Herbert Grönemeyer Biography
Grönemeyer often refers to his personal roots as lying in the German town of Bochum, where he spent most of his childhood, youth and early adulthood. Still today, the song "Bochum", first released in 1984, is one of his signature songs, especially during live performances. Being born in Göttingen and not in Bochum he has his own explanation: "I was only born in Göttingen because my mother often fainted when she was pregnant with me. She did this every time she turned to her left side, and no one believed her. In Göttingen there was a professor, a specialist, and he didn't believe her either, at which point she lay down, fainted, and brought me into the world. This is why I was born in Göttingen."
Grönemeyer's interest in music was sparked at the age of eight, when he started to take piano classes. These later formed the basis for his work as a pianist and composer at the local theatre Schauspielhaus Bochum. In 1979, at the City of Cologne Theatre (Schauspielhaus Köln), using his musical talent to great effect, he gave an excellent performance as Lorenzo in The Merchant of Venice. Although never having attended an acting school he soon appeared in several TV productions. During one of the shootings he met his later wife, the actress Anna Henkel. Additionally, Grönemeyer published an album he had recorded with the jazz formation "Ocean Orchestra" in 1978, a year in which he also composed the music for the film Uns reicht das nicht by Jürgen Flimm, together with Jens-Peter Ostendorf. His first solo album Grönemeyer, which was published in 1979, was awarded the Golden Lemon for the ugliest album cover of the year. His second album Zwo was released in 1981. Neither managed to chart. In the same year he starred in Wolfgang Petersen's successful movie Das Boot as Lieutenant Werner. For the role of composer Robert Schumann in the German-German coproduction Frühlingssinfonie (de) (co-starring Nastassja Kinski and Rolf Hoppe), for which he also composed the film score, Grönemeyer spent six months in the GDR. During the early 1980s Grönemeyer put his main focus on his music; the next two albums Total egal (1982) and Gemischte Gefühle (1983) flopped and most concerts of the planned tour had to be cancelled.
Grönemeyer first met success as a musician in 1984 with the release of 4630 Bochum which became the best-sold album in Germany that year, particularly supported by the singles "Männer" and "Flugzeuge im Bauch". A year later Grönemeyer appeared in the TV-movie Väter und Söhne, co-starring Julie Christie, Burt Lancaster and Bruno Ganz. In his next albums Sprünge (1986) and Ö (1988) he increasingly expressed his political opinion, criticising the government under German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. In 1986 Grönemeyer performed at the Anti-WAAhnsinns Festival against nuclear power and he composed the film score for the TV film Sommer in Lesmona, for which he received the Adolf Grimme Award in gold. The release of his first English album What's all this was followed by a tour through Canada, where it had success in the charts. After the Berlin Wall had fallen Grönemeyer released the album Luxus in which he addressed the feelings in East and West Germany. Having two children together, Felix and Marie, he married his companion Anna Henkel in 1993. In the same year Chaos was released and became a Top 1 hit record in Germany. More than 600,000 people saw the following tour. In 1994, Grönemeyer was the first non-English-speaking artist who was invited by MTV to do an unplugged concert. Four years later Grönemeyer moved to London and released Bleibt alles anders (Everything Remains Different). He also founded his own record label, Grönland Records. In the same year his brother Wilhelm and his wife Anna died of cancer (both dying within 3 days of each other); it took Grönemeyer a year to resume his work. In 2000 he recorded a concert with a philharmonic orchestra and released the DVD Stand der Dinge (State of Affairs). In August 2002 he released his so far most successful album Mensch (Human) which was awarded Platinum even before release due to advance orders. The single "Mensch" became Grönemeyer's first number one hit in Germany and 1.5 million people saw the 2-year tour. In 2004 and 2006 Grönemeyer recorded songs for the Olympic Games in Athens ("Everlasting") and the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany ("Celebrate the Day"), respectively.
In March 2007 he released his 12th studio album 12 which was followed by a stadium tour across German-speaking countries. Smaller concerts took place in September in Amsterdam, Munich, Dresden and London's Royal Albert Hall.
The three re-recorded albums What's all this, Luxus and Chaos for the English-speaking market were met with limited sales success. Grönemeyer was scheduled to make his American debut on 17 September 2007 at the Beacon Theater in New York City, but the performance was cancelled.
In January 2010, Grönemeyer performed the anthem "Komm zur Ruhr" as part of the opening ceremony of the "RUHR.2010" – The city of Essen being the "European Capital of Culture 2010" on behalf of the entire Ruhr area.
His 2011 tour, called Schiffsverkehr, had an audience of 550,000.
I Walk, the English-language debut in the U.S. for Grönemeyer, was released in February 2013 on Grönland Deutschland/EMI Label Services. In early 2013, he played his first American concerts at the Chicago Theatre on 23 February and New York's Irving Plaza on 26 February. His U.S. website later announced 12 tour dates in the U.S. and Canada for September 2013. The album, which includes guest performances from Bono of U2, Antony Hegarty of Antony and The Johnsons, and guitarist James Dean Bradfield of the Manic Street Preachers, was released in the UK in October 2012.
The magazine TIME awarded him the title of "European Hero" in 2005 for his humanitarian work.
Grönemeyer's 2014 album Dauernd Jetzt won the Goldene Kamera award for the best German language album of 2014 and 2015, while Grönemeyer himself received the Best National Music award. In March 2015, Grönemeyer also won an Echo award with this album.