Udo Jürgens (born Udo Jürgen Bockelmann, 30 September 1934, Klagenfurt, Carinthia, Austria) is an Austrian composer and singer of popular music whose career spans over fifty years. He has written more than 800 songs and sold over 100 million records. In 2007 he additionally obtained Swiss citizenship.
He is credited with broadening German-language pop music beyond the traditional postwar schlager in the 1960s by infusing it with a modern pop appeal; his exceptionally tuneful compositions and sophisticated arrangements attract fans of all ages, and even in his 70s he continues to fill the largest concert venues in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
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 (with English lyrics by his manager Don Black) as "Walk Away," which reached number four in the UK Singles Chart and number 23 in the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.Udo Jürgens, 1987
Jürgens' song "Sag ihr, ich lass sie grüßen" came fourth in 1965's contest, and in 1966 he won the competition with "Merci, Chérie", which became an English-language hit for Vince Hill, another cover by Monro, and one of Jürgens' most recognized compositions. Jürgens' version alone sold over one million copies, and he was awarded a gold disc by Deutsche Vogue in 1966.
In the following years, he wrote some of his most famous songs, like "Griechischer Wein", "Aber bitte mit Sahne", "Mit 66 Jahren", and – one of his biggest successes – "Buenos Días, Argentina", which he performed together with the German national football team in 1978.
In 1977, he invited The Supremes to appear as guests on his televised and recorded gala concert. The Supremes (Mary Wilson, Scherrie Payne, and Susaye Green), who were on a brief farewell tour of Europe at the time, performed two of their own current hits, "You Are The Heart of Me" and "You're My Driving Wheel", as well as a duet with Jürgens' "Walk Away" in English.
On 2 December 2007, the musical Ich war noch niemals in New York (I've never been to New York) opened in Hamburg's Operettenhaus. It weaves songs by Jürgens into a familial storyline, similar to the treatment of ABBA songs in Mamma Mia!, the musical it succeeded at the venue.Udo Jürgens, 2010
"Merci, Chérie", whose original German lyrics were written by Thomas Hörbiger, has been translated or adapted into several languages and covered by dozens of artists in both vocal and instrumental recordings. These versions include:
- "Merci Chérie" by Claude Carrère and André Salvet (French)
- "Merci" by Vito Pallavicini (Italian)
- "Merci Cherie" by Baker Cavendish (English)
- "Merci Cherie" by Fred Bekky (Dutch)
- "Merci Chérie" by Al Sandström (Swedish)
- "Merci Chérie" by Gina Trandafirescu (Romanian)
- "Merci Cheri" by Andrzej Ozga (Polish)
In addition to recording Cavendish's "Merci, Chérie" lyric, Matt Monro covered five more Jürgens compositions, all with English lyrics (unrelated to the German ones) written by his manager Don Black. Four of these became closely associated with the British singer (and were subsequently covered by Jürgens himself):
- "Warum nur warum?" became "Walk Away" (a 1964 Top 40 hit in both the U.S. and UK)
- "Du sollst die Welt für mich sein" became "Without You" (a 1965 UK Top 40 hit)
- "Was Ich Dir Sagen Will" became "The Music Played" (1968)
- "Illusionen" became "If I Never Sing Another Song" (1977), which was later performed by Shirley Bassey, Sammy Davis, Jr., and other entertainers.
A fifth Jürgens song, "In Dieser Welt," became "Lovin' You Again," and in 1969 Monro recorded both Spanish and English versions, the latter not released until August 2012. (Monro also recorded Spanish versions of "Walk Away" and "The Music Played"; all three Spanish lyrics were adapted for Monro from Black's versions by Leonardo Schultz, who also produced the Spanish recordings.)
In one of his last recording sessions, Bing Crosby covered an English version of Jürgens' "Griechischer Wein" called "Come Share The Wine," which also was written by Black. The song was released after Crosby's death in 1977 as the title track of a compilation album and was later recorded by Al Martino.
- His brother, Manfred Bockelmann (born 1943), is a painter.
- His son by first marriage, John Jürgens (born 1964), is a singer, actor and DJ.
- His daughter by his first marriage, Jenny Jürgens (born 1967), is an actress.
- His uncle, Werner Bockelmann (1907–1968), was mayor of Frankfurt am Main from 1957 to 1964.
- Portrait in Musik 1. Folge (1965)
- Siebzehn Jahr, blondes Haar (1965)
- Francoise und Udo (1966)
- Merci, Chérie (1966 - Eurovison)
- Portrait in Musik 2. Folge (1967)
- Was ich Dir sagen will (1967)
- Udo (1968)
- Mein Lied für Dich (1968)
- Udo Live (1969)
- Udo '70 (1969)
- Udo '71 (1970)
- Zeig mir den Platz an der Sonne (1971)
- Helden, Helden (Musical) (1972)
- Ich bin wieder da (1972)
- Udo heute (1974)
- Meine Lieder (1975)
- Udo '75 (Ein neuer Morgen) (1975)
- Meine Lieder 2 (1976)
- Meine Lieder '77 (1977)
- Buenos Días Argentina (Football World-Championship) (1978)
- Udo '80 (1979)
- Udo 1957–60 (1980)
- Nur ein Lächeln (1980)
- Leave a little love (1981)
- Willkommen in meinem Leben (1981)
- Udo Live - Lust am Leben (1981)
- Silberstreifen (1982)
- Traumtänzer (1983)
- Hautnah (1984)
- Treibjagd (1985)
- Deinetwegen (1986)
- Das Livekonzert '87 (1987)
- Das blaue Album (1988)
- Ohne Maske (1989)
- Live ohne Maske (1990)
- Sempre Roma (Football World-Championship) (1990)
- Das Traumschiff (Soundtrack) (1990)
- Open Air Symphony (1992)
- Geradeaus (1992)
- Cafe Größenwahn (1993)
- 140 Tage Cafe Größenwahn Tour 94/95 (1994)
- Zärtlicher Chaot (1995)
- Gestern-Heute-Morgen (1996)
- Gestern-Heute-Morgen Live '97 (1997)
- Ich werde da sein (1999)
- Mit 66 Jahren (Was wichtig ist) (2000)
- Mit 66 Jahren Live 2001 (2001)
- Es lebe das Laster (2002)
- Es Lebe das Laster - Udo Live (2004)
- Es werde Licht (2003)
- Jetzt oder nie (2005)
- Der Solo-Abend (2005)
- Jetzt Oder Nie - Live 2006 (2006)
- Einfach ich (2008)
- Einfach ich - live 2009 (2009)
- Best Of (2009)
- Der ganz normale Wahnsinn (2011)
- Der Mann mit dem Fagott (soundtrack) (2011)
- Der ganz normale Wahnsinn - LIVE (2012)
- Best Of Live - Die Tourneehöhepunkte - Vol. 1 (2013)
- Mitten im Leben (2014)