Klaus Schulze - The KS Story (in English) - Part 1  

The KLAUS SCHULZE story ...witnessed

by Klaus D. Mueller (1997)

(The following from 1997 is a revised, updated, completed and much longer version of my part in the German book about Klaus Schulze: "Eine musikalische Gratwanderung", from 1986. It is in English now, and hopefully it is without the many printing errors that the German book had.)

In the early years we were almost alone with our crazy music and ideas.

Besides Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream... - if not Klaus Schulze with his driving musical and personal energy, together with a persistent workaholic who cares: me :-) ... if we both wouldn't have struggled for this crazy music for more than twenty (meanwhile over 35) years, there would be no "Electronic Music", as we know it today. The hundreds of successors would have had no chance to hear TIMEWIND etc., and all of them would have another hobby today.

The year was 1974 when I began to work regularly for Klaus Schulze. From 1970 to 1974 I was hired as tour and stage manager for various music groups and artist, I toured all over Europe with the great Duke Ellington Orchestra (Duke's last tour), with the moody but wonderful guitar player from Brazil: Baden Powell, with British art rockers Van der Graaf Generator, with the Lionel Hampton Band, and many others, even with the comedian Marty Feldman who was also a true hippie as all my friends and I were ...during this era.

Accidentally my very first tour and my first job in the music business was for the "Paul Bley Synthesizer(!) Show featuring Annette Peacock" in 1970. I had no idea what effect these new (and heavy) instruments would have in the coming decade, for me, and for the whole music scene, worldwide. What I heard from the ARPs (or was it MOOG? I forgot which of the two were used) during these "shows" didn't impress me; neither Annette Peacock's singing-thru-the-synths, nor Paul's electronic keyboard efforts - Paul Bley's acoustic piano playing however was then and still is grand. His interpretation of Carla Bley's "Ida" is still today a kind of intelligent hit. I copied "Ida" from my old ESP-LP to many of my friends' cassettes.

Between these bigger jobs I was the helpful hand for various rock groups in my home town Berlin. In Germany, the word and profession "roadie" came much later, but this was exactly my job. I had a liking for Berlin avant-garde rock groups: Agitation Free, Os Mundi, Tangerine Dream, and Ash Ra Tempel. The work and the friendship with the members of the latter group changed my whole life.

Agitation Free did plenty of concerts in France, and I was their roadie - getting more money than every musician: 50, later 70 DM a day, which is close to nothing, anyway. It was a wonderful time. Money was not the main thing then, for all of us.

Not just ("Free" and other) Jazz and Rock'n'Roll were my private musical interest, but I was also a regular visitor at the serious concerts that the late Walter Bachauer organized at Berlin's "Akademie der Künste", and I heard in reality and not just from the radio or LP the music of people like Peter Michael Hamel, Morton Feldman, David Tudor, Steve Reich & Musicians, John Cage, and many similar others, including much music from Asia and Africa that only twenty years later got the label "Ethno" and "world music".

But where's Klaus Schulze?
Hartmut, the bass player (and head) of Ash Ra Tempel, took me in early 1972 to pick up the Revox tape-machine at a place in Berlin Steglitz, where their former drummer was living with his wife. We needed this first-class tape recorder for our preparations of the coming recordings with Timothy Leary, which later got the LP heading "Seven Up". But this was not the first time I met KS, 'cause he wasn't at home. His friendly wife Rita handed us the machine. Finally I saw KS in the offices of the OHR company. We (still: Ash Ra Tempel) begged there for some cash to make the trip to Switzerland to meet Timothy Leary and to do the "Seven Up" recording. Klaus also came into the office and he had his home-made cover for IRRLICHT, a 30 x 30 cm piece of cardboard with blue velvet on it (and with the wasted hope that OHR will use this textile for the actual covers). Also, he showed one of his first promotion photos, a dreadful pic of his head full of dirt, mud, and water: very "progressive" at this time. It was in summer '72.

Then our paths crossed again, when I did a removal for him (I made my living with this rather hard job. I also did removals for Ax Genrich and Steve Reich!), and I visited him a few times when he lived together with a resolute lady in Berlin Wilmersdorf (Meanwhile he was divorced from his first wife Rita). KS then moved into a small former shop in Berlin's Schwäbische Straße. From now on this was his studio. The huge shop windows we pasted over with sticky blue plastic: "d-c-fix", and the front door we made almost burglarproof. From now on KS lived there, in the adjoining two small rooms.

KS doesn't like - or is even able - to do such work as soldering, or similar non musical necessities. I like to try out these small mechanical things, although I never learned to do it in a proper or correct way (Ten years later the all-round genius Claus Cordes showed me what I've been doing wrong all these years. But even so, my 'wrong' doings did work all these years!). After a while I noticed that soldering isn't the only work KS won't do. I started to fix up what can be described as Klaus' office: put on files, answered on letters, wrote letters and filed the blueprints, did the whole postage for him. From under his bed I pulled various documents, contracts, clippings, put them into order, filed them, and this was the beginning of my (today:) huge KS archives. This nearly full-time job started in late '73 or in '74.

Klaus Schulze 1973

Before, there was an important event: KS' record company OHR took the offer of the French magazine ACTUEL to do concerts in Paris with other exotic new German groups. Therefore, on two days in February 1973 at the "Theatre de l'Ouest Parisien" the sold out auditorium saw and listened to Guru Guru and Kraftwerk on the first day, and to Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel (with KS) and Klaus Schulze as soloist, on the second day. This was the first appearance of Klaus Schulze as soloist. On the way to Paris we visited the "Farfisa" company near Cologne to talk them out of a new electric organ. When we reached Paris we had a serious breakdown of our little truck, but the friendly Tangerine Dream people gave us their own truck, we reloaded the instruments and could bring them in time to the concert hall. In the meantime some friendly Frenchmen took our Ford Transit for repair, and the next day we could use it again. The concert was a triumph, and marked the beginning of the specific French success of the three "cosmic" groups Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel, and KS. Kraftwerk got only known one year later and just because of their (deserved) American success with "Autobahn".

Still today KS and Manuel Göttsching like to tell the story about the brand-new original packed Farfisa organ, which was unpacked the first time on stage in Paris. Klaus didn't even know how to switch it on. During his performance as final "cosmic" attraction, Klaus managed the new tool very well. In addition he used an echo (the Revox tape machine), and a prerecorded tape with his own drumming "Totemfeuer". The 2000 Frenchmen were enraptured. The next day we all drove towards the Dierks studio, near Cologne, to one of the various "Cosmic Jokers" sessions. KS and I missed each other in Paris, so I went a few hours later with Manuel and Rosi in their tiny British Leyland "Mini", KS drove alone in the Ford Transit. While we were in the midst of Belgium, the road disappeared because of massive snowfall. We had to stop, waited for a heavy truck, and followed this pathfinder's rear lights. Klaus Schulze, who started some hours earlier, missed this awful snowfall, but in return he had a puncture: two flat tyres (...he told us)

One result from the time at the Dierks studio was another Ash Ra Tempel disc, "Join Inn", a spontaneous session work of the original Ash Ra Tempel, and the final work of Klaus with his old trio. Soon after, Hartmut the bass player stopped completely doing music, and Manuel and Klaus went different directions. ... The dissolution of OHR, the dispute between some musicians and Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser, the boss of OHR, should be mentioned here. Edgar Froese and KS were the only two who took the load and went to court against Kaiser, to free themselves. All other OHR musicians waited what will happen. Edgar and KS won all cases and were free to sign with other companies. The main reason for leaving OHR was the exaggerated promotion, which was in parts embarrassing, then (even the judge mentioned that in its verdict). Today this somewhat ludicrous promotion is daily routine in rock and other showbiz. In addition, Kaiser and especially his girlfriend (she had more and more the saying!) drifted away into fields beyond the normal. They believed what they were talking about, all that "cosmic" and drug nonsense... Still in 1993 Kaiser's lady sent around ludicrous papers as a fortune teller (!) under the pseudonym "Star's maiden". Absurd. She should move to where she belongs: California.

After he was freed from OHR, Schulze signed for the German market with METRONOME, who had distributed already the OHR records. The first new LP was BLACKDANCE in 1974, after that came PICTURE MUSIC, which was recorded before "Blackdance". Other bigger or smaller things happened then: Delta-Acustic, Michael Hoenig, 8-track, Virgin, and a removal. One after another:

1974: Scientists of the Technical University in Berlin invented the dummy head (microphone) technology: "Kunstkopf". The two brothers Schunke wanted to make use of it in a new studio, and asked Klaus Schulze if he is interested. Of course! Rooms were rented and a studio was built. Even Klaus who never put a nail into a wall, he suddenly carried stuff, sawed wood, glued and nailed... In the final Delta Acustic Studio in Berlin, KS took the chair of the sound engineer behind the recording and mixing desk. (I don't know if the writing of "acustic" was intentionally chosen or if they just didn't know how to write it correctly?) After four pop and one classic LP as well as one sampler, the whole business was finished. The Schunkes moved away from Berlin, founded another studio in the north of Germany, and "Dummy head stereo" was almost forgotten. The former Berlin studios were used up to the late eighties (and probably still) as rehearsal rooms for Berlin rock groups; the first Nina Hagen band had its base in these rooms until they hit it big. Aside: Already the first Tangerine Dream LP was recorded in these rooms, five years before the "delta acustic" venture. (Postscript in 1998: The whole buildings are now renovated and sold to wealthy yuppies as "Lofts").

Together with the Berlin keyboard player Michael Hoenig, who came from the just disbanded Berlin rock band "Agitation Free", KS had the plan to do a duo called "Timewind". The trouble was that Michael was a perfectionist in small things: Each cable, plug and socket must be labelled with small coloured tape, which took some boring hours. And, even worse, he was not willing to enter a stage without weeks of careful rehearsals. An evident violation of Klaus' amusing and lax rule: Rehearsal is an attack in the buddy's rear.

As "Timewind" duo Klaus and Michael had contacted Virgin Records in London, where Tangerine Dream had signed worldwide in the preceding year, in November 1973 (accidentally I was their roadie and present there, too). Two or three concerts by KS with Hoenig were given, then Michael vanished without telling us why, and without any goodbye (!) ... and was found as replacement for the vanished Peter Baumann in Tangerine Dream's first Australian tour (shortly after, Hoenig left also T.D.).

Therefore, Klaus signed in 1974 as soloist with Virgin, for all countries outside Germany/Austria/ Switzerland, and the first release was his BLACKDANCE LP. The following LP then got the name TIMEWIND. In the course of time it proved to be difficult to work with Virgin. Our naïve but instinctive impression then was that Tangerine Dream was Virgin's main act (behind Oldfield of course), and that they only signed Klaus Schulze to keep him off the market, to have control over an otherwise uncomfortable competitor (These things indeed do happen in the music business). Therefore, Klaus terminated the Virgin contract in early 1976. Fifteen years later, when KS was again signed to Virgin, their top manager confirmed openly that our earlier suspicion was justified (!) We had good noses then. During one of our flights to London in 1975, we spoke about the future of this Electronic Music, still not taken seriously, if not even unknown to most (Regular question to Klaus, by the press: What is a synthesizer?). Apart from KS there was TD, and essentially this was it. Period. No J.-M. Jarre in sight, no Kitaro, say nothing of all the hundreds of E.M. players that are known today. We were sure in '75 that the breakthrough must come, not least because of all the investments of the hardware manufacturers. What really happened soon, we had not even dreamed of. For instance, the English studio cracks at the time of "GO" in early '76 couldn't even produce a simple "echo/repeat", which is a necessary tool in E.M. That these British engineers and the British music industry would jump 100% onto the Kraftwerk and Electronic wagon a few years later, and that they brought out hundreds of synth pop groups, a few of them successfully ruling the international charts in the eighties... this we could not imagine in 1975.

KS was of superstar statue in France during 1975, '76, '77, '78, '79. The two biggest pop/rock magazines were full of articles, interviews and great reviews of and about KS, his albums and concerts, as well as long series to explain this new technology, made from long KS interviews. Klaus' records during these years reached the French charts, KS' French concerts were on the same level and in the same venues as all the other rock heroes' concerts.

All of a sudden there was a French guy, coming out of musical nowhere (from the advertising scene), doing the same as KS did very successfully, but with a bit more calculated pop approach, with hook-lines and other formula that a hit needs, and: in a flash, a home-brewed French superstar was born: Jean Michel Jarre. (A friend who teaches at a French school told me recently (in 1995) that he always has to explain to his kids that "Electronic Music" was not invented by Monsieur Jarre).

What else in 1974? Klaus ordered from London a very expensive 8-track tape recorder. Until this time he did everything on just two tracks. We paid a fortune for custom fee when the tool finally arrived in Berlin, because the custome officers and their books didn't know what it was. It never worked to Klaus' satisfaction, because it was one of these early prototypes of multitrack for the home studio. Only "Wahnfried 1883" of TIMEWIND was recorded with it. Later it was given as present to Harald Grosskopf.

KS and his lady moved from the little ex-shop studio into a larger apartment, and I joined them. The shop/studio was given to Edgar Froese, who still uses it in 1995 as office and studio, and the blue "d-c-fix" is still glued against the front windows (and still in June 2004!).

In autumn 1974 I took a 30 days job at the first Berlin "Meta Musik Festival", together with Michael Hoenig. We were responsible for the technique, the sound, mixer, stage, and all other what came to hand. Again I had the chance to hear and to work for people like Terry Riley, Steve Reich & Musicians, Phil Glass Ensemble, Nico/Eno/John Cale, Tangerine Dream, Tibetan, Arabic, African, Indian, Indonesian musicians, and many more... This festival was the brainchild of that wonderful person Walter Bachauer. He repeated it two years later, with similar exotic and avantgarde music, and again I got this temporary one month job, because I loved this exciting new music at this time, and I needed the cash (Until the end of 1978 I got no payment from Klaus for my work for him. This was not because of some evil motive of KS, but because I had not seen my doings as "work" - it was fun. When I needed something, I got it. We were a team, and friends).

During one of Klaus Schulze's usual visits at the Metronome record company in Hamburg, he was introduced to the Japanese group FAR EAST FAMILY BAND and to their gentle manager. Klaus accepted the offer to produce the group for Polygram (Metronome's parent company). In August 1975 Klaus flew to Tokyo to do the first international LP with the F.E.F.B. - a remix of their just finished and released second LP. Japan! Centre of technology! ...but what Klaus found in the Japanese studio was irritating: The studio contained everything one can dream of, but nobody of the natives was able to work rational, wise, not to mention artistically with it. What happened then was like in a Beckett play: All movements and sayings of Klaus were noticed and written down by some agile Japanese technicians. For instance, the simple fact that the Dolbys have to be adjusted before use(!), and then switched on(!), or, that electric keyboards should be connected directly to the mixer...

What later became the famous "Kitaro", was then just one of the two friendly keyboard players in this space rock band. Klaus had to record his parts anew because his playing was actually recorded with microphones in front of his Marshall speakers, which - of course - sounded awful. Klaus showed this keyboard player a few more tricks...

When Klaus came back from that wonderful work in Tokyo at the end of August 1975, his/our apartment was already emptied, except for a few instruments that we needed for an earlier arranged photo session. We moved to the countryside of Germany. One reason was private: KS' parents were now pensioners and had moved to the countryside. KS found a house close to his parents. And nothing and no one kept me in Berlin.

Two days before Xmas '75, "The Big Moog" was bought by Klaus from a Munich musician.

The Big Moog

In very positive remembrance are the many tours of Klaus through France, and through Belgium and the Netherlands. We did them annually since 1975, the first three years in the very pleasant months of April/May. During these first years we both drove alone in our Ford Transit. The instruments and the small but loud Farfisa P.A. system were set up and connected by me, and during the course of time I learned a lot about the necessary technique, and about the synthesizers. During an earlier job with Tangerine Dream, I was impressed by the fact that they used only one blue electric lamp on stage, so I took the prime idea and built for KS our own little "light show" made of just 4 x 100 watt bulbs in dark blue. Later I added another 4 in red, all connected to two simple dimmers you may have at home for your reading lamp ...and that was it. I hate kitsch as much as gigantism (often it's the same); it is just embarrassing and expensive. KS liked it to have one of those lamps beaming directly into his eyes during some emotional parts of his playing.

MOONDAWN did not come out on Virgin anymore, because KS had terminated the contract. In view of our great French concerts we got to know a person who wanted to start a new French label with Klaus' next album MOONDAWN. We said okay, and soon after, MOONDAWN became a hit in France. KS is still waiting for his contractual percentages for some hundred thousand sold copies! Regardless what some critical journalists say, it's not the "evil" Big Brother but (as well) the small independents who cheat the artists. When KS tried to bring the case before the (French) court, we found out that our French manager was meanwhile (without telling us!) working for the other side - for that cheating label "Isadora". From this moment on we stopped all contact to that disloyal man. Later, he was for some years Ashra's manager, and after ten years of disappearance he founded in the early nineties the SPALAX label for re-releases.

Because of the MOONDAWN success some things did happen. For the preceding LP TIMEWIND Klaus was honoured with the "Grand Prix International du Disque", and the concert halls became larger. For the French tour in April '76 we got from the promoter a car full of body guards, who looked frightening, filled their car up to the limit, were very amiable, but unnecessary: We never had use for them (because of their sheer presence?). But we had some additional fun (and for that we did the concert tours).

The English label ISLAND showed some interest in Klaus Schulze, but also an English Manager.

First came the GO project.

During the production of another LP with the FAR EAST FAMILY BAND, this time in the English "Manor" studios, Klaus became friend with a Japanese woman, a very good photographer. She introduced him to Stomu Yamash'ta. This Far East wunderkind had his GO project in mind and was searching for musicians from all over the world, to join his ideas. A synthesizer player doesn't exist in England. What is more, Stomu and Klaus spoke the same language, musically and humanely. The same was true of Michael Shrieve, the drummer for this project. The bass player Rosko Gee was an amiable human being. The shy Steve Winwood was mostly locked away by his American wife, and the fast Al DiMeola we only saw once during his swift rattle off his part. His rapidity was really sensational, but artistically meaningless. To show him this, one evening Klaus just speeded up his sequencer more and more, and DiMeola had to give up at a certain point, wondering how KS - who sat with his equipment in another room - could play so fast. Klaus showed him, that it's just a machine, and that it's not the trained speed that makes good music. Did he understand? I suppose, because he felt a little bit displeased.

All people involved in that project had no experience with synths or synth players, and the studio people were programmed only to rock and pop. Different music such as Schulze's they could not handle. Of course they liked the ostensible show when Klaus' EMS did the typical and cheap SciFi effects. I remember nights in the London hotel when Klaus was actually crying because of the ignorance of these innocent engineers. The finished product, the first GO LP, shows all this, if the German fool is being heard at all. However, the prime idea was not alone one of artistic reasons, but plain business: Out of every important country one "star" was used; for Germany this was the synth "star" Klaus Schulze.

There was much talking about a world tour with GO. What came out were two great concerts. First with an additional orchestra in London's Royal Albert Hall in May 1976, the second one two weeks later in Paris. I was eyewitness on stage in Paris. It was like home-coming for Klaus. He received a frantic greeting from the thousands of French. Even before the concert a tape was played with Schulze music (!) - it seems as if the responsible British roadies liked him, too. I was very proud of Klaus. Some American gigs of GO at later dates were made by partially different musicians.

For the London concert of GO Klaus took Harald Grosskopf with him, as roadie and mental support. Harald was from 1971 till '75 the drummer of the German rock group "Wallenstein" and Klaus knew him from the "cosmic" sessions in the Dierks studios. In summer 1975, Harald was suddenly present at our place. He wanted to learn a bit about electronic instruments and music, he was keen to know everything about it. He had the futuristic idea to do his fine drumming with electronic devices - which only a few years later became reality, even: normality. Harald stayed with us for about half a year and during this time as well as on later dates he played the drumkit to some of Schulze's recordings. Harald was and still is an open and honest partner and a great human being. His speciality was his loud and endless laughing, and his ability to get asleep instantly, but being on the spot when needed again. Later he joined Manuel's ASHRA from time to time, also he did some electronic percussive solo recordings, and played percussion with various other German and Dutch electronic and other musicians.

The famous English ISLAND label: Klaus was enthusiastic about it. Some of his teenage heroes were on it. Now, in late 1976, ISLAND was interested to have Klaus as solo star. Most unfortunately, since the Beatles, England is not only the centre of modern pop music, but as well the creator of the longest and most complicated record contracts one can imagine. For non Englishmen and non lawyers they are a complete mystery. But there was an English manager ready to help. A friendly man, as so often. We engaged him. He invited us all the time for dinner, he picked us up from the airport, drove us around, paid our cigarettes, did everything for us outside Germany. After a while I realized that he not only got his 20% of all of Klaus' income, but that in addition we paid all these meals, cigarettes, his gasoline and his travels, and all the expenses this manager had, regardless if he travelled to the "Midem" festival for us or for any other of his artists. We couldn't even control if he not charged the same expenses each and every of his few artists...

To make this an end, Klaus paid a small fortune to get rid of him. This was our first experience with the everyday occurrence in international showbiz. We didn't like it.

Together with this manager we also wanted to terminate the record contract with ISLAND, because our spokesman had left the company. Two LPs were out on that label. The first one was MIRAGE. It was never said, but MIRAGE wasn't exactly what ISLAND expected: a second "Moondawn". MIRAGE was and is a difficult piece of music, not made to sell fast in huge quantities. We value Island's service highly. They released it worldwide with considerable energy and expense. Like MOONDAWN it reached number 10 in the French LP charts. The genuine bestseller with typical music à la Schulze was made during the same time by an unknown but clever Frenchman, the son of the Hollywood kitsch composer Maurice Jarre. This brought "our" music to the general public's attention, on a vast level. Even today there are many who believe that J.-M. Jarre "invented" the Electronic Music.

The seriousness and perplexity of MIRAGE has a reason. Klaus had an older brother, who was a kind of stimulation if not idol for Klaus in his early years. Because of him Klaus learned to play drums. This brother, Hans-Dieter, died of cancer in the winter when MIRAGE was recorded. This music is dedicated to his brother. MIRAGE is still an outstanding and timeless disc.

I did not join the "Mirage" tournee in April and May 1977. At this time I had a break from Klaus Schulze for about half a year. I was doing the French tour with Manuel Göttsching in November 1976, I worked again for the wonderful 30 days event, the second Berlin "Meta Musik Festival", where also KS was performing (listen to "Sense" on his ...LIVE... album), and I promoted many rock and pop concerts in Berlin with international artists such as Jerry Lee Lewis, the Supremes, Bob Marley... During one of those concerts I met again Rosko Gee from the GO days. He was now a member of the German group "Can". (Postscript in 1997/'98: Rosko is now member of a TV show band in the German "Die Harald Schmidt Show". In 2009 he still was).

When I returned to Klaus in early summer '77, I found an English truck in the garden of Klaus' house. It was bought before especially for the "Mirage" tour, 'cause this was cheaper than to rent one. Now, it wasn't needed anymore, but: nobody could move it - the English roadie had placed it in the garden, had switched on the automatic alarm-horn(!), left direction England and took the keys with him. If someone would touch now the automobile's door or any other dangerous part, the alarm horn would start to make its horrible noise. KS didn't know where the turn-off switch is. I forgot the end of that story, but I suppose that we waited until the truck's battery was empty and dead and then we sold the vehicle.

Film makers realized very soon that music à la KS or T.D. is great for movies. Already in 1976 Klaus did plenty of music for some avantgarde films, without ever asking to get paid! At the end of '76 a film producer from Dusseldorf contacted Klaus and he made the music to one of the better porno movies, BODY LOVE. The second film of the same producer with a soundtrack by KS was the thriller BARRACUDA. To get the right inspiration, the film producer invited Klaus to flight with him to Florida. No problem for Klaus! The producer realized that the Americans tried to cheat him, but he could avoid the worst; Klaus enjoyed the good life in sunny Fort Lauderdale... The salary for Klaus' work was: He could choose one of those pompous American cars from Germany's most exclusive car dealer in Dusseldorf.

[Part 2]