Early life and family
Kraus is the son of Austrian-born director and comedian Fred Krausnecker, and spent his youth alternating in Munich, Vienna and Salzburg where his father owned a small theatre. During his school years he took singing and acting lessons as well as step dancing classes. His first acting role was the part of Johnny in The Flying Classroom (1954) after the novel by Erich Kästner.
In 1969 Kraus married the photo model Ingrid. Kraus adopted Ingrid's daughter Gaby. A few years later their son Mike was born. Gaby died in her late thirties from breast cancer.
When the German music industry discovered that rock 'n' roll was a big seller even with German lyrics, they marketed Kraus as an Elvis Presley copy. He soon became, like his colleague Ted Herold, one of Germany's most popular singers and teen idols, the lanky figure and nonchalant attitude of the young man was a big hit with teens. In the first four years after his debut he recorded 36 hits and sold more than twelve million records.
Kraus's first disc in 1956 was a German version of Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti". In mid-1957 his first hit "Susi Rock“ followed and made it to number 8 in the charts. From then until 1964 Kraus was regularly in the German charts. 1958 he recorded "Wenn Teenager träumen" (A Teenager's Romance), "Hula Baby" and "Sugar Baby", used in the 1985 Percy Adlon film Zuckerbaby. This was followed in 1959 by his version of Fabian's "Tiger". At first Kraus was heavily influenced by Presley, but soon he managed to find his own style. As the "nice boy from next door" he sang with his female counterpart, teen idol Conny Froboess and appeared with her in the 1958 movie "Wenn die Conny mit dem Peter" and (1960) "Conny und Peter machen Musik". They became the most popular film stars of German teenagers in the late fifties. In 1959 Kraus appeared with his father Fred Kraus, playing the role of his father, in "Melodie und Rhythmus".
Kraus also published some songs with Jörg Maria Berg; under the pseudonym The James Brothers; the two played German cover versions "Wenn" (When) in 1958, "Cowboy Billy" ("Don't Take Your Guns to Town") in 1959, "Rote Rosen" (Pretty Blue Eyes) in 1960, "Die jungen Jahre" (Endless Sleep) and "Hätt' ich einen Hammer" (If I Had a Hammer) in 1964, to name a few. He also sang duets with Connie Francis, Lill Babs, Danny Mann, Alice and Ellen Kessler, Gus Backus and Gina Dobra.
- The Flying Classroom (1954), as Johnny Trotz
- Precocious Youth (1957), as Günther
- Immer die Radfahrer (1958), as Robby Eilers
- The Crammer (1958), as Achim Bork
- Wenn die Conny mit dem Peter (1958), as Peter
- Conny and Peter Make Music (1960), as Peter
- What Is Father Doing in Italy? (1961), as Klaus Stumpf
- Im schwarzen Rößl (1961), as Gustl Zwanzger
- Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color: The Waltz King (1963, TV), as Josef Strauss
- If You Go Swimming in Tenerife (1964), as Tom
- Paganini (1973, TV film), as Pimpinelli
- Tausend Augen (1984), as Schirmer
- Der Sommer des Samurai (1986), as Schirmer
- Der Madonna-Mann (1987), as Schirmer
- Peter Kraus. Oesterreichisches Musiklexikon
- For his biography see: Frank Laufenberg / Ingrid Hake: Rock- und Pop-Lexikon. Vol. 1: ABBA - Kay Kyser. Düsseldorf / Wien: ECON Verlag, 1994, p. 850f
- Julia Edenhofer: Das große Oldie Lexikon. Mit Hitparaden-Übersicht England, USA, Deutschland. Bergisch-Gladbach: Bastei-Lübbe Verlag, 1991, p. 354f
- Günter Ehnert (ed.): Hit Balance. Deutsche Chart-Singles 1956-1980 Hamburg: Taurus Press, 1990, p. 188f
- Günter Ehnert (ed.): Hit Balance. Deutsche Chart-Singles 1956-1980 Hamburg: Taurus Press, 1990, p. 106