Who was/is Wolle Kriwanek ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more

Wolle Kriwanek

"He was a musician, singer and lyricist, and a good one, I think." (Benjamin Kriwanek)

The musician, born 1949 in Stuttgart as Wolfgang Kriwanek, got his nickname 'Wolle' because of his full beard and his curly mane in Afro-look. He learned his first guitar chords from the scouts. A television broadcast of Mahalia Jackson's first German concert brought him to gospel, jazz, beat and blues. "That was so terrific. I totally freaked out. It was as if I had been waiting for it all this time." He bought records of the gospel singer, discovered Louis Armstrong and joined the beat band Muli and his Misfits with 15. The fact that English and Swabian words sometimes sound the same and have the same meaning led to the first Swabian rock songs and blues numbers in the mid 60s. When Kriwanek sang his Bad'wanna Blues, written three years earlier, on what was then Süddeutscher Rundfunk in 1970, he failed. Quote from an editor: "If blues, then English, if Swabian, then brass music." Five years later he won a first prize as a songwriter at the same station with the same song.

Benjamin Kriwanek sees the origins of the Bad'wanna Blues in his father's childhood memories of the German or in this case Swabian post-war period. "Water was expensive and scarce at the time. So it came about that Saturday was generally used for the family's washing and bathing day. First the father, then the mother, then the children and finally the dog and the potatoes were washed with only one washing tub. Since Swabian thrift was written in capital letters in every household, the floor and the staircase were even wiped wet with the same broth at the very end! That was the final point, so to speak. To commemorate this event, 'Nem I mei Bad am Samschtag Obend'. The Bad'wanna Blues was born."

Despite his success with dialect songs like the Bad'wanna Blues, Stroßaboh (the story of a musical hunt after the last tram of line 5, which leaves that evening without the singer) or UFO, in which a wanderer is visited by a flying saucer, he never really wanted to be portrayed in the media as the Swabian "Bänkelsänger", says his son Benjamin Kriwanek. "I know very few people who were as well versed in speech and education as my father. I'm not just gonna say that as a son."

Kriwanek possessed a subtle wit, and his deep insights into the world of ordinary people let him write entertaining as well as critical milieu studies, such as I ben for di blos der Neger, or simply loveable pieces like Weil i mog di (ond i glaub du mogsch au mi). Some songs ironically describe the dreams of petty bourgeois, such as those of the office worker who, in the monumental epic Babylon, fantasizes - accompanied by trumpeting war elephants - of a life as a pharaoh with unlimited wealth and power, that is, of "women, a money, soldiers, a property ond a house". In Easy Rider, the bank employee miscounts while dreaming of a Harley-Davidson, while the arrogant driver of a Mercedes 500SE in I fahr Daimler (the PS waltz) turns out to be a uniformed chauffeur.

In 1986, after having been on leave for six years for music, the studied pedagogue returned to the teaching profession and became a special school teacher in Winnenden (Rems-Murr-Kreis). Besides, he continued to make music with the Wolle Kriwanek Band, besides his Swabian songs also two albums with High German lyrics. In 1996 Wolle Kriwanek became chairman of the Rockstiftung Baden-Württemberg, which in 2003 became the Popakademie Baden-Württemberg in Mannheim, Germany's first university where artists and music managers can complete a well-founded course of study.

When Wolle Kriwanek died of the consequences of a burst artery at Easter 2003, Baden-Württemberg's Prime Minister Erwin Teufel (CDU) praised him as a sympathetic ambassador of the Swabians: "With Wolle Kriwanek, the state is losing an outstanding artist and musician, a committed educator and a wonderful person.


Extract from
Various - songwriter in Germany
Vol.3, For whom we sing (3-CD)

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