Dec 21, 2014 – Udo Jürgens was born Udo Jürgen Bockelmann on September 30, 1934 in Klagenfurt, Austria. Udo grew up in the family castle Ottmanach in Kärnten with his brothers John (1931) and Manfred (1943). In 1939 he gets a harp (harmonica) as a present and he teaches himself to play national anthems on it. In 1942 he moves up the ladder with an accordeon and six years later he gets his formal music education at the conservatory of Klagenfurt in piano, singing and compositions.
In the 1950 he won a composer contest organized by Austria’s public broadcasting channel ORF with the song “Je t’aime” and he gets his music education on the road with the Udo Bolan band and several other reincarnations. The 50s is a long learning curve and his first record deal comes apart in a big flop and in 1956 he changes his artist name into Udo Jürgens.
But then in 1961 he wrote the 1961 worldwide hit “Reach for the Stars”, sung by Shirley Bassey. In 1964, he represented Austria for the first time at the Eurovision Song Contest with the song “Warum nur warum?”, finishing sixth. The UK participant, Matt Monro, was impressed with the melody and covered the song as “Walk Away”. His song “Sag ihr, Ich lass Sie grüßen” came fourth in 1965’s contest, and on his third try he won the Eurovision Song Contest 1966 in Luxemburg with “Merci, Chérie”, which then becomes a top 10 hit in more than 20 countries.
Over his career, Udo composed close to 1,000 songs, and sold over 100 million records, including “Griechischer Wein”, “Aber bitte mit Sahne”, “Mit 66 Jahren”, and one of his biggest successes “Buenos Días, Argentina”, which he performed together with the Germany national football team in 1978.
On 2 December 2007, hise jukebox musical ‘Ich war noch niemals in New York’ (I’ve never been to New York) opened in Hamburg’s Operettenhaus. It weaves his songs into a familial storyline, similar to the treatment of ABBA songs in Mamma Mia!, the musical it succeeded at the venue.
Udo Jürgens holds the worldwide-record as the artist with the longest presence in the charts ever – more than 57 years from his first entry 1958 till 2015.
He died of acute heart failure in Münsterlingen, Switzerland on Dec 21, 2014 at the age of 80, just two weeks after his last Udo Jürgens Live Concert in Zürich, Switzerland.