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FalcoFebruary 6, 1998 – Falco was born Johann (Hans) Hölzel in Vienna, Austria on February 19th 1957. Falco began to show signs of unusual musical talent very early. As a toddler, he was able to keep time with the drumbeat in songs he heard on the radio. He was given a baby grand piano for his fourth birthday; a year later, his birthday gift was a record player which he used to play music by Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard, and the Beatles. At age five, he auditioned for the Vienna Music Academy, where it was confirmed that he had perfect pitch.

In 1963, Hölzel began his schooling at a Roman Catholic private school; four years later, at age ten, he switched to the Rainer Gymnasium in Vienna. Shortly thereafter his father Alois Hölzel left the family. From then on, Hölzel was raised by his mother and grandmother and remained very close to them all his life.

He left school at sixteen in 1973 due to absenteeism. His mother then insisted he begin an apprenticeship with the Austrian employee pension insurance institute, but this only lasted a short time. At seventeen, he volunteered for eight months of military service with the Austrian army.

In 1974 he became the bassist for the music group, Umspannwerk. He had entered the Vienna Music Conservatory in 1977, but left after one semester to “become a real musician”. For a short time, he lived in West Berlin while singing in a jazz-rock band and exploring the club scene. When he returned to Vienna he was calling himself “Falco”, reportedly in tribute to the East German ski jumper Falko Weißpflog (he changed one letter to make the name more international), and playing in the Austrian bands Spinning Wheel and Hallucination Company.

En route to becoming an international rock star in his own right, he was bass player in the Austrian hard rock-punk rock band Drahdiwaberl (from 1978 until 1983). With Drahdiwaberl he wrote and performed the song “Ganz Wien” (“All of Vienna”), which he would also include on his debut solo album, Einzelhaft (Solitary Confinement). He also played bass with the space disco band Ganymed in 1981.

In 1981, a solo effort written by Robert Ponger and Falco, ‘Der Kommissar,’ reached number one in German-speaking countries and Scandinavia by January 1982 and was followed by his first album, ‘Einzelhaft.’ In 1985 he recorded the single ‘Rock Me Amadeus’ which became a worldwide hit by 1986 topping the charts in the United States, Austria, Canada, Germany, Spain, France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Russia, Sweden, South Africa, and New Zealand. The follow up album, ‘Falco 3′ included ‘Rock Me Amadeus’ as well as a second international hit, ‘Vienna Calling.’

With “Rock Me Amadeus” he is the first and only artist to date whose principal language was German to score a number-one hit in the U.S. His estate claims he has sold 40 million albums and 20 million singles to date, which makes him one the second best selling Austrian singers ever. Udo Jurgens outranks every one with more than 100 million album sales worldwide.

Later that year, he was awarded a Golden Bambi as the most successful German-language pop singer of the year. His international fame faded as quickly it had grown however, and he failed to chart any of his five released albums outside of Germany and Austria after 1987. His attempt to re-enter the American charts with the 1992 song ‘Titanic’ which netted him a number of awards, but failed to chart.

In the spring of 1993 he headed a successful tour of Austria, Germany, Switzerland and European Russia, but he would not record again for three years. In 1996 he released the single, ‘Naked’ which sold well in Austria, but was a flop elsewhere. He began work on an album in the summer of 1997, but remained unhappy with the work throughout, postponing the release date several times.

On February 6, 1998, while vacationing in the Dominican Republic, his car collided with a bus while he reportedly was attempting to merge into highway traffic near the resort city of Puerto Plata. He succumbed to injuries sustained, his body was returned to Austria for burial. The coroner revealed that he was under the influence of alcohol, cocaine and marijuana at the time of the accident.

Falco died of severe head injuries He was 40 years 11 months 18 days old.