Floh de Cologne – Mumien-cover by HR Giger

Floh de Cologne – Mumien-cover by HR Giger

Who still remembers the political cabaret and later rock music from “Floh de Cologne”? It was a long, long time ago and there were so many special features that would suit many an artist today.

Every Floh de Cologne stage program always included a programmatic poster, often even for the record covers. The back of the poster contained the entire text of the program and, if necessary, “instructions” for action and literature references for further “private revolutionary activity”. The front was designed by artist friends such as HR Giger, Dieter Süverkrüp, Stefan Siegert and Wolfgang Niedecken.

Mummies (Mumien) – record cover by HR Giger brings back memories

floh de cologne mumienDuring our visit to the exhibition “Metamorphoses” in the Ales South Bohemian Gallery in the Czech Republic about the life's work of the Swiss HR Giger, we came across the record cover of the political rock band Floh de Cologne, which we still remember well, which was also used as an advertising poster for the concert series was used. As is always the case with Giger's works, they are initially dark and sometimes cruel, but upon closer inspection it is the details that reveal great art. These posters and the LPs were sold personally by the group after the events, just as they did everything else themselves; There were no professional construction helpers, the so-called roadies. It was part of the group's code of honor to do one's own work, if possible, and thereby keep the admission prices low so that the target groups (apprentices, young workers, students, pupils) found access as easily as possible. Quote from a program booklet from 1978:

“Floh de Cologne, that is not a golden record or a golden nose, not a place in the hit parade or the evening program on television, not an art or culture prize and not a subsidy. That is bad luck".

SimSAlabimbambaSAladUSAladim – typical Floh de Cologne

floh de cologne 05When the originally conventional cabaret group had experienced underground bands such as the Mothers of Invention, the Fugs and the Edgar Broughton Band at the Essen Song Days in 1968, they reoriented themselves stylistically with their third program SimSAlabimbambaSAladUSAladim and combined agitational texts with beat music and a stage show to form so-called “agitations -Revuen” and developed into one of the leading political rock bands.

On September 6, 1970, the group performed at the Fehmarn Festival after Jimi Hendrix; Incidentally, this was his last appearance. In 1971, Floh de Cologne created Profitgeier, the first German-language rock opera.

floh de cologne 01In the three-movement Geyer Symphony from 1973, the band incorporated original excerpts from politicians' speeches on the occasion of the funeral of the German industrialist Friedrich Flick into their music. In 1973, Floh de Cologne appeared as a musical part of a West German delegation at the Xth World Youth Festival in East Berlin.

With the cantata for rock band “Mumien” the band responded to the coup in Chile in 1973 in 1974, including a setting to music of the last speech of the overthrown President Salvador Allende. In the same year, the group, together with Hans Werner Henze, developed alternative settings of the Chile song (This Chilean summer was sweet; 1974), text: Rudi Bergmann (* 1950), premiere was on May 31, 1974 in Essen (Grugahalle: memorial concert for Víctor Jara , also a solidarity event for the resistance in Chile).

Rock against right - today more urgent than ever

floh de cologne 02His collaboration with Mauricio Kagel on the “Cologne Courses for Political Music” (1975) also crossed borders. In 1980, in the rock opera Koslowsky, for which the band had researched on location for a year, Floh de Cologne traced the fate of a worker from the Ruhr area who comes to the Maxhütte in Bavaria.

From 1980 onwards, parts of the band (Vridolin Enxing as chairman) were active in Rock gegen Rechts; In the same year the group received the German Cabaret Prize together with Gerhard Polt.

After over 3,000 concerts in Germany and Europe, Floh de Cologne disbanded in May 1983 after a farewell tour. The farewell concert in the Cologne sports hall had 6,000 spectators and lasted 14 hours with the participation of numerous musicians such as Hannes Wader, Dieter Süverkrüp, Franz-Josef Degenhardt, Hanns-Dieter Hüsch, Die 3 Tornados, BAP and Ina Deter.

floh de cologne 04Floh de Cologne produced his LPs with Dieter Dierks, where Wallenstein, Embryo, Tangerine Dream, Witthüser & Westrupp, Ash Ra Tempel, Hoelderlin, Jeronimo and other later greats of German rock also made their recordings. After moving to Plans-Verlag, they made their recordings in one of the most important recording studios for German, and later also international, pop avant-garde music by Conny Plank, who is considered the “midwife” of the so-called Krautrock. There they met, among other things: on Holger Czukay, Can, Grobschnitt, Kraan, Zupfgeigenhansel, Gianna Nannini and others.

By the way: The exhibition “Metamorphoses” can be seen in the Ales South Bohemian gallery until November 19th, it’s worth it!

Aleš South Bohemian Gallery until November 19, 2023 (link to map)

Hluboká nad Vltavou 144, 373 41 Hluboká nad Vltavou, Czech Republic

Please read as well:

HR Giger - Invitation to the exhibition “Metamorphoses”

Deep Purple Tribute Band Strange Kind of Women


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