Elbphilharmonie Talk with Achim Reichel

A Hamburg legend: Achim Reichel discusses his unique career and his love of ballads.

He is often called the »founding father of German rock«: over a career spanning 60 years, Achim Reichel has never sought to keep up with fashions, preferring instead to follow his feeling and his many passions. In the 1960s he enjoyed success as the front man of The Rattles, touring with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. In the 1970s he was a pioneer of krautrock and released shanties and seafaring songs – and in 1978 he set ballads to music, including classic poems such as Theodor Fontane’s »Squire von Ribbeck at Ribbeck in Havelland« and Goethe’s »The Sorcerer’s Apprentice«. »Of course, there were some who asked: ›Oh god, what’s this now?‹ or ›Is it right to treat our great poets in this way?‹ But I didn’t care«, says Reichel. »I was inspired by a desire to innovate. And if you have a passion for something, you have no choice but to make it reality.«
That passion for literature and classic ballads remained undimmed over the years, and led in 2002 to another album (»Wilder Wassermann«), for which he set poems to music in a folk-rock style. As part of the »Harbour Front Sounds« Festival, Reichel now performs some of the ballads in the Laeiszhalle Grand Hall and plays the acoustic guitar. He is accompanied on stage by the actor Peter Lohmeyer, who will be reading out other ballads. In conversation with Tom R. Schulz, Reichel explains what it is about ballads that fascinates him so much – and looks back at his »zig-zag course« through music history.

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