Falco and actress Ursela Monn (1986)
|Birth name||Johann (Hans) Hölzel|
19 February 1957|
|Died||6 February 1998
Between Villa Montellano and Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
|Associated acts||Thomas Lang|
Falco had several international hits, "Rock Me Amadeus", "Der Kommissar", "Vienna Calling", "Jeanny", "The Sound of Musik", "Coming Home (Jeanny Part II, One Year Later)" and posthumously, "Out of the Dark". "Rock Me Amadeus" reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts in 1985, making him the only artist whose principal language was German to score a vocal number-one hit in the United States (Bert Kaempfert reached No. 1 in January 1961 with the instrumental "Wonderland by Night"). According to his estate, he has sold 20 million albums and 15 million singles, which makes him the best-selling Austrian singer of all-time.
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 absolute 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.
He 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.
At a Concert of Drahdiwaberl in 1981, Falco was discovered by Austrian producer Markus Spiegel who offered him his first record contract. Falco's first hit was "Der Kommissar" from the 1982 album Einzelhaft. A German-language song about drug consumption that combines rap verses with a sung chorus, Falco's record was a number-one success in many countries but failed to break big in the US. The song, however, would prove to have a life of its own in two English-language versions. British rock band After the Fire recorded an English cover version, somewhat loosely based on Falco's lyrics and also called "Der Kommissar" (with "uh-oh", "schau, schau", "alles klar, Herr Kommissar" and the shout "cha" the only other lyrics held over from the original). This time, the song shot to number five in the United States (their only major hit there) in 1983, though it failed to crack the UK Top 40. That same year, American singer Laura Branigan recorded a version of the song with new English lyrics under the title "Deep in the Dark" on her album Branigan 2.
After a second album, Junge Römer (Young Romans) failed to provide a repeat to his debut single's success (outside of Austria and Germany, where the album topped the charts), Falco began to experiment with English lyrics in an effort to broaden his appeal, and chose a new production team: Bolland & Bolland. The result would be the most popular album and single of his career.
Falco recorded "Rock Me Amadeus" inspired in part by the Oscar-winning film Amadeus, and the song became a worldwide hit in 1986. This time, his record reached No. 1 in the US and UK, bringing him the success that had eluded him in that major market a few years earlier. The song remained in the top spot of the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks and his album, Falco 3 peaked at the number three position on the Billboard album charts reached number six in the Billboard Top R&B Singles Chart. Falco 3 peaked at number 18 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts. Ultimately, "Rock Me Amadeus" went to the No. 1 spot in over a dozen countries including Japan. Follow-up single "Vienna Calling" was another international pop hit, peaking at No. 18 of the Billboard Charts and No. 17 on the US Cash Box Charts in 1986. A double A-side 12" single featuring remixes of those two hits peaked at No. 4 on the US Dance/Disco charts.
"Jeanny", the third release from the album Falco 3, brought the performer back to the top of the charts across Europe. Highly controversial when it was released in Germany and the Netherlands, the story of "Jeanny" was told from the point of view of a possible rapist and murderer. Several DJs and radio stations refused to play the ballad, which was ignored in the US, though it became a huge hit in many European countries, and inspired a sequel on his next album.
In 1986, the album Emotional was released, produced by Rob and Ferdi Bolland (Bolland & Bolland). Songs on the album included "Coming Home (Jeanny Part II, One Year Later)", "The Kiss of Kathleen Turner", and "Kamikaze Capa" which was written as a tribute to the late photojournalist Robert Capa. "The Sound of Musik" was another international success, and a Top 20 US dance hit, though it failed to make the US pop charts. . In 1987 he went on the "Emotional" world tour ending in Japan. In the same year he sang a duet with Brigitte Nielsen, "Body Next to Body"; the single was a Top 10 hit in the Germanic countries. The album Wiener Blut (Viennese Blood) was released in 1988 but it did not get much publicity outside Germany and Austria.
After 1986 there were a number of European hits, but Falco was rarely heard in the US and the UK. His 1992 comeback attempt, the album Nachtflug (Night Flight) including the song "Titanic", was successful in Austria only.
Falco died of severe injuries received on 6 February 1998, 13 days before his 41st birthday, when his Mitsubishi Pajero collided with a bus on the road linking the towns of Villa Montellano and Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. It was determined that Falco was under the influence of alcohol and cocaine. At the time of Falco's death, he was planning a comeback. He was buried in the Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery) in Vienna, Austria.
In 1998, Rob and Ferdi Bolland (Dutch producers and co-writers of about half of Falco's albums) released the EP Tribute to Falco under the name The Bolland Project feat. Alida. The title track featured samples of Falco's music; the other tracks were "We Say Goodbye" and "So Lonely".
The film Falco – Verdammt, wir leben noch! was released in Austria on 7 February 2008, ten years and one day after Falco's death. This title is also the name of a posthumously-released album by Falco which translates to "Damn, we're still alive!" Written and directed by Thomas Roth, the movie features musician Manuel Rubey as adult Johann 'Falco' Hölzel. The end credits include the line "With love, Ferdi & Rob", his frequent collaborators the Bollands.
Although "Der Kommissar" saw nearly contemporaneous and fairly straightforward mainstream covers including the loose translation by After The Fire and the reinterpretation by Laura Branigan, both in 1982/1983, Falco's song "Rock Me Amadeus" has seen more frequent use. The track has been sampled by groups including the Bloodhound Gang, who also refer to Falco in their 1999 song "Mope", and by German rapper Fler in "NDW 2005" from Neue Deutsche Welle.
The restaurant Marchfelderhof in Vienna, Austria, maintains a permanent reserved table for Falco.
"Rock Me Amadeus" has been frequently used as a comedic source in a number of parody versions, films, television shows, and commercials. In 1985 a parody version of "Rock Me Amadeus" entitled "Rock Me Jerry Lewis" was credited to Bud Latour and fellow Phoenix, Arizona disc jockey, Mike Elliott. "Rock Me Jerry Lewis" climbed to Number 1 on The Dr. Demento's Funny Five chart and grew to a notoriety that prompted mentions and airplay on Casey Kasem's Top 40 Radio Show as well as a call from Jerry Lewis himself. Furthermore, Jerry Lewis would begin to use the song at his personal appearances and stage shows.
In 1986, "Weird Al" Yankovic included a portion of the song in the polka medley "Polka Party!", from the album of the same name. The song and clips from the video were portrayed in the animated series The Brothers Grunt. In The Simpsons episode "A Fish Called Selma" (1996), an offbeat variation is featured in a musical presentation of Planet of the Apes with the repeated tag of "Amadeus, Amadeus" transferred to "Dr. Zaius, Dr. Zaius". A similar usage appears in another satirical US cartoon series, Family Guy (season 4 episode 6, 2005). The Daily Show with Jon Stewart featured a parody, "Iraq Me Dave Petraeus", as a musical intro to a briefly recurring segment involving the US General's doctrine regarding the war in 2007/2008. The 1986 comedy The Whoopee Boys featured one of the main characters singing Rock Me Amadeus, in a scene involving a buffet dinner. In 2012, Boston Red Sox Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia used the song as his at-bat song.
A later episode of The Simpsons, "Behind the Laughter", features Willie Nelson saying, "Thank you, Taco, for that loving tribute to Falco," within another fictional tribute. Falco has been referenced in the US satirical cartoon series American Dad! and The Tick.
The 2009 film Adventureland features "Rock Me Amadeus" multiple times as part of an amusement park's background music, to the eventual disdain of its denizens. In 2014, German metal band Edguy included a cover version of "Rock Me Amadeus" in their album Space Police: Defenders of the Crown.
|1990||Data de Groove||11||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1998||Out of the Dark||1||3||4||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1999||Verdammt wir leben noch||3||35||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|2007||Einzelhaft (25th Anniversary Edition)||22||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|2009||The Spirit Never Dies||1||3||33||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|2010||Falco 3 (25th Anniversary Edition)||22||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1991||The Remix Hit Collection||-||51||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1997||Greatest Hits Vol. II||8||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1999||The Final Curtain – The Ultimate Best Of||1||2||6||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1999||Live Forever (live album)||34||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|2007||Hoch wie nie (Best Of)||1||2||5||-||-||-||18||-||-||-||6|
|2008||Falco Symphonic (Wiener Neustadt 1994)||1||15||34||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||34|
|2012||So80s Presents Falco||48||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1981||"That Scene" (English version of "Ganz Wien")||11|
|1982||"Maschine brennt" **||4||10||-||34||4||-||-|
|1982||"Auf der Flucht"||-||-||-|
|1982||"Zuviel Hitze" (Promo only)||-|
|1984||"Nur mit Dir"||-||-|
|1984||"Kann es Liebe sein?" (with Désirée Nosbusch)||-|
|1985||"Rock Me Amadeus"||1||1||2||1||2||3||2||1||6||1||1||30||1||1||1||1||1||15||1|
|1986||"The Sound of Musik"||4||4||11||61||-||-||42||4||13||15||6||29|
|1986||"Coming Home (Jeanny Part 2)"||4||1||3||-||4||11|
|1987||"Body Next to Body" (with Brigitte Nielsen)||6||22||-||-||35||37||9||-||-||1||44|
|1988||"Satellite to Satellite"||-||-||11||7|
|1988||"Do It Again"||-|
|1990||"Data de Groove"||12||-||-|
|1991||"Rock Me Amadeus" (Remix 1991)||-||-||19|
|1991||"Der Kommissar" (Remix 1991)||-||25|
|1992||"Nachtflug" (Netherlands only single)||-|
|1993||"Monarchy Now" (Austrian Promo only)||-|
|1995||"Mutter, der Mann mit dem Koks ist da" (as T>>MA)||3||11||30||-||3|
|1996||"Naked" (as Falco featuring T>>MB)||4||50||-|
|1998||"Out of the Dark"||2||2||3|
|1998||"Der Kommissar" (Jason Nevins and Club 69 Remixes)||39||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||49||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1999||"Verdammt wir leben noch"||26||-|
|2007||"Männer des Westens" (T. Börger Version 2007)||14||55|
|2007||"FALCOs 1. (Chance To Dance / Summer)"||-|
|2008||"Der Kommissar (Falco Symphonic Version)" (download only)||49|
|2008||"Die Königin von Eschnapur" (Austria only single)||-|
|2009||"The Spirit Never Dies (Jeanny Final)"||3||3||33|
|2010||"Kissing in the Kremlin" (download only)|
- **The Double A-side Single "On The Run/Maschine Brennt" peaked at No. 9 in US Hot Dance Club Play.
- – indicates the song did not chart.
- a blank box indicates that the song was not released.
- "Falco". The New York Times.
- "Nachtflug" at austriancharts.at
- , pressrelease containing the coroner's statement (in German), accessed Dec 12, 2014
- Falco, Findagrave.com
- OJT (7 February 2008). "Falco - Verdammt, wir leben noch! (2008)". IMDb. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
- "Austrian myHoliday". Austrian myHoliday. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
- "Marchfelderhof - bei uns ist jeder Gast Kaiser!". Marchfelderhof. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
- "The Daily Show". Comedy Central. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
- Dell, Jenny (22 May 2012). "Red Sox At-Bat Songs, Pitcher Entrance Music Range from Bon Jovi to Pitbull | Boston Red Sox". NESN.com. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
- Falco in the Austrian charts (A)
- Falco in the Swiss charts (A)
- "ChartArchive - Falco". archive.is. Archived from the original on 25 May 2012. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
- "Rock On The Net: Falco". Retrieved 7 January 2016.
- "Results - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved 7 January 2016.
- Falco-Alben in the Norwegian charts (A)
- Falco-Alben in the Swedish charts (A)
- "Hit Parade Italia - ALBUM 1982". Retrieved 7 January 2016.
- Falco in the Austrian charts(S)
- Falco-Singles in the Swiss charts (S)
- Falco in the Netherland "Nationale Hitparade Top 50" (S)
- Falco-Singles in the French charts I (S)
- Falco in the French charts II (S)
- Falco in the Italian Single-Charts(S) "Der Kommissar" No. 1 in Italy(S)
- Falco in the Spanish Single-Charts(S) "Rock me Amadeus" 1986 number one in Spain(S)
- Falco in the Norwegian charts (S)
- Falco-Singles in the Sweden Charts(S) Number 1 hits of Falco in Sweden(S)
- "Haku – Pomus". Retrieved 7 January 2016.
- Falco in the Billboard charts I (S)
- Falco in the Billboard charts II (S) (in German)
- Japanese Charts
- Falco's No. 1 in New Zealand (S)
- "South African Rock Lists Website - SA Charts 1969 - 1989 Songs (P-R)". Retrieved 7 January 2016.
- Bork, Horst (2009). Falco: die Wahrheit: wie es wirklich war-- sein Manager erzählt (in German). Berlin: Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf. ISBN 978-3-89602-921-8.
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