Udo Jürgens

Udo Jürgens (born Jürgen Udo Bockelmann; 30 September 1934 – 21 December 2014) was an Austrian composer and singer of popular music whose career spanned over fifty years. He won the Eurovision Song Contest 1966 for Austria, composed close to 1,000 songs, and sold over 100 million records.[1] In 2007 he additionally obtained Swiss citizenship.[2]

Udo Jürgens
Udo Jürgens in September 2010
Background information
Birth nameJürgen Udo Bockelmann
Born(1934-09-30)30 September 1934
Klagenfurt, Federal State of Austria (nowadays Republic of Austria)
Died21 December 2014(2014-12-21) (aged 80)
Münsterlingen, Switzerland
GenresPop, schlager
InstrumentsVocals, piano
Years active1950–2014
Websitewww.udojuergens.de (in German)

He is credited with broadening German-language pop music beyond the traditional postwar "Schlager" (hit song) in the 1950s by infusing it with a modern pop appeal and French chanson style. His compositions and arrangements attracted fans of all ages. Until his death at age 80 he continued to fill venues in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.[3]


In 1952 Udo Bolan, as he was called then, formed the Udo Bolan Quartet In Klagenfurt, Austria appearing regularly at the Café Obelisk in Klagenfurt with Englishman Johnny Richards on drums, Klaus Behmel on guitar and Bruno Geiger on Bass. The quartet played regularly at various dance and jazz venues and also broadcast on Radio Alpenland and the British Forces Radio network produced by Mike Fior.

In 1950, he won a composer contest organized by Austria's public broadcasting channel ORF with the song "Je t'aime". He wrote the 1961 worldwide hit "Reach for the Stars", sung by Shirley Bassey.[4]

In 1964, he represented Austria for the first time at the Eurovision Song Contest 1964 with the song "Warum nur, warum?", finishing sixth. The UK participant, Matt Monro, was impressed with the melody and covered the song (with English lyrics by his manager Don Black) as "Walk Away," which reached number four in the UK Singles Chart and number 23 in the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Jürgens' song "Sag ihr, ich lass sie grüßen" came fourth in 1965's contest, and on his third try he won the Eurovision Song Contest 1966 in Luxembourg with "Merci, Chérie", which became an English-language hit for Vince Hill, another cover by Monro, and one of Jürgens' most recognized compositions. Jürgens' version alone sold over one million copies, and he was awarded a gold disc by Deutsche Vogue in 1966.[5]

In the following years, he wrote the songs, like "Griechischer Wein", "Aber bitte mit Sahne", "Mit 66 Jahren", and — one of his biggest successes — "Buenos Días, Argentina", which he performed together with the Germany national football team in 1978.

In 1977, he invited The Supremes to appear as guests on his televised and recorded gala concert. The Supremes (Mary Wilson, Scherrie Payne, and Susaye Green), who were on a brief farewell tour of Europe at the time, performed two of their own hits, "You Are The Heart of Me" and "You're My Driving Wheel", as well as a duet with Jürgens' "Walk Away" in English.[6]

In 1979, he released a disco album entitled Udo '80. It produced a hit song "Ich weiß was ich will". This song was also released as a 12 inch disco single in an extended remix for discothèques.

On 2 December 2007, the jukebox musical Ich war noch niemals in New York (I've never been to New York) opened in Hamburg's Operettenhaus. It weaves songs by Jürgens into a familial storyline, similar to the treatment of ABBA songs in Mamma Mia!, the musical it succeeded at the venue.

Since 2015, Udo Jürgens holds the worldwide-record as the artist with the longest presence in the charts ever - more than 57 years from his first entry 1958 till 2015. [7]

Cover versions

"Merci, Chérie", whose original German lyrics were written by Thomas Hörbiger, has been translated or adapted into several languages and covered by dozens of artists in both vocal and instrumental recordings. These versions include:

  • "Merci Chérie" by Claude Carrère and André Salvet (French)
  • "Merci" by Vito Pallavicini (Italian)
  • "Merci Cherie" by Baker Cavendish (English)
  • "Merci Cherie" by Fred Bekky (Dutch)
  • "Merci Chérie" by Al Sandström (Swedish)
  • "Merci Chérie" by Gina Trandafirescu (Romanian)
  • "Merci Cheri" by Andrzej Ozga (Polish)

Jürgens himself recorded many of the translations for international release, including a version in Japanese. More recent covers include Belinda Carlisle's 2007 recording of the French version.[8]

In addition to recording Cavendish's "Merci, Chérie" lyric, Matt Monro covered five more Jürgens compositions, all with English lyrics (unrelated to the German ones) written by his manager Don Black. Four of these became closely associated with the British singer (and were subsequently covered by Jürgens himself):

  • "Warum nur warum?" became "Walk Away" (a 1964 Top 40 hit in both the U.S. and UK)
  • "Du sollst die Welt für mich sein" became "Without You" (a 1965 UK Top 40 hit)
  • "Was Ich Dir Sagen Will" became "The Music Played" (1968)
  • "Illusionen" became "If I Never Sing Another Song" (1977), which was later performed by Frankie Laine, Shirley Bassey, Sammy Davis, Jr., and other entertainers.

A fifth Jürgens song, "In Dieser Welt," became "Lovin' You Again," and in 1969 Monro recorded both Spanish and English versions, the latter not released until August 2012.[9] (Monro also recorded Spanish versions of "Walk Away" and "The Music Played"; all three Spanish lyrics were adapted for Monro from Black's versions by Leonardo Schultz, who also produced the Spanish recordings.)

In one of his last recording sessions, Bing Crosby covered an English version of Jürgens' "Griechischer Wein" called "Come Share The Wine," which also was written by Black.[10] The song was released after Crosby's death in 1977 as the title track of a compilation album and was later recorded by Al Martino.

In the early 1990s, the German thrash metal band Sodom released a 'metalized' cover of the boogie "Aber bitte mit Sahne".

In 2009 the German band Sportfreunde Stiller covered "Ich war noch niemals in New York" together with Jürgens on their MTV Unplugged concert in Munich.


On 21 December 2014, Jürgens died of acute heart failure in Münsterlingen, Switzerland at the age of 80. With Austria's success at the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest, the first since Jürgens' success in 1966, Jürgens expressed his interest in performing in the interval of the next contest. With his death, the organisers of the 2015 contest in Vienna paid tribute to him with a tribute day on 20 May and at the beginning of the grand final.[11][12]


  • His brother, Manfred Bockelmann (born 1 July 1943), is a painter.
  • His son by first marriage, John Jürgens (born 20 February 1964), is a singer, actor and DJ.
  • His daughter by his first marriage, Jenny Jürgens (born 22 January 1967), is an actress.
  • His uncle, Werner Bockelmann (23 September 1907 – 7 April 1968), was mayor of Frankfurt am Main

Udo Jürgens was not related to the singer Andrea Jürgens nor to the actor Curd Jürgens.


  • Portrait in Musik (1965)
  • Merci, Chérie (1966, Eurovision)
  • Chansons (1967)
  • Portrait in Musik 2. Folge (1967)
  • Was ich Dir sagen will (1967)
  • Mein Lied für Dich (1968)
  • Udo (1968)
  • Wünsche zur Weihnachtszeit (1968)
  • Udo Live (1969)
  • Portrait International (1969)
  • Udo '70 (1969)
  • Udo '71 (1970)
  • Zeig mir den Platz an der Sonne (1971)
  • Helden, Helden (Musical) (1972)
  • Ich bin wieder da (1972)
  • Udo in Concert – Europatournee '72/'73 (1973)
  • International 2 (1973)
  • Live in Japan (1973)
  • Udo heute (1974)
  • Meine Lieder (1974)
  • Udo '75 (1975)
  • Meine Lieder 2 (1976)
  • Udo Live '77 (1977)
  • Meine Lieder '77 (1977)
  • Lieder, die auf Reisen gehen (1978)
  • Buenos Días Argentina (Football World-Championship) (1978)
  • Ein Mann und seine Lieder – Live (1978)
  • Nur ein Lächeln (1979)
  • Udo '80 (1979)
  • Meine Lieder sind wie Hände – Live (1980)
  • Leave a Little Love (1981)
  • Willkommen in meinem Leben (1981)
  • Silberstreifen (1982)
  • Udo Live – Lust am Leben (1982)
  • Traumtänzer (1983)
  • Hautnah (1984)
  • Udo Live und hautnah (1985)
  • Treibjagd (1985)
  • Deinetwegen (1986)
  • Udo Live '87 (1987)
  • Das blaue Album (1988)
  • Sogar Engel brauchen Gluck (Best of compilation incl. 5 remakes) (1989)
  • Ohne Maske (1989)
  • Live ohne Maske (1990)
  • Sempre Roma (Football World-Championship) (1990)
  • Das Traumschiff (Instrumental Soundtrack) (1990)
  • Geradeaus (1991)
  • Open Air Symphony (1992)
  • Cafe Größenwahn (1993)
  • Aber bitte mit Sahne (Hits compilation incl. 1 new song and 2 remakes) (1994)
  • 140 Tage Cafe Größenwahn Tour 94/95 (1995)
  • Zärtlicher Chaot (1995)
  • Gestern-Heute-Morgen (1996)
  • Gestern-Heute-Morgen – Live '97 (1997)
  • Aber bitte mit Sahne 2 (Hits compilation incl. 8 remakes) (1998)
  • Ich werde da sein (1999)
  • Mit 66 Jahren (Was wichtig ist) (2000)
  • Mit 66 Jahren – Live 2001 (2001)
  • Es lebe das Laster (2002)
  • Es werde Licht (2003)
  • Es Lebe das Laster – Udo Live (2004)
  • Jetzt oder nie (2005)
  • Der Solo-Abend – Live am Gendarmenmarkt (2005)
  • Jetzt Oder Nie – Live 2006 (2006)
  • Einfach Ich (2008)
  • Einfach Ich – Live 2009 (2009)
  • Best Of (incl. 1 remake Live by MTV unplugged) (2009)
  • Der ganz normale Wahnsinn (2011)
  • Der Mann mit dem Fagott (Soundtrack to his own movie) (2011)
  • Der ganz normale Wahnsinn – LIVE (2012)
  • Mitten im Leben (2014)
  • Udo Jürgens Live – Das letzte Konzert Zürich 2014 mit dem Orchester Pepe Lienhard (new Live Album recorded at his last concert of his last tour, 7 December 2014, only two weeks before he suddenly dies) (2015)
  • Merci, Udo! (2016)
  • Merci, Udo! 2 (2017)


  1. Jan Meyer-Veden (29 July 2004). "Philosophische Hilfestellungen (159. Folge). Diesmal für: Udo Jürgens, Selbstdarsteller". Lebensart (in German). Zeit Online. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
  2. Udo Jürgens ist jetzt Schweizer, article published on 28 February 2007 at blick.ch (in German)
  3. Dave Thompson. "Udo Jürgens Biography". All Music Guide. Retrieved 26 October 2012.
  4. "German Music: Udo Jurgens". World Languages and Cultures - Germans. Vistawide.com. Retrieved 10 May 2010.
  5. Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 206. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  6. "THE SUPREMES LIVE WITH UDO JURGENS 1977 - Mp3 Download (3.65 MB)". Archived from the original on 22 December 2014. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  7. "German Chartblog: 2nd of Jan 2015: First List of the Year". Germanchartblog.blogspot.de. 25 September 2009. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  8. "Merci Cherie". SecondHandSongs.com. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
  9. Richard Moore. "Matt Uncovered - The Rarer Monro". MintAudioRestoration.com. Retrieved 3 October 2012.
  10. William Ruhlmann. "Come Share The Wine". AllMusic.com. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
  11. "Finale: Tribute für Udo Jürgens". Eurovision Song Contest Vienna 2015. ORF. Archived from the original on 26 March 2015. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  12. "Eurovision Village zollt Udo Jürgens Tribut". Vienna Online. 20 May 2015. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
France Gall
with "Poupée de cire, poupée de son"
Winner of the Eurovision Song Contest
Succeeded by
Sandie Shaw
with "Puppet on a String"
Preceded by
Carmela Corren
with "Vielleicht geschieht ein Wunder"
Austria in the Eurovision Song Contest
"Warum nur warum?"(1964)
and "Sag ihr, ich lass sie grüßen"(1965)
with "Merci, Chérie"(1966)
Succeeded by
Peter Horton
with "Warum es hunderttausend Sterne gibt"
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