Birth name Johann (Hans) Hölzel
Born 19 February 1957(1957-02-19)
Died 6 February 1998 (aged 40)
Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
Genre(s) New Wave
Avant-pop (early 90s)
Technopop (mostly later work)
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter
Bass guitar,electric guitar, acoustic guitar
Years active 1974 - 1998
Label(s) A&M Records (North America)
Johann (Hans) Hölzel (19 February 1957 – 6 February 1998), better known by his stage name Falco, was an Austrian rap, pop and rock musician and had four #1 Hits - "Der Kommissar," "Rock Me Amadeus," "Jeanny," and "Coming Home (Jeanny Part 2)." He is the first and so far only artist to score a #1 Hit in the U.S. with a German language song.
His albums and singles have sold about 60 million copies worldwide.
Born in Vienna,Austria studying at the Vienna Music Conservatory in 1977 which he left after one semester to pursue a career in music, he lived for a short time in West Berlin while singing in a jazz-rock band. When he returned to Vienna he was calling himself "Falco," reportedly in tribute to the East German ski jumper Falko Weißpflog, and playing in the Austrian bands Spinning Wheel and Hallucination Company. En route to becoming an international rock star in his own right, he was bass player in the Austrian hard rock-punk rock band Drahdiwaberl (from 1978 until 1983). With Drahdiwaberl he wrote and performed the song "Ganz Wien," which he would also include on his debut solo album, Einzelhaft.
Falco's first hit was "Der Kommissar," from the 1982 album Einzelhaft. A German language song about drug consumption that combines rap verses with a sung chorus, Falco's record was a number-one success in many countries but failed to break big in the U.S. The song, however, would prove to have a life of its own in two English-language versions. British Rock band After the Fire recorded an English cover version, loosely based on Falco's lyrics and also called "Der Kommissar" (with "uh-oh" and "alles klar Herr Kommissar" the only other lyrics held over from the original). This time, the song shot to number three in the United States (their only major hit there) in 1983, though it failed to crack the UK Top 40. The band—who had been together more than a decade—broke up almost immediately thereafter. That same year, American singer Laura Branigan recorded a version of the song with new English lyrics, under the title "Deep In The Dark," on her album Branigan 2.
After a second album, Junge Roemer, failed to provide a repeat to his debut single's success (outside of Austria and Germany, where the album topped the charts), Falco began to experiment with English lyrics in an effort to broaden his appeal, and chose a new production team. The result would be the most popular album and single of his career.
Falco recorded "Rock Me Amadeus" inspired in part by the Oscar-winning film Amadeus, and the song became a worldwide hit in 1986. This time, his record reached #1 in the U.S. and UK, bringing him the success that had eluded him in that major market a few years earlier. The song remained in the top spot of the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks and his album, Falco 3, fittingly peaked at the number three position on the Billboard album charts. Unheard of at the time for a white performer, much less a European one, the Austrian rapper's single climbed to the upper reaches of the Billboard Top R&B Singles Chart (only a few years earlier called the "Black Singles" chart), peaking at number 6. Falco 3 peaked at number 18 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts. Ultimately, "Rock Me Amadeus" went to the #1 spot in over a dozen countries including the Soviet Union and Japan. Follow-up single "Vienna Calling" was another international pop hit, peaking at #18 of the Billboard Charts and #17 on the U.S. Cash Box Charts in 1986. A double A-side 12" single featuring remixes of those two hits peaked at #4 on the U.S. Dance/Disco charts.
"Jeanny," the third release from the album Falco 3, brought the performer back to the top of the charts across Europe. Highly controversial when it was released in Germany and the Netherlands, the story of "Jeanny" was told from the point of view of a rapist and possible murderer. Several DJs and radio stations refused to play the ballad, which was ignored in the U.S., although it became a huge hit in many European countries, and inspired two sequels on later albums.
In 1986, the album Emotional was released, produced by Rob and Ferdi Bolland (Bolland & Bolland). On the Album were "Coming Home (Jeanny Part 2)," and songs about Kathleen Turner and the song "Kamikaze Cappa" which was written as a tribute to the late photojournalist Robert Capa. "The Sound of Musik" was another international success, and a Top 20 U.S. Dance hit, though he failed to make the U.S. pop charts. He also went on "Emotional-Tour" which was a world tour where he ended up in Japan at 1987. In 1987, he sang a duet with Brigitte Nielsen "Body Next to Body" and the single was a Top 10 hit in the Germanic countries. The Album Wiener Blut was released in 1988 but it did not get much publicity outside Germany and Austria.
In 1990, he made a song for Cindy Crawford and Tatjana Patitz, "Tanja P. not Cindy C.," which appeared on the Album Data de Groove.
After "Jeanny," there were a number of European hits, but Falco was rarely heard in the U.S. and the UK. His 1992 U.S. comeback attempt, the album Nachtflug with the song "Titanic," won a number of awards, but failed to chart in America.
Falco's grave at Vienna Zentralfriedhof
Falco died of severe injuries received from a collision with a bus in his Mitsubishi Pajero near the city of Puerto Plata, in the Dominican Republic on 6 February 1998, just two weeks before his 41st birthday. While it was initially reported that the autopsy showed high blood levels of alcohol and cocaine, this was disputed. At the time of his death, he was working on a comeback into the music world.
He was buried in the Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery) in Vienna, Austria.