7 January 1965 (age 55)
Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Dieter Thomas Kuhn was born on January 7, 1965, in Tübingen, Germany. When the German music scene experienced a revival of the schlager genre - simplistic pop songs with overly kitschy and sentimental lyrics and imagery - in the mid-'90s, filtered somewhat through an ironic, tongue-in-cheek sense of embracing "uncool," dated music (similar to the easy listening and lounge revival, usually expressed through a "so bad it's good" attitude), Kuhn quickly rose to fame by covering old schlager hits, presented as a cheesy, in-your-face mixture of homage and parody - complete with over-the-top costumes and a chest hair toupee. He has released several successful albums, even though attempts at more serious musical endeavors have largely failed.
After a number of false starts – among them a trumpet combo called James Fast Orchestra – Kuhn put together a band called Kapelle (Ensemble), and - as a party joke - began to play entire shows consisting of schlager covers. When the concerts turned out to be hugely successful, Kuhn recorded his debut album, the independently released schlager covers collection Lieder Meines Lebens (Songs of My Life), in 1994 – and was quickly promoted to larger venues.
His first major-label album, Mein Leben für die Musik (My Life for Music), was released in 1995, and followed the first album's blueprint. The same year, Kuhn was the lead actor, alongside Esther Schweins, in Wolfgang Büld's comedy Der Trip – Die Nackte Gitarre 0,5 (The Trip – The Naked Guitar 0.5). The film flopped and was labeled "one of the worst German films of the year" by reviewers, which quickly put an end to Kuhn's acting ambitions. His popularity remained intact, however: a new album, Gold, followed in 1997, and Kuhn won the Deutscher Schallplattenpreis (German Record Award). His concerts remained sold out, and 1998 saw another new album, Wer Liebe Sucht (Those Who Seek Love), and an Echo award.
After his 1999 album Leidenschaft, Lust & Liebe (Passion, Lust and Love) and a live video – Meilen, Mädchen, Melodien (Miles, Girls, Melodies) – Kuhn tried to put an end to his schlager career. He gave a farewell concert in Stuttgart, Germany, and then left the scene to work on more serious material. In 2000, his hometown Tübingen organized an exhibition celebrating Kuhn and his music. He returned in 2001 with a new album, Kuhn Null/Eins, released under his last name, but his attempt at German songwriter pop met with critical and commercial disappointment. In 2002, Kuhn tried to work on a new version of Berthold Brecht's Dreigroschenoper, but Brecht's publishing company, Suhrkamp, stopped the project before it came to fruition because of it "not being true to the original work."
After the failure of his attempts to cross over into more serious music, Kuhn decided to return to the schlager fold in 2004. He announced a comeback concert in Stuttgart which sold out - all 12,000 tickets! - within 48 hours. Kuhn quickly added more concerts to his schedule and cemented his comeback with a new release, Lieblingsweihnachtslieder (Favorite Christmas Songs), a collection of Christmas songs, and a DVD reissue of his 1999 live video.
Kuhn's popularity as a schlager entertainer had remained unwavered, and he continued to tour and record. 2006 saw the release of Einmal um die Ganze Welt (Once Around the Whole World), and Kuhn sang on various occasions during the Soccer World Championship. Another album of new cover songs, Musik Ist Trumpf, appeared in 2007, entering the German charts at number 31, followed by more touring.
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