The Musician Falco (1957–1998)

Musical talent from Austria

 The Austrian pop star Falco

Er war Superstar, er war populär, er war so exaltiert, because er hatte Flair, er war ein Virtuose, war ein Rockidol” (“He was a superstar, he was popular, he was so eccentric, because he had flair, he was a virtuoso, was a rock-idol”) – these were the lines Falco sang about Mozart in his hit “Rock Me Amadeus”, but they could just as well be about him. A professor at the Music Academy described him as a “little Mozart”, and as a child he could easily reproduce hits he heard on the radio on piano.

“I had a lot of chances to go to America. I didn’t do it, because the best thing about America is the red and white stripes on the flag.” Falco on why he didn’t pursue his ambitions of becoming a world-wide star. (By way of explanation: the Austrian flag has three horizontal stripes in red, white and red.)

Falco, real name Hans Hölzl

had everything necessary for a career in the music business and more: perfect pitch, musical talent, strict discipline, an outwardly excessive self-confidence, and a feel for putting himself in the spotlight. And little Hansi knew very early on what he wanted to be: a pop-star. Not a musician, but a pop-star. And that’s what he became, with everything that comes with it: unbelievable success, fear of failure, a difficult private life, a lifestyle full of excess, and a dramatic early death in a car accident.

Falco was the only Austrian pop-star who managed to achieve international fame beyond the borders of his small home country. No other German-speaking singer has reached the top of the US charts before or since, although the language he sang in wasn’t actually pure German.

 Music video Falco

 Album of Falco

 Solitary cutout of lyrics

He spoke and sang in his own “Manhattan-Schönbrunner-Deutsch”, a mishmash of Viennese, high German and English. In combination with his nasal pronunciation and his slicked-back hair this was often interpreted by critics as arrogance. And his lyrics about decadence, love and drugs only strengthened this impression. Falco was an alter-ego, a fictitious character. Hansi Hölzl, who had a close relationship with his mother and who cancelled a world tour because of homesickness, knew how to sell himself – and as Falco he was very good at that!

Text: Verena Brandtner, Fotos: Christine Wurnig, Bild Falco auf Bühne: Wienmuseum/Didi Sattmann (Falco 1985)