Obituary for the pop journalist Hans Keller – culture

Late one night in October 1979, Hans Keller and I stepped out of the Hamburg punk bar “Marktstube” and cooled our skulls, overheated by music, dance and debate. Until late in the evening he worked as a graphic designer and I as an editor on the new edition of the sounds worked. The cassette with the fantastic Special offers-Debut LP had been up and down again. Hans got them from the record company, the English one, of course, the German one didn’t even know about this release.

At 35, Hans was a bit older, but all the more devoted supporter of von den Special offers and the other two-tone bands sparked ska revivals rude boy before anyone else in Germany was – except maybe Jäckie Eldorado, with whom he had already been neck and neck in the fight for the title a few years earlier.

Hans lived in a loft in Tribeca that was actually owned by Iggy Pop and discovered something new every day

Someone had music from them tonight too Merton parkas and the Lambrettas brought along, bands that were based on the outfits and means of transport of the sixties mods. In his slow but sharply set Swiss accent, Hans started an autobiographical reflection on Faustian proportions: I’ve been a teddy boy, rocker, mod, hippie, psychedelic, punk and much more – should I now also embrace the mod revival connect?

Shortly thereafter, the small, energetic mustachioed man with the laconic sense of humor moved to New York. In November 1981 appeared in sounds his cover story on hip-hop, the completely unknown Grandmaster Flash was on the cover. It was the first longer text about the new musical and cultural phenomenon in a European publication, the first and for a long time only interviews with the most important figures of the movement, which at that time had largely grown without publications.

Music Explorer: Sounds November 1981 issue in which Hans Keller wrote the first lengthy text in a European publication about the new musical and cultural phenomenon rap.

Hans lived in a loft in Tribeca that was actually owned by Iggy Pop and discovered something new every day: hipster salsa by Coati Mundi, the new female bands like Y Pants, Pulsallama and bush tetras. He went to the clubs with August Darnell aka Kid Creole and played the violin in an underground band that performed at the A7, in Hamburg he still had that wrong way driver (with Michael Ruff, Matthias Schuster and Holger Hiller). In New York he took his violin case with him at night to slip past the bouncers with a trendy German accent, which he gleefully exaggerated: “Vee Are Pfrom The German Band Eisenstein”. We were immediately allowed into this after-hours bar, where David Bowie and Nile Rogers were also hanging out.

He was born on February 24, 1945 in Männedorf near Zurich. Like so many Swiss, he became a graphic artist and came to Hamburg as a very romantic, long-bearded and long-haired version, the press city that had always depended on these style migrants from the south. Soon he came to sounds – where we met in 1979 – sacrificed the hair to new identities and became the first German-speaking punk journalist.

He kept lush visual diaries, was a comic expert and artist, and later published the trade journal fatigue but loved all arts and, in addition to his talent for discovery and his enthusiasm for self-invention, had a pronounced urge to go south, first to Italy and later to South America. Also for Spex he later reported again and again about the completely new and the very deep: House, Italodisco, Merengue. In a jubilee issue he published a fast-paced biographical sketch, which we gave the title “Memoirs of a long-running hit”. I can hardly believe that Hans Keller died in Zurich on January 8th. He was 76 years old.

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