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KDM Interview ... renewed April 2007|
The original interview was made in the year 2001 and is still to read in www.eurock.com
The following is a corrected and updated version that I did in spring 2007 - kdm
Klaus D. Mueller has been one of EUROCK's best "friends" over the last 25 years in Germany. Over that time many phone calls; faxes and emails have been exchanged all in the service of information and support for each other's cause. Along the way we talked about many aspects of our life and love of music. It was both educational and fun.
As friend, "manager" and publisher for Klaus Schulze since the beginning, KDM was been involved in the German music scene and has done every kind of work to help make the music happen over the years. He's set up equipment, promoted concerts, started labels, hustled record companies, done favors for fans, and ruffled a few feathers along the way as any outspoken, dedicated promoter and crusader will. He's grown up with music of some sort always in his life, and is one of the few who will always give me his good advice when I ask. Even when he was critical, there was a little smiley face next to his comment and I respect what he says.
As EUROCK began again to focus on net-journalism in the year 2001, I wanted to do interviews with the artists and people whom I respected and felt deserved perhaps long overdue recognition for their many years of making or supporting the music. KDM is high on the list of people who qualify. I hope you enjoy his story. (Archie Patterson)
Q: Do you remember actually when and what was the very first record you heard, or bought, all those many years ago in your youth?
First, when I was a child, it was the usual "Schlager" (hits) of the day, German "Schlager" of course; the titles and names would mean nothing to you. Later I learned that these songs were often just cover versions of American pop hits. I was very young then. The older ones, parents or uncles etc. still loved and listened (and sung) the German songs from their younger years, from the thirties and forties.
I remember hearing at a cousin's home the 78 rpm Schellack with "Rock Around the Clock" by guess who, over and over again. I loved it. Must have been around 1955 and I was ten or eleven.
Later it were already my own singles; I had chosen them by song not by artist, then, in the mid to late fifties, and it was mostly American pop music of the time, 1955 to '60. We could hear the AFN radio here in Berlin, and especially the programme "Frolic at Five" from five past five to six in the afternoon, hosted by American George Hudak; the opening music was always the same: "9:20 Special" by the Harry James Orchestra; but this I found out only much later. This program was not just my favorite, but all Berlin teenagers did listen to it. Here we heard the hot music of the day and from God's Own Country that was never (never!) played on any German radio: Eddie Cochran, The Drifters, Bobby Day, The Everly Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, Fats Domino, Paul Anka, Little Richard, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Brenda Lee, The Coasters, Ricky Nelson, Bobby Helms, Duane Eddy, Connie Francis, Wanda Jackson, The Kingston Trio, The Ventures, Don Gibson, Neil Sedaka, Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Johnny and the Hurricanes, Bobby Freeman, Freddy Cannon, Lloyd Price, (I have to admit, also:) Pat Boone, etc.
It's maybe forgotten today, but, there was no "youth culture" in Germany and in Europe, the teenagers were not seen yet as important customers. Blue jeans were just coming up (only one brand: the now classical Levi's. And just one shop here offered them, a shop in Berlin-Neukoelln that was specialized in working clothes(!) I still know the price for a pair of Levi's: 24,95 DM, which was already then a high price for a pair of trousers, especially for a teenager (the weekly salary for a simple working man was 100 DM). Later there was a second shop in Berlin-Moabit who was specialized in used US army clothes and other stuff that the US army didn't use anymore (Remember: Berlin was occupied by the American Forces, also the Brits, Russians and French). Of course, these "Blue Jeans" were hated by older people, parents, teachers. Same as they hated a haircut like Elvis'. Still today, it's always the "loud" music, the clothes, and the haircuts that the older ones hate. I know what I'm talking about, I'm one of those today :-)
"Black" music was not so often played on the AFN radio during the fifties; I don't remember hearing much of Chuck Berry or Bo Diddley then, on this American soldier's radio. Instead of Ivory Joe Hunter's or Little Richard's originals they played the white copies by Pat Boone etc. Only much later I realized this ...and the huge differences between the black originals and the softened white covers.
My first single that was of any importance to me had a black label, and it was "Just Walking in the Rain" by Johnny Ray.
When I was 14 or 15, I discovered Dixieland music, cheap Dixieland I must confess. Dixie was then a short fashion in Europe. From Dixie came Lonnie Donegan ("Rock Island Line" etc.) and for a short time I was into Skiffle, which led automatically to... Alexis Korner's first album was an eye-opener... and from here I went on to discover the originals: Big Bill Broonzy, Josh White, Leadbelly, and all the black singers, guitar pickers, harmonica and piano players of the thirties and forties, and finally from the fifties: the rhythmic, hot and loud Chicago blues of Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, Chuck Berry, Little Walter, Bo Diddley, Howlin' Wolf, and also John Lee Hooker (no Chicagoan). From 1962 on, I could see some of them in Berlin, in concert at those (today) famous annual "American Folk Blues Festivals." See, sociologically I had the same musical education as, for instance, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, or Van Morrison; all of my generation.
I changed very quickly from cheap Dixieland to real historic jazz, up to "modern" jazz. Always, and still, it's the Blues.
Q: When you were growing up what was your favorite type of music?
Just as described: Mostly the more "hot" music of the days, the more emotional, rhythmic and wild stuff: Rock 'n' Roll. I could sing-a-long with most of these songs, but without knowing (and caring) what I do sing! Today, more than forty years later, when I listen accidentally to some of these old songs again, sometimes I realize for the first time the lyrics and what they mean. I must confess, that for me the lyrics never had the same importance as the music. Even Bob Dylan's! (I prefer to read lyrics, printed, not sung. Of course there are exceptions).
Yes, it's Blues and Jazz from the past & present. I was very much into Charles Mingus & John Coltrane when they did their new things for the first time. But I also loved the classic things from the twenties, thirties and forties, from King Oliver over Fletcher Henderson, Benny Goodman, Lester Young, Billie Holiday, to Charlie Parker and Dizzy. And before I forget him: Ray Charles was always a favorite of mine. I mean his albums in the fifties, on the "Atlantic" label. I even danced wildly to "What'd I Say" in a Berlin club, circa 1960 (the "Dachluke", the world's first "discotheque" where I also had a part-time leisure job then)
I even followed the fashion of "free jazz", but only for a short time. Also, "fusion" was never to my taste. And proudly I say that I never owned one "ECM" album because it has no "balls", it's what I used to call "music for women and students" or "Hausfrauenjatz" :-) The only contact to ECM was a short meeting with its founder in Munich when I was on tour with the jazz pianist Paul Bley. One of ECMs first albums was then a Paul Bley album.; but I had nothing to do with it, professionally. Paul Bley's version of Carla's "Ida" is still one of my favourite songs! (on the ESP label)
At the end of the sixties I also had my listening experiences with some rare and exotic LPs which contained some not less exotic "electronic" music; mostly not a fun to listen to, just what one would call "very interesting". Terry Riley was a bit different: more listenable, and not all those abstract and often ugly sounds. I even worked for Mister Riley at a concert in Berlin. But I also worked for Stephane Grappelly once. And with Marty Feldman (no relation to Morton F. :-) ...beside others.
Q: You are a collector of information and music - do you have still today a large collection of records and CDs?
Still as a child, around 1958 or '59, I gave away my "collection" of Rock 'n' Roll (must have been circa twenty singles and EPs) in exchange for the same amount of Skiffle singles. Soon, I also dropped Skiffle and started collecting Jazz and Blues, seriously for about ten years, buying deleted and rare LPs (or even 78s schellack) at auctions, etc. I was really into that scene. In 1970 I realized that I just collected, but rarely listened anymore to the music on all the many LPs I had bought. The pile of yet-to-hear newly purchased LPs got bigger and bigger. As a result I sold the whole collection of albums, EPs, singles, even my little Schellack stock, and I also sold about 200 jazz books (discographies etc.) to a Belgian collector. ... A week later most of the money was stolen from me :-(
I started to collect again (only jazz and blues) in 1985, and in the mid nineties I had the whole history of this lone genuine American art form on records, again.
PS: In early 2006 I have sold my whole LP collection of the jazz & blues history, again. The dealer got from me also one hundred unwanted jazz CDs and a few jazz books, I mean: in addition and for free, because I needed the space. A warning to other collectors who will not get younger: Get rid of the stuff; your widows will bring all that "junk" anyway to the dumping-grounds. Nobody cares about how valuable the records were to you. Nobody sees in them "rarities" - but just many unwanted pieces of plastic. A second warning: don't expect to get paid a fortune for the whole: one Euro for each album is the "normal" price ...if you find a dealer at all. end of PS
Q: During the beginnings of German rock in Berlin. What were the first bands you remember starting up in Berlin?
If I remember well, I first worked with "Agitation Free", their friends from "Os Mundi", and soon: "Ash Ra Tempel" and "Tangerine Dream". Or was it the other way round, first A.R.T.? I also worked for a lesser-known (but very professional) band that played in American soldiers' clubs on weekends. I forgot the combo's name. (PS: Their guitar player Molli is also to hear on "The Private Tapes", Vol. 5, which I produced for "Ash Ra Tempel" in 1996). I carried the quartet's equipment and connected it on stage: guitar, organ, bass, drums.
With Agitation Free we had wonderful concert tours in France. But my main job in music (besides jobs outside the music, to make a living) was being the tour manager for English or American artists in 1970 to '73. It were soloists, groups, even big orchestras: Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington, Paul Bley, Van der Graaf Generator, Baden Powell, Marty Feldmann, ... etc. First for 30 then for 50 DM a day. In Berlin I also worked for unknown rock bands, I took every job that was available. I remember some strange time being the roadie for "The Flying Lesbians". I even went with them in a truck (borrowed from Agitation Free) to a huge lesbian's meeting in Denmark. Nice girls, but musically they were awful. Maybe it was an early form of "punk rock"? They rehearsed (with no audible success) in the same rooms under the roof of an industrial building in Berlin-Kreuzberg, the same rooms that "Agitation Free" used, and "Os Mundi", and partly also "Tangerine Dream": they recorded "Electronic Meditation" there, but that was two years before my time. In 1974, one of "our" rooms under this roof was rented by the brothers Schunke & Klaus Schulze, they built their "artificial head" recording studio in it.
I also built a little recording studio in these rooms, and with the help of Udo Arndt (guitar player from Os Mundi, and a very good sound engineer) I recorded some "Agitation Free" sessions on my two track Revox, for private use. Later I gave the tapes to Lutz Ulbrich and I think it was released on the "Agitation Free" album "Last" (?). And I put some of my amateurish pop-art paintings on the walls of these rooms. Years later the same rooms under the roof at Kreuzberg's Paul-Lincke-Ufer were still used by rock groups, among them also Nina Hagen's. Probably my paintings were still hanging there at the walls? Anyway, today it's all renovated and sold as "Lofts" to wealthy architects, advertisement people, and other yuppies.
Q: It seems to me that Berlin always had a tradition of avant-garde and artistic types living there. Am I right in this? In the early days were there places for the first bands to play and a scene of any sort there in say 1966, '67,'68' '69?
Remember, during the ninetieen-twenties Berlin was the center of the world! It's still a large city and after WW2 the cultural scene was (and still is) very much supported by the government, I mean moneywise. And of course just for the "serious" arts. This brings a lot of "avant-garde" to the foreground; also a kind of avant-garde that is forgotten very fast (and this is good so). But I also remember good and interesting art, with or without government money: the "Living Theater" visited Berlin, they were a sensation, it was a release and awaking. Also the small concerts of the first free jazz musicians like Peter Brötzmann (at the Galerie Hammer) were great then - young Brötzmann was really energetic and impressive. His Dutch drummer Han Bennink was of the same quality.
In the early seventies, for little money, I did the furniture removal for an American with the name of Steve Reich (yes, him! still unknown then), who was a citizen of Berlin then, a kind of exchange "student". I did the same job for Ax Genrich when he left Berlin and moved to Heidelberg. From Axel's wife I got a very beautiful handmade (American Indian) belt which I still have (!). Good memories.
Of course, the government did NOT support rock music or what did happen in the "underground": long-haired young men playing loud electric guitars and drums. Places to play were some small clubs that change names and owners every three months. All that started only in 1968 after the cultural revolution, mainly a "Students' Revolution", in Berlin and Frankfurt, and a year before: in Berkeley, and then also in Poland, Paris, Prague, Zurich.
Before that uprising, we had "beat music": German groups sounded either like poor Beatles or like poor Stones. More often worse. The music you are thinking and talking about, Archie, started in circa 1969 (and only in the - political - western part of Germany) , after that cultural and political "awakening" of the young generation and the new hippie philosophy that came from California, connected with some music by groups like Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Jefferson Airplane...
Q: When did you first start working with Klaus, Manuel and the others back in those days?
This must have been in 1972. During one of my concert tours with international groups (I think it was Brit rockers Van der Graaf Generator, Audience and Jackson Heights, three groups in a concert package), I met Hartmut from "Ash Ra Tempel", in Frankfurt. He kindly invited me to visit him & A.R.T. when I'm back in Berlin. Later I did so and quickly became friend of Manuel, Rosi, and Hartmut, seeing them nearly every day at Rosi's apartment at Kurfuerstendamm (the Ku'damm's upper part in Halensee, not so many tourists. Forty years earlier Vladimir Nabokov lived around the corner). I helped A.R.T. too, with carrying speakers, amps, etc. to rehearsal rooms or to concert venues. Also I could fix a few things, amps, speakers, pedals, etc. From my professional tours with international artists I had learned: there is a solution for every problem, there MUST be. I was well known then for my "magic box", a simple electrician's toolbox that contained "everything" which was needed. At least it seemed so to the guys.
Klaus Schulze: I met him first in the office of the OHR label in Berlin's Wittelsbacher Strasse, when we (A.R.T.) asked for some cash to drive with a very old truck - owned by the drummer Dietmar Burmeister, who probably only got the drummer's job (he was a lousy drummer) because he owned this vehicle, and he was a funny person - to Switzerland for the recording of what became the SEVEN UP album.
KS had left A.R.T. a year ago, and now in this record label's office he discussed matters with an OHR secretary, obviously about the cover and a promotion photo for his first solo album. Later that year I also got to know him better and started to help him out, too. I even begun to live in his flat, together with him and his energetic girl friend. In 1973 I worked regularly for Agitation Free, A.R.T., TD, and KS (which means: on all their gigs or in the studio, in or off Berlin). Also I had a job at the annual Berlin Jazz Days, every first week in November. Later, this job was passed over to "Fame", bass player of Agitation Free, and he did it for the next 30 years.
Q: How did you get involved in the scene? There was very little business consciousness among musicians in those days (and maybe still today ); did you have some management, or personal business experience to help them?
With the exception of Edgar Froese who is one year my senior, I was a bit older than all the Berlin musicians I worked for. In 1970 I had finished a regular full time job that had lasted the previous ten long years, and therefore I knew what WORK means. In opposition to all (?) those musicians, my background is the "lower class"; I never visited a high school, let alone a university. Which is maybe also the reason that I don't have such naive ideas as some artists seem to have; I was a very realistic person ...and I am still :-)
I had my European concert tour experience with sometimes quite difficult people from USA, Brazil, England... (even more difficult if you know that my English was sparse then, ...and it also did not help much when the guitar hero from Brazil - 100 concerts in three years I did with Baden Powell - pretended not to speak English at all :-).
Of course I had no knowledge about management or music business. But I was a bit proud to be an accepted member of Agitation Free and A.R.T. except that my job in the groups was the technique and transport (and support, if needed). Only later - and just with KS - I started to look after business things too, and learned a thing or two. KS was happy that someone is doing this unwanted & boring non-musical job for him.
PART 2 on next page