Marius Müller-Westernhagen: With peppermint to star | – culture – music

Status: 05/20/2022 00:00

No compromises – that’s what the young Marius Müller-Westernhagen stood for. His flat share with Otto Waalkes and Udo Lindenberg is legendary.

by Goetz Steeger

He doesn’t match the “Zeitgeist” that he sings about on his current single – and probably didn’t intend it at all: Marius Müller-Westernhagen or in short: MMW, West German rock n’ roll sovereignty for five decades.

Westernhagen video shows today’s major disasters

In the music video for “Zeitgeist,” he paces nervously and increasingly terrified in a room projected onto the walls of film scenes depicting the great catastrophes of the here and now: melting glaciers and Fridays for Future demos; George Floyd killed by a police officer in the USA in 2020 and Black Lives Matter, Covid and a little later also scenes from the war of aggression in Ukraine.

Westernhagen: I don’t want any more compromises

As beaten and stunned as the singer in the video may seem, the song itself doesn’t tell the apocalypse. As usual, they rock in a straightforward and Marius-typical way – the proven sound to which young and old ecstatically stretch their fists.

Marius Müller-Westernhagen alone decides who he works with, when and where recording and production take place and how the whole thing sounds in the end. “I know how things work in the industry today. So I finish my albums , finance it yourself and then offer it. I don’t want any compromises either,” he says.

Artist flat share with Otto Waalkes and Udo Lindenberg

No compromises – that was the credo of the young, wild Marius, who set out to stir up the Düsseldorf music scene in the mid-1960s. On his other mainstay, acting, he had already gained experience. He was only 14 when he landed his first role. Now he took singing lessons, taught himself guitar and founded his first band. “Harakiri Whoom” caused quite a stir, mainly because of the frontman, whose “shouter quality” was influenced by bands like the Small Faces. The typical Westernhagen singing style was born.

At the beginning of the 1970s he was drawn to Hamburg – this is where the music played, most record companies were based in Hamburg and there were also better prospects here as an actor. In the legendary artists’ flat share “Villa Kunterbunt” Westernhagen met the Hamburg scene that was just forming with Otto Waalkes and Udo Lindenberg. As you know, what was hatched here went down in pop history.

“With peppermint I’m your prince” MMW became a superstar

During this time, MMW made important film and television contacts, and he signed a record deal. It was the golden age of the music industry, and young talent wasn’t under any pressure to hit the ground running with their first release. Westernhagen’s big breakthrough came with their fourth album in 1978: “Mit Pfefferminz bin ich dein Prinz” went through the roof, the lanky rock n’ roll underdog with the “shouter qualities” was now a superstar.

Westernhagen was also successful as an actor

The perfect match for the chummy, proletarian rock image was his role as the long-distance driver Theo Gromberg in “Theo Against the Rest of the World”, the most successful German movie of 1980.

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Seven years later he decided to end his acting career. As a singer he became more successful than ever, the time for big stadium performances had come. His best-known song “Freiheit” also dates from this period. It was actually intended as a song about the French Revolution, but got caught up in the mills of history and involuntarily became the anthem of reunification.

Farewell to the big stages at the end of the 90s

At the end of the 90s, MMW had had enough of the big stadium stages, the “PR business”, as he explained at the time, had become too much for him. However, the smaller venues and the fewer sold sound carrier units in the 2000s could not harm his artistic status.

On the contrary – the Westernhagen anno 2022 can report relaxed: “The ambition to have great success is completely gone. It is also more than satisfied.”

additional Information

Westerhagen concert in Hamburg, April 2014 © Mirko Hannemann Photo: Mirko Hannemann

Marius Müller-Westernhagen is one of the most successful German musicians – his career began as an actor. picture gallery

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NDR Culture | NDR Culture à la carte | 20.05.2022 | 13:00

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