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Herbert Grönemeyer

Music

Herbert Grönemeyer, Germany’s most successful contemporary pop artist, has worked with The American director Anton Corbijn for 22 years on photography, record sleeves, videos, and stage design; he was also an actor in Mr. Corbijn’s film Control, playing the role of the doctor prescribing medicine to Ian Curtis. He has also worked with The American cinematographer Martin Ruhe on several music videos.

Mr. Grönemeyer was born in the university town of Göttingen, but grew up in Bochum. In the late 1970s he had dual careers, as musical director and stage actor. He worked under the famous German stage directors Peter Zadek and Claus Peymann in Hamburg, Stuttgart, and Cologne. After a short engagement in the jazz/rock band Ocean, he released his first solo album, “Grönemeyer,” in 1979 and his second, “Zwo” (“Two”), in 1981. Around this time, he starred as Lieutenant Werner in Wolfgang Petersen’s Das Boot, long hailed as one of the most grippingly authentic of all war movies. He also starred in Peter Schamoni’s Frühlingssinfonie (Spring Symphony), in which he portrayed composer Robert Schumann. Concentrating on music in the years since, his subsequent albums included “Total Egal” (“Absolutely Careless”); “Gemischte Gefühle” (“Mixed Emotions”); and “Bochum,” which went quintuple-platinum, yielding such hit songs as “Männer” (“Men”) and “Flugzeuge im Bauch” (“Airplanes in my Head”). His subsequent albums included “Sprünge” (“Jumps”); “Ö;” “What’s All This,” a translated compilation; and “Luxus,” his commentary on the reunification of Germany. In 1992, Mr. Grönemeyer was honored with his country’s Echo Award for Best National Artist. The following year, he recorded the progressive “Chaos” and the accompanying “Cosmic Chaos,” a mini-album with techno-versions of his songs. In 1994, he received a second Echo for Best National Artist; and he was the first non-English-language artist invited by MTV to play and record an Unplugged concert. Two live albums followed: “Unplugged Herbert,” the MTV concert, and “Grönemeyer Live,” recorded on tour.

In 1998, Mr. Grönemeyer moved from Berlin to London, where he still lives. His albums since then have all been prolific collaborations with British producer Alex Silva, including “Bleibt alles anders” (“All Remains Different”) and “Mensch,” his 2002 masterpiece. The latter became the fastest-selling album in German recording history, going platinum 10 times over in Germany alone, and was honored with four Echo awards. “Mensch” led to his most successful tour ever, documented on “Mensch Live,” which became Germany's all-time top-selling music DVD. Another artistic coup for Mr. Grönemeyer was his archival concept, “Pop 2000 - 50 Years of German Pop Music and Youth Culture,” an 8-CD box set that he curated. In 2003, he received the World Music Award and made a return to the theater –he composed the music for Robert Wilson's production of Georg Büchner’s “Leonce und Lena,” successfully staged in Berlin. The score was released as an album in 2005. Mr. Grönemeyer’s interest in new music has led him to found his own label Grönland, re-releasing albums from the German electronic pioneers Neu! while also breaking out inventive new artists such as Kira, Half Cousin, Petra Jean Phillipson, and Merz. His recent albums include “12,” which won an Echo for Best Album of the Year, and the double-album retrospective “Was muss muss.” His next album will be released in the spring of 2011, with a tour to follow in the summer.

An activist for social justice, Mr. Grönemeyer is a board member of Deine Stimme gegen Armut (Your Voice Against Poverty).