The Lords (German band)
|Genres||Skiffle, Beat, Glam rock|
|Past members||Knud Kuntze
Ulli Günther † 1999
Peter "Max" Donath
The Lords were the most long-living and successful beat band of West Germany. The band's main headquarters was Düsseldorf/North Rhine-Westphalia. No other German band was so active during more than 40 years.
In 1964 their bassist Knud Kuntze ("Lord Knud") (*18 March 1944) had to leave the band due to an accident. He then started a career as a prominent German radio DJ. In 1965, the classic line-up of The Lords consisted of Ulli Günther (vocals), Bernd Zamulo (bass), Leo Lietz (guitar), Rainer Petry (guitar) and Max Donath (drums). This classic line-up existed until 1971, which marks the end of the classic and most successful period of the band.
1959-1971: classic period
In 1959, The Lords started out as a skiffle band in Berlin using partly custom-made instruments. In 1964 when Beatlemania and the British Invasion swept across the world, they turned into "Germany's First Beat Music Act" and developed their classic style for which they are still known in Germany today. In the period from 1965 until 1969 they had 11 hits in West German pop charts. Their first hit single from 1964 was Shakin' All Over (originally recorded by Johnny Kidd & The Pirates in 1960). Their other hits included the blues traditional Poor Boy in 1965, Poison Ivy in 1965 (originally by The Coasters, 1959), the Baptist traditional Gloryland in 1967, and Rockin' pneumonia in 1967 (probably originally by Larry Williams). They also appeared as supporting act of The Kinks and The Who on German tours of the two English bands, and performed on the contemporary TV music program Beat-Club several times. These Beat-Club performances are still repeated on German TV well into the 2000s, being largely responsible for today's classic image of The Lords back then. Their 1960s cover versions of Shakin' all over, Poison Ivy, and Gloryland still get much more airtime on German radio today compared to the original, earlier, or later recordings of these songs by English and American performers whose versions are therefore comparably unknown in Germany.
1971: Break-up and best ofs
In 1971 the original formation of The Lords disbanded. The original recordings of their singles, later often re-recorded by the band, were issued on CD as the double CD box The Original Singles-Collection/The A & B-Sides in 1999, beside which the CD version of their 1972 best-of album The LORDS 1964-1971 remains a decent seller, while Shakin' all over '70 (1970) and The Lords - The Very Best (1992) like most of their albums after 1971 are more recent, technologically updated re-recordings of their classic songs instead.
From 1976 onwards, The Lords re-formed to play together until far into the 1990s with different line-ups, mostly as a nostalgia live band playing their old hits on 60s festivals and TV shows, every few years re-recording technologically updated versions of their songs. Especially "Lord Leo" Lietz has become sort of a bandleader since they have become mostly a 1960s nostalgia act, representing them and still giving the most interviews of all current band members.
Singer of The Lords, Lord Ulli died in a Potsdam hospital on 13 October 1999, after having a breakdown while performing on stage on 9 October 1999 during a concert of their 40 years anniversary tour.
Since 2000 The Lords have re-united once again, in 2002 and 2009 they released two new albums.
Style and reputation
Rather than a serious music band, The Lords were more of a slapstick and comedy troupe especially on stage, probably akin to bands like The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band in England at the time (and indeed Johnny Kidd & The Pirates whose Shakin' all over The Lords covered and which became their first hit single), overdoing the contemporary moptop hairstyle by making it look like a stereotypical Medieval haircut as portrayed in the modern comic Prince Valiant, taking the formal suit fashion introduced by The Beatles and turning them into waiters' clothing, and dancing like a girl group such as the 1920s Tiller Girls on stage. However, when looking at many rock and pop bands from the era, the level of musical skill is at least as good as most, and better than some. When viewing performances from the mid 60s, they appear to have been playing live on TV appearances in an era when it was almost a given that acts would play to a recording.
This rather lighthearted attitude led to a rivalry with Hamburg-based band The Rattles and especially their bandleader and producer Achim Reichel who took the contemporary British Invasion-influenced music played by both bands more seriously, obviously holding The Lords not in very high regard for their silly antics.
Beside their clownesqueries looked down upon by more ambitious proto-Krautrock artists such as Reichel, there was a notorious rumor that singer of The Lords, Ulli Günther ("Lord Ulli") spoke not a single word of English even though it was the language he sang in, and that therefore his German accent was much thicker than was usual in the German-produced but English-sung music scene at the time.
Towards the end of the 1960s, the band was increasingly influenced by psychedelia and brought more social commentary, serious or satirical, into their lyrics, effectually turning from a British Invasion-influenced pop band into a progressive Krautrock group. However, nothing of this development remained after the breakup of their classic line-up in 1971, nor did the 1976 re-formation go back to suits and slapstick. Instead, since their re-formation they foster more of a rough rocker and teddy boy image both in their instrumentation, arrangements, and their clothing, now appearing in jeans clothing and sunglasses, comparable to the new style 1970s glam rock band Slade took on during the 1980s, even though today The Lords often perform to playbacks of their old singles when on TV while dressed up in their new style.
- 1965 In Black and White - In Beat and Sweet
- 1966 The Lords II - Shakin' All Over
- 1967 Some Folks by the Lords
- 1968 Good side of June
- 1968 Deutschlands Beatband Nr. 1 Die Volksplatte
- 1969 Ulleogamaxbe
- 1970 Shakin' all over '70
- 1971 Inside out
- 1972 The Lords 1964-1971
- 1979 Birthday Album - 15 years
- 1984 20 Jahre Lords
- 1988 The Lords '88
- 1989 Stormy
- 1992 The Lords - The Very Best
- 1999 The Original Singles-Collection/The A & B-Sides
- 1999 Live 1999
- 2002 Spitfire Lace
- 2009 Lords 50