Ireen Sheer: A new life off stage

Ireen Sheer is enjoying her new life away from the stage. The pop star celebrates his 75th birthday on Sunday.

Somehow it seems timeless. Because we have always seen them that way, for a good 50 years. Girlishly slim, with long, dark blonde hair and only the faintest hint of wrinkles around her large, brown eyes. Pop singer Ireen Sheer turns 75 on February 25th.

Your name sounds like an English stage name that was once very popular in the German hit industry, a Tony Marshall (1938-2023) was actually called Anton Hilger, and a Horst Nußbaum became Jack White (83). Things are a little different with Ireen Sheer. She is truly a native English woman. Her father was a soldier in the British Army of the Rhine, married a German woman from Düsseldorf, and their daughter Ireen was born in Romford, east of London, in 1949. However, the family listened to the name Wooldridge, and it didn’t sound so good when Ireen started singing. She called herself Sheer – after her German grandmother’s maiden name, which was converted into English and was called Schir.

She finds her purpose early on

She got into showbiz as a child. In 1961, at the age of twelve, she won a BBC talent competition. She sings “It’s now or never” by Elvis Presley (1935-1977) – and finds her purpose. “That was the first time I was on a stage with a microphone. It was in a beautiful theater – the audience was sitting there, I only saw the silhouettes. Then there was applause […] And then I knew: That’s what I wanted to do with my life,” she later said in an interview with MDR.

Although she did a banking apprenticeship after school, she was already singing in the British pop group Family Dog, which occasionally featured stars like Albert Hammond (79) and Jimmy Page (80). In 1970 she embarked on a solo career – and ended up in Germany pretty quickly, because Ireen grew up bilingual and mostly spent her holidays with her maternal grandparents in the Rhineland.

She has a sweet, distinctive English accent about which her mother often says, “Don’t lose it!”. German record labels also thought so, and because she also had a pretty voice, Polydor brought the German version of the English hit “Hey Pleasure Man” onto the market in 1971 with her and the song “Oh Holiday”. Then the successful composer Ralph Siegel (78) writes “Goodbye Mama” for her, with which she reaches the top 5 of the German charts.

“I always had my niche”

She moves to Hamburg and is now an integral part of the German pop scene, makes a total of 20 studio albums, plays in a music film (“If Every Day Was a Sunday”), appears three times in the Eurovision Song Contest and wins in 1978 with “Feuer”. Germany a 6th place. She sings duets with Bernhard Brink (71), Cliff Richard (83) and Gilbert Bécaud (1927-2001, “He thought he had a chance with me, but no”).

Ireen Sheer is a constant guest on music and entertainment shows and has made numerous appearances on the “ZDF Hit Parade”, of which she particularly remembers the “Death Cell”, a bar where the stars always go with ZDF presenter Dieter Thomas Heck (1937-2018) Nordhäuser had to drink Korn, “even as a woman I wasn’t allowed to chicken out.”

She never saw herself as a superstar. “I always had my niche,” she says herself. Her area is the middle to upper class. “Megastars are a completely different league… But you have to survive for 50 years first, and I have that too.”

has its importance The “taz” described it this way in 2002: “Ireen Sheer has… earned a reputation as a brave pop singer. Scandals never paved her path. There is no one in the pop industry who says bad things about her. A second-tier performer who never made it to the Champions League because with songs like ‘Goodbye Mama’ or ‘And tonight I have a headache’ she has earned a reputation as a singer with a friendly, non-exciting appeal.”

A little scandal puts her on the front page

At some point she also experienced a scandal, or rather a little scandal: When her first marriage to the English singer and songwriter Gavin du Porter (74) broke up, even the nice Ireen Sheer was once on the “Bild” – Front page. Under the line “He’s lying – He’s cheating – He threw me out” the paper wrote: “Now she’s settling scores with her husband.” He swore “on our dog’s life” that he had never cheated on her. To which she replied on the ARD program “Beckmann” that in her 25 years of marriage to du Porter she had subordinated herself to his wishes and lost self-esteem, which she reiterated in her biography “Now or Never”.

In 2010 she married her German manager Klaus-Jürgen Kahl. She lives with him in an old apartment in Berlin-Wilmersdorf.

Ireen Sheer was rarely in the headlines in other ways: with health problems (spine, blood clot behind the eye) and with her outrage at her fellow Brits after they voted for Brexit. The staunch Brexit opponent applied for German citizenship in 2019 and was naturalized in 2020.

She particularly fondly remembers the 1970s: “We were like a big family in the industry.” Today she is still close friends with Roland Kaiser (71), Mary Roos (75) and Patrick Lindner (63).

She says goodbye to the stage

“The stage is like a fountain of youth for me. I’m actually reserved and normal, but on stage it goes ‘boom’ and then I have to give it my all,” This is how she put it for NDR. And yet she announced her retirement in 2021. The decision slowly matured; during the Corona pandemic she decided to end her show career and “finally” live a life away from performances. “We thought about how many good years we have left? We still want to do and experience so much, but we have to be fit for that.”

Her farewell album “Aufwiedersicht-Goodbye” will be released in 2022, and at the beginning of 2023 it will really be an end after over 60 years of shows with more than 7,000 performances. Her order to herself: “From now on we live!”: meeting friends, traveling, going on tour with a motorboat, Wannsee, Mecklenburg Lake District, Baltic Sea. Just as she sings in her last song “Farewell is like a new life”: “A whole, whole new dream is born.”


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