missed his former Orthopädische Strümpfe band members. There were some really talented replacements like August Schrader and Jens Streifling, who are still big names in the Rheinland music scene – but they left Guildo Horn comparably quick as well.
Apart from many cool concert moments, one day I will never forget was this 9th May 1998. There were numerous travels to the event from Germany – and I flew from Cologne to Birmingham, staying in a nice hostel in town and soaked up the amazing ESC atmosphere. Even though I had rather lousy seats, the whole event, meeting so many people from so many places definitely has been a great memory – but also a life changer to me. I feel that this trip was also an important step for me, which one year later made me go to the tennis US Open for the first time, for example. This is when I first ran into my all-time sports idol Leander Paes.
The ESC stayed special to Me
I just haven’t made it to see another ESC: When Lena brought he ESC to Dusseldorf, I just could not make it. I am sure I will come back one day – and I am sure I will love it. Like big sports events (for example world championships in ice hockey or floorball), people coming together and just celebrating the event, being together and becoming friends (even though they might support different teams) is amazing to me. Guildo hat Euch lieb! has also been a peace message to the world. He likely did not change Europe on that evening. But sometimes it is just good for me to remind me of that 9th May 1998 in Birmingham.
Thank you, Andreas Pierre Kertzman Niesen and Rainer Elute Kind
I also decided to write this posting in order to honor the wonderful original guitar player of the Orthopädischen Strümpfe named Pierre Kertzman, named Andreas Niesen in civil life. I had a bit of contact to him even after he left the band. Niesen died in December 2017 by a heart attack at the age of 58.
Not as dramatic, but whenever I think about these days, I also think about Rainer Elute Kind. He was the drummer of the Orthopädischen Strümpfe and later did the drums for acts like Matthias Reim. He is by far the German drummer I have seen most frequently on stage – and I always love his style when I see him playing. Thanks, Elute, for all the great moments.
Guildo Hat Euch Lieb! – Spotify and Lyrics
You can find the lyrics of the song at genius.com, for example.
Here is the song on Spotify:
As a 25th anniversary edition, Guildo Horn re-recorded Guildo Hat Euch Lieb!, including the pop version close to the original
Songs Of My Life Playlist
I created a playlist with all the Songs Of My Life songs so far. It will be updated with very new episode:
Easy, German language pop – here are all postings about German Schlager on Flyctory.com:
Flyctory Obscura-tagged reviews represent weird, unique, entertaining places of all kind: