Devils, Skates and the Five-Fold Shade
It all started with a photograph of the Beatles. The first time I saw them I got immediately curious. I wanted to know more about these guys. I had to hear their music!
Though my 5 years older sister was an Elvis fan, she had some of their singles. First I listened to `Love Me Do`. That was great. But when `She Loves You` came out of that portable record player, I got knocked off my feet! I just had made a quantum jump!
That afternoon had changed my life! 1964, at the age of 13, I had my first guitar lessons learning the riff of Roy Orbison`s `Pretty Woman` and famous chords like E-
F-,G-, A-,C- and D-major. Just a few months later my friend Thomas Peter, also a 13 year old guitar player, and I joined a duo with drums and guitar called `The Gentlemen.` We needed a bass player, three guitarists were one too many. So I took over that part. After a while the name of the band sounded too gentle for us. Although we had our rehearsal room under a church, or because of that, who knows, we changed our name to `The Devils`.
Half a year later, now all of us 14 years old, we had to change the line up. We stayed a four piece band, but now with two years older frontman, singer Thomas Beissner. Thomas on guitar, Axel Kaufmann on drums, me on bass and vocals. Sonny, the rhythm guitarist, was out. With our new name `The Skates` we played our first gig as support for a band with almost grown-ups in it!
In summer `67 a third Thomas, Tommy Reichle, a guitar player and great background singer, joined the group. Time for a new name: `The Five-Fold Shade`. The sound became more psychedelic, so did the drugs. In the early days we sometimes popped prescription-free uppers, later we got turned on to hash and grass which was much healthier than these pharma pills.
In summer `69 Tommy Reichle quit and was replaced by organ player Bernhard. We played together till the end of 1969. The band was pretty well known in parts of southern Germany, especially in and around Stuttgart. At that time we all still went to school.
Almost every morning, waiting for the street-car no.9, Thommy Balluff passed by in his Renault 4. We did not know each other, but he knew I was playing bass with `The Five-Fold Shade` and I knew that he was the organ player of `The Misfits`, a soul band we liked a lot. One day he rang me up to ask whether I could take over the bass-part in their band. Their bass player was in hospital and it looked like he`d not come out of there in the near future. I was happy to get that call from Thommy,`cause `The Five-Fold Shade` were about to break up anyway.
Since that time, about 40 years now, Thommy and me are playing together from `exmagma` to the `Andy Goldner Band`,`Die Fuckin`Gute Buergerband` and various other projects like music for film and productions with different artists. With `exmagma` we became professional musicians.
Fred Braceful who was playing with Wolfgang Dauner at the time we first met, was for us `the king on drums`. Our drummer Hannes Maier had to quit the band due to health problems. That`s why Thommy and I went on tour for several months with the electric-jazz group `Seelow` of sax-, flute player Dieter Seelow. Whenever Fred had the time he joined the band. Neusi, our manager, persuaded Fred who was about ten years older than us and had already played with stars like Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Dollar Brand and Larry Coryell to spend some time with us in our place.`Exmagma` were living with lots of friends in a farmhouse in southern Germany. When Fred came for a visit we already had prepared a room for him where he could move in and live with us. That was pretty bold, but it worked out! Now `exmagma` was complete.
We performed up north, down south in the west and east of Germany (not behind the iron curtain though), in Holland, Belgium, England and France.
In 1973 the first album of `exmagma` was released on Neusi Records. On Triad Radio Station in Chicago it charted at no.1 and stayed there for a couple of weeks. The LP sold all over the world, but in relatively small quantities, that`s why you have to pay more than $200 for an original copy nowadays.
Very important for the band was that we`ve been living together with sometimes more than 20 other freaks from the UK, USA, Canada, Korea, France, Italy, even a Russian dude stayed for quite a while. Wendy, one of the roadies and a fantastic painter, escaped from the GDR in a spectacular coup. His godfather was Walter Ulbricht.
We experimented with LSD, mushrooms and other psychedelic drugs. I still believe it was very good experience for us to do so. I don`t understand people who regret their drug use. They must have done something completely wrong or had misunderstood a lot.
For now I don`t use drugs. The 4th of July 2009 (also my Independence Day) I even quit smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, but I still like to be among smokers and drinkers. I´m a vegetarian for more than 20 years now and I would not like to miss any of my experience with all these great mindexpanders!
Autumn of `74 we moved to France. We had extraordinary friends like Gilles Yepremian, Gilbert Artman, Bernard Pichon, Patrice Levallois over there, and it was time for the band to leave Germany and try something new. Neusi found a house in the country side, near to the Atlantic ocean in the Normandy, and an apartment in Paris, near Place de la Republique. So we had a farmhouse to rehearse and a flat to be close to the big city life.
We lived there for about two years. During that time most of our gigs were in France. We still played concerts in Germany, Holland , Belgium and Luxembourg, but most of the time we crossed the border of France it was for the recordings at Conny`s Studio near Cologne.
The album `Goldball` was released in `74 on Disjuncta, `exmagma 3` did not see the light till 2006. Barclay Records were about to release the double album in `75, but only if they were permitted to remix the recordings. We were convinced of the production we did with Conny Plank, so we refused their offer.
A few months later we broke up. Some of us stayed in France, others went back to Germany. I was most of the time in France and Germany, sometimes in England.
The assistant manager of the French band Magma asked me and Thommy to join Christian Vander to form a new Magma as a trio, but I was into something else.
My family owned a house in the country side near Stuttgart, where I stayed during winter `76 to write new songs and record some demos with my Teac 4-track. With the mastertapes I went to the Midem in Cannes in January`77.
I had appointments with different record companies, but not enough money to purchase a regular admittance to the Congress building Palais du Festival. Therefore I had to use the backdoor. That worked out great for two, three days, but then the security people refused to let me pass. But I could make my point by showing them my schedule with all the rendez-vous listed. So I had two men in uniform one left, one right walking me to my appointments. I guess I didn't look like an arrested crook, more like an upcoming star with two fancy bodyguards. That drew attention !
At the Barclay records-stand I wanted to meet Fabrice Cuitat or Mr. Fernandez, the A&R people, which I already knew from Paris. A grey-haired gentleman walked towards me, reached out and shook my hand. Lots of photographers took pictures.``Very nice to see you , I`m Eddie Barclay``. I was not sure whether I was a doppelganger of someone or was taken for someone else. But then, perhaps I was just known for what I was. A little later I had a talk with Fabrice. He wanted me to meet with George Harrison. At that time I was into the music of Weather Report, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Miles Davis and John Coltrane. So I was not shouting out like: ``Oh, great, fantastic!`` More like (without beeing stuck-up):``O.K., why not.`` Nowadays I`d say it`s some kind of an honour to be asked to meet with George Harrison. What a pity, we never met. That year he did not show up in Cannes.
In the summer of `77 I moved to Wintrup in northern Germany, where the band `Kraan` had already lived for years. We`ve been friends for quite some time. The guitarist Peter Wolbrandt and the drummer Jan Fride wanted to try out something new. So we decided to form a new band together. We needed a bass player, I was into guitar and did not want to take over the bass part. I asked Lou Marignan, a bass player from Martinique, whom I met through a friend from Paris. He was playing with Eddy Mitchell before and had an offer to join the group of Johnny Hallyday. I snatched him away and alienated him to Germany.
We called the band `Yagua` and were about to become the new supergroup in Germany, a bit like eight years earlier `Blind Faith` for the world. Finally we didn`t make it. There was too much ego-trippin` from all of us. What a drag, but on the other hand I was lucky too. I got my first `Andy Goldner Band` called `Infinity` together. Of course I had asked Thommy Balluff to play the keys, Lou Marignan for the bass, and I was glad to find our fantastic drummer, who was livin` near Wintrup, Klaus Lorey. I already had the songs in my pocket, and the four of us developed that unique new style. We recorded demos and gave them to Conny Plank. He loved it and wanted to produce an album with us.
A guy I knew from Paris (I introduced him to Conny), was also interested in producing my album. He was the very first manager of the `Rolling Stones` and the man who made `The Yardbirds` big: Mr. Giorgio Gomelsky. But two producers were one too many, and because of the pleasant work with Conny on `exmagma goldball` and `exmagma 3`, I decided to stick with him. Sometimes I wonder how it all would have turned out with Giorgio in the producer`s chair. But no regrets, I`m still happy with the results, I`m just curious, that`s all. This was in 1978.
Conny had a lot of connections with record companies in Germany, but at that time our production did not fit in their repertoire. They were looking for disco stuff and middle of the road rock and roll. We didn't even try to get in touch with the new British labels, as they obviously were only going for that new craze called Punk. Had to get my own labels, I named them well known rec. and unknown rec. The single `Stone Free`, a Jimi Hendrix composition , with the B- side : `Winter `75`, and the album `Infinity` came out on well known records in autumn `78 and were distributed by Jaguar records, a company owned by friends of mine. In France Celluloid released a maxi single with `All those Lives` and `Club of Rome`. The album was not released on Celluloid, I did not come to an agreement with Jean Karakos about the money situation. But `Infinity` was available in France as an import.
In December we produced my first video, which premiered in Cannes early `79 at the Midem. During the year we played clubs and festivals in the summer. In autumn I had to stop playing due to an inflammation in my right arm.
I went back to Neusi`s place in Paris. We had lots of parties with Ron Wood, Larry Coryell, Paco de Lucia and many other musicians, writers, artists, in- and outsiders.
I was adviced by a friend from San Francisco to visit him and get treatment from a Chinese Doctor to cure my arm. That`s what I did. I stayed three months. Before I went back to Paris I signed a managing contract with the first manager of Huey Lewis and the American Express, later called `The News`.
January 1980 I began to work on my second solo album with Thommy Balluff, Peter Garattoni on drums and the late bass player Peter Weber at Spygel Studio in Kirchheim, Germany. In the summer `Belleville` was put out by Peak rec. and the song `White Lion in a Babylon` went to no.1 on Germany`s SDR ( the radio station all over South-Germany).
Die fuckin`gute Bürgerband
May 1980 I founded `Die fuckin`gute Buergerband` together with Joe Lindauer, Thommy Balluff, the live mixing engineer of `exmagma` Philipp Meier, Micha Motorrad, Angela Knill and Maggi Marquart. We recorded two albums:`Live in Stammheim` and ´Des endlose Krampf mit dem Egolaenders`.
1st of May we had our first gig without any rehersals ! A totally improvised performance , and it worked out! People loved it. Joe had the ability to make up ad-lib lyrics with rhyme and reason. Angela, the first time ever on a stage , did great too. She took over some lines from Joe, and sang and shouted `yeahs`,`oh´s´,`ah`s` and whatever came to her mind. The other 5 were experienced enough to let it flow. Me on alto sax, Thommy keys, Philipp guitar, Maggi bass and Micha on drums.
`Live in Stammheim` was recorded a few weeks later at an open air concert very close to the Stammheim prison. The inmates could listen to what we did. There was not really a rehersal in the common sense to prepare for the gig. We also had to find another drummer for that show, because Micha had to be in Hamburg that day. So I asked Peter Wolbrandt, as you should know by now, the guitar player of `Kraan`. He was fond of the idea to take over the drums for that date. We met three times to listen to our first concert and go over some parts we liked. After a while the improvisations were a little more structured. That was sufficient for us.
Six weeks later the vinyl LP came out as a limited edition of 1000 copies, each numbered by hand. It was sold out in days. If you wanna buy an album today, you might have to sell your car first to get the cash together. I believe there is, and never was a band who had the guts to do what we did there. Maybe on some other planet.
`Des endlose Krampf mit dem Egolaenders` is something else, of course. Joe and I wrote most of the songs, Maggi split , Philipp and I took over the bass. As my arm felt better I also played some guitar. On the live performances Philipp and I switched between guitar and bass. Joe, only for very few moments though, was allowed to show the world his dreadful devastating guitar stile with his 6, 5, 4 or even just 3 string Rickenbacker. He never learned a single chord, but the way he played was absolutely divine and unique.
We had a very big bus where we also could sleep in. So it was no problem for us to play one day in Hannover, Germany and the next day in Innsbruck ,Austria. We came around.
We played all thru the `80s and occasionally in the first half of the `90`s in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy.
Flash-back, Circles and the Dead
From the end of the `70s till the early `80s I recorded songs as singer, writer and guitarist for the albums of Hellmut Hattler, Alto, Peter Wolbrandt and `Da Da Dogs` of Roland Schaeffer.
In `86 my third solo album `Andy Goldner Band Live` came out on Jeton records. The band was: Thommy Balluff keys and vox, Jimi Wilkes guitar and vox, Blue Savage bass and vox, and Markus Hassold on drums. We played concerts till `88.
1989 `The Five-Fold Shade` reunited after 20 years for some concerts, tv- and radio shows and the recording of a vinyl single. 2005 we had our last gig at our `40 Years Up and Down Party`. 1999 Axel Kaufmann, our drummer and bandleader died. In the 60`s we sometimes played with two drummers. The second one, Bernd Pfau, took over Axel´s part in the summer of `99. Thomas Peter, the great guitar man and my best friend in the `60`s died in 2008. With two men gone, I decided to let the `Five-Fold Shade` rest in peace.
`Die Fuckin`Gute Buergerband` will also never ever perform again ! Joe Lindauer, the great showman and absolutely extraordinary painter died in a car crash in November 1996. When we`ve been talking about death he sometimes said :``I wanna die with my boots on.`` That worked out!
One year earlier cancer had killed Fred Braceful. He is the musician who influenced me more than any other. There are times when I feel extremely sad, I do miss them all so very much.
The new Experience: Helga Pictures
(how my guitar became a telephone)
In August 1990, when I locked my car near a park on the outskirts of Stuttgart, I heard some pretty extravagant, fantastic music. I had an appointment with friends at that tiny festival. While walking in the park I was pretty sure that what I was hearing was coming from a tape. It sounded too good for a band playing a festival like that. When I approached the stage I saw three guys on bass, drums and guitar doin` what I thought was probably a production of a new band from England. I looked around, everybody was staring at the stage as if they`d watch an ufo landing. And I`ve seen it too ! It was totally overwhelming. Tears ran down my cheeks.
Right after their performance I had a talk with them. They were not aware of the quality they had. We made an appointment for next monday to find out what we could do for each other. We all met at the guitarist/singer`s place. It didn`t take long to realize that the chemistry between us was great. We had to work together ! And we did.
First I organized two gigs in the same week at a small club in downtown Stuttgart. The band was still searching for a name which, wasn't bad for a start. People were even more curious about that new group. I invited press people, radio djs, musicians and other relevant folks from the Stuttgart scene.
With these gigs we started the fire. There was mouth to mouth-propaganda, and articles in the two biggest newspapers helped a lot too.
Next step: We found the name `Helga Pictures`, performed `Seaside of your love` in a tv-show, same day a concert with some other bands in front of a big audience, and a day later we`ve been invited to a radio show to talk and spin our favorite records of bands we like. I had asked the publisher Walter Holzbaur from Wintrup musik and Klaus Maack with Carlos Zarmutek of Contour music promotion, a tour agency, to attend the concert, what they actually did.
From that night on we had a publisher and a promoter. The two days were documented on super 8 mm film. Together with Wolfgang Horny and Ebi Niethammer I produced `Helga Pictures`s first Video clip `All 4 U` out of this material. It was aired frequently on MTV Europe.
Contour booked us as support act for the Willy DeVille tour and the tour of New Model Army. With these appearances we built up a constantly growing, but strong from the start fan base.
Walter Holzbaur invited A&R people from numerous record companies to the gigs. Many of them were eager to sign us. We acted on Walter`s advice and signed with Intercord. They had their main office in Stuttgart and represented big names like `Depeche Mode`, `Erasure` and `Primal Scream`. At that time the two German bands en vogue were `Helga Pictures` and `Die Fantastischen Vier`, and both came from Stuttgart. Just like Mercedes Benz and Porsche in the auto industry.
In 1991 I produced `Helga Pictures` first album and two singles at Conny`s Studio. Conny died years before, but his spirit was still around and his wife Christa Fast took care of the place. There were fantastic people working, it felt like home.
I produced the songs with a very narrow stereo balance, almost mono. I wanted to get this `right in your face sound`. We decided to do one song a day, which means: Later in the day till later in the evening Zam Helga, guitar, Dan Requardt , bass and F.L.O. on drums recorded the basic tracks together with hardly any instrumental overdubs, and then Zam`s vocals and some backings.
At night we mixed. Next day, early afternoon, we checked what we did the day/night before, and made, if necessary, some adjustments. Two weeks later the tapes were at Intercord. Werner Pawlok photographed the band and designed the cover. Now we had a great product ready to conquer the market.
More touring, but this time as headliners, in clubs all over Germany. More tv, more everything!
Early `93 in Hollywood. We had a house on Sunset drive, two cars to cruise and three months to do our second album. Reinhold Bogner, the creator of Bogner amplifiers, brought us together with Andrew MacKenzie, our engineer, and Shuna Holloman who took care of our affairs during production.
We recorded at `Studio 55` on Melrose and at `Boulevard Sound`, Hollywood Boulevard.
The mixing was done at `Studio 55`. This time we had 3 to 4 days to record a song and 3 days to work on the mixing. We had time to experiment, tryin` out all kinds of things.
Werner Pawlok came over for a week to produce the video for the song `Build it Up`. It was filmed on 16 mm. He also shot the photos for the album again. The music was mastered by Bernie Grundman.
During the production we had a gig in Austin, Texas and a tv-show in Hollywood called:``Let`s Rock&Roll with Basil Gold``. Helga Pictures performed 4 songs, there was an audience in the studio and special guests: Lemmy from `Motorhead` and Ronny James Dio.
The single `Winter Morning` came out in Germany before we left California. The album `Build it Up` was released in May `93.
The contract for the European tour as support act for Lenny Kravitz was almost signed, but Robert Plant of `Led Zeppelin` was also interested to perform his new solo album on this tour. We could not keep up with the bidding, so he took over.
We played another club-tour and festivals. More German tv, a gig filmed by MTV Europe, lots of radio interviews, articles in music-mags and daily papers and so on: the daily grind. And then, one day in summer `93, Zam came to me and said:``Either I quit the band or I jump out of a window``. I did not say :``Jump!``. A few weeks later I and `Helga Pictures` with Zam Helga, Dan Requardt and F.L.O. stopped all activities.
The Score: Musik & Film
I went on composing music for films. I wrote the score for 12 movies from `92 to ´99.
The first one in `92 I did together with `Helga Pictures`. A friend of mine, Ben Becker, had his first leading role in a movie called `Landschaft mit Dornen` directed by Bernd Böhlich. Ben suggested to Bernd to engage us for the score. That`s what he did. The film won a Grimme-Prize and was one of the best Europeen films chosen for the 3 Sat TV-selection.
I composed the music for two films of the `Tatort` series to which Ben and I wrote the title songs ´Rotes Haar` and `Unter Druck`.
The broadcast of the film `Der Kindermord`, very close to a true story, had to be postponed due to the appeal hearing of the case in court the following day. The judge had to make sure that no one at court would be influenced by the outcome of the movie. This issue was a big thing for the media. The film won the `Goldener Löwe`of RTL and was nominated for several awards.
In `Das Hochzeitsgeschenk` I performed as an actor in a side role. Besides writing the score I produced the songs we did together with Armin Rohde. I was on guitar, Lou played the bass, Thommy the keys and Sven Hessler drums. The band in the film is called `The Heartbreakers`.
`Piranyas` were a street-hockey gang including my son Miles Pitwell. These guys had been fallin` over my instruments and vinyls all the time - and they were nosey! With growing interest I had to show them some guitar chords and basslines. Soon they were the youngest rockband in Germany. And they could play! They were a four piece band with two guitars, bass and drums. When we recorded their first album they were 12 years old. They became quite famous in the southern part of the country. TV, videoclip, radio and gigs. Soon they had to write autographs.
One day people from the biggest Popmag in Europe, Bravo, were ready to hype them into pop heaven. But they wanted to force them to record songs the Bravo guys had written with their associates. The boys and me didn't like the idea nor the songs. We had to refuse their offer.
So the `Piranyas` could stay kids writing some songs and autographs, playing some gigs, doing a little tv and radio and go to school.
The sharks couldn't swallow the `Piranyas`!
They played till 2005. They recorded two albums `Kleine Fische` and ´Live in Finkenbach´.
Miles Pitwell, Dan Ranucci and Niels Bossmann still are inseparable.
The new Millenium. Past, Present and Future
After four very busy, extremely intensive, almost mind-blowing and heart-exploding decades, I guess the time had come to pay my dues to sanity. I had to slow down a bit in order to live through the first decade of the new millennium.
In 2000 my back hurt so bad that I had to stop playing and intensive treatment began. I was lucky to find Stephan Roth! He helped me with accupuncture and other Chinese skills to survive the pain. I almost lost confidence in life. But he guided me through these wild waters. After almost one year I slowly recovered.
Now I have one hour of exercises and an hour walking through nature in my daily schedule.
After ten years I still see Stephan Roth for treatment. In the first year it was almost every day. The following years at least once a week. Now the intervals can be up to eight weeks or even longer. Now I can fly to the moon again !
2004: `exmagma` and `exmagma goldball` re-issued on vinyl and cd by daily-records.
2006: `exmagma 3` on daily-records hits the market, 31 years after its planned release.
2009, 36 years after its first release, exmagma/exmagma goldball climbs into the top 5 downloads of Anthology Recordings , New York; `exmagma 3` is on best albums list 2009 of Beyond Beyond is Beyond.
January 2010: Andy Goldner `Infinity` Video launched on Anthology. Anthology`s Top 50 Songs for 2009 includes exmagma`s `Habits` at no.17 and `All those Lives` of the Andy Goldner `Infinity` album at no.25.
February 2010 The movie 'Jetzt und Alles', music by Andy Goldner, released on DVD by Walt Disney Home Entertainment .
2003-2005 I co-produced in my studio and elsewhere the timeless, time-consuming production of Steven Hutt`s and Tom Saup`s `Parallel Movement` with guest guitarist Vernon Reid.
Each winter since 2005 I`m working on my film `Kill My Daily Vampire`. A lot of the shooting took place outdoors in the snow. Two fingers of my right hand are slightly frostbitten. I can only handle the camera without glove on the right hand. Art bites! I hope the film will have its first night by the end of 2010.
I will produce Thommy Balluff`s first solo album in spring 2010. I have new songs and many ideas on demo tape. Will there be time for a new AG album? If we find the right drummer Thommy and I would probabely relaunch `exmagma`. We`ll see.
There is also lots of work waiting in my archive. I call it:`Finishing the Past`. There are live-films, tv-shows, video-clips, audio live- and studio-production outtakes to digitalize and edit to finally throw the stuff onto the market one day. Let`s not forget the cd, vinyl, dvd and what so ever covers!
There`s loads of work to do.
No time to retire !