Years active 28
Alphaville is a German synthpop group which gained popularity in the 1980s. The founding members were Marian Gold (real name Hartwig Schierbaum, born 26 May 1954 in Herford, North Rhine-Westphalia), Bernhard Lloyd (real name Bernhard Gößling, born 6 June 1960 in Enger, North Rhine-Westphalia), and Frank Mertens (real name Frank Sorgatz, born 26 October 1961 in Enger, North Rhine-Westphalia). The band was at first named Forever Young before changing to Alphaville. They are best known for their two biggest hits, "Big in Japan" and "Forever Young". As of 2010 they have sold over 6,000,000 albums.
Alphaville was born in early 1982, when Marian Gold and Bernhard Lloyd met each other at the music project Nelson Community. Some months later, Frank Mertens joined the project. Together the three wrote Forever Young and recorded their first demo of the same name. In 1984, the newly-renamed Alphaville released their debut single, "Big in Japan", which Gold wrote in 1979 after hearing the music of Holly Johnson's band Big in Japan. In autumn 1984, they released their debut album, Forever Young. Despite its success, Frank Mertens left the band that year and was replaced in January 1985 by Ricky Echolette (born Wolfgang Neuhaus, in Cologne on 7 August 1960), who was credited on the Forever Young album.
"Big In Japan" was Alphaville's biggest hit, topping the charts in Germany, Greece, Switzerland, Sweden, Venezuela and the U.S. Billboard Dance Chart (the group's only Top 10 on any Billboard chart). The single also reached the Top Five in Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Ireland and South Africa. It became the group's only Top 20 single in the UK, peaking at #8.
Amid reports that pop star Laura Branigan was featuring the song on her next album, Hold Me, Alphaville's "Forever Young" was re-released as a single in the US, but it did not prove to be massively popular. Branigan's version, though promoted on stickers adorning the album, subsequently remained an album cut in the US. She would go on to perform the song as an encore at nearly every concert she performed, until her death in 2004. The Alphaville version was released a third time in the US in 1988, to promote Alphaville: The Singles Collection, and peaked at #65, their highest charting (and also last) single on the Billboard Hot 100. International re-releases of Alphaville's "Forever Young" followed in 1989, 1993, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2005 and 2009. Several covers have been recorded featuring male or female vocalists often erroneously attributed to be Alphaville's Marian Gold or Laura Branigan.
In 1986, their second album, Afternoons in Utopia, was released and its first single "Dance With Me" was a Top 20 hit in Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, South Africa and in remix form on the US Hot Maxi Singles chart, and reached the Top 30 in Austria, Italy and in the US Club Play chart. The album's second single was "Universal Daddy". For their third single, the band released "Jerusalem" in Germany only, while they went with "Sensations" for Austria, France, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. The final single from Afternoons in Utopia was "Red Rose", in 1987.
The LP was followed up in 1989 with The Breathtaking Blue, including the acclaimed (if not so successful) singles "Romeos" and "Mysteries of Love". The album was released as a CD+G, including black & white stills with original lyrics and German translation. As an alternative to individual music videos, the band enlisted nine directors, among them Godfrey Reggio (Koyaanisqatsi), to create a film entitled Songlines based on the album's tracks.
The next album, Prostitute, was not released until 1994. The first single released was "Fools", followed by the second and last single from the album, "The Impossible Dream". In 1996, Ricky Echolette left the band.
Salvation, a back-to-the-roots opus, followed in 1997.
Stark Naked and Absolutely Live was released in 2000
Bernhard Lloyd did not contribute to the 2003 album CrazyShow, and shortly after its release on March 18, 2003, he officially left the group. The current core stage members of Alphaville are Marian Gold (vocals), Martin Lister (keyboards), David Goodes (guitars) and Jakob Kiersch (drums).
The album "Catching Rays On Giant", the first commercial studio album in 13 years, was released on November 19, 2010 and entered the official German album charts at number 9 in its first week of release. It is available in two formats, one as a 12-track CD and the other a deluxe edition with CD plus 4 bonus tracks and DVD. It is also available digitally from various download platforms. The DVD in the deluxe package includes the video to the first single and a documentary titled "Audiovision" which is there in a normal version and also in a 3D version. The package contains 3D glasses to enable the viewer to enjoy this. The band held an album release party, where they played a short unplugged set, at the Quasimodo Club in Berlin on the evening of 18 November 2010 to which their closest fans and friends were invited.
The album uniquely features band member Martin Lister on lead vocals on the track "Call Me Down".
Alphaville's song "Forever Young" was featured in the movie Listen to Me (1989) featuring Kirk Cameron in one of his first film roles. It appeared also in an episode of the sitcom It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia entitled "Underage Drinking: A National Concern" during a scene in which the main characters attend a high-school prom. Additionally, "Forever Young" was played in a high school prom-related scene in the 2004 film Napoleon Dynamite. The American car company Saturn also used "Forever Young" in a promotional advertisement for the Saturn Ion.
Swedish Melodic Metal Band Embraced did a cover of "Big in Japan" on their 1998 Album Amorous Anathema. In 2000, Guano Apes also covered "Big in Japan" in their second full-length album, Don't Give Me Names. A puppet version of Wayne Rooney sings a karaoke version of "Big in Japan" on an episode of I'm on Setanta Sports. Rooney's team, Manchester United was in Japan that week for the FIFA World Cup Championship. Oakley's 2005 snowboarding DVD entitled The Community Project featured Alphaville's "Big in Japan" in the Japan sequence. In 2008, "Big in Japan" was featured in the commercial for the Swedish TV show Stor i Japan (Translated: Big in Japan) and was also used several times within the show, using different cover versions as the opening theme. VH1 Classic's show 120 Minutes often features the song.
In the first part of 2006, Australian guitar band Youth Group took their remake of "Forever Young" to #1 in the Official Australian Charts, thanks in part to exposure the track had received from being on popular US TV series The O.C. and its fifth TV soundtrack CD, Music from the OC: Mix 5. In 2007 and 2008, "Forever Young" was used in a commercial for Tourism New Zealand in their Worldwide "100% Pure New Zealand" Campaign. In 2009, "Forever Young" was featured in HBO's Big Love episode #27 after Sarah Henrickson tells her brother Ben in the sunrise after prom that she is pregnant.
The German-Tunisian rapper Bushido sampled the song "Forever Young" on his 2008 song "Für immer jung" featuring Karel Gott. The song appeared on his eighth album Heavy Metal Payback.In 2009, the single "Young Forever" from the album The Blueprint 3 featured Jay-Z rapping over a version of the song "Forever Young" sung by Mr Hudson.
The Alphaville song "Big in Japan" was sung by contestant István Szarka on the Hungarian talent show Megasztár in May 2010. The song quickly became a YouTube sensation dubbed "Bikicsunáj", complete with subtitles mocking Szarka's lack of understanding and poor pronunciation of the English lyrics. Adrien (member of the band BB Brunes) and Keren Ann sang « Big in Japan» during the television/radio programme Taratata broadcasted on France2, France4 and Europe1 in March 2011.