Blessed with a strong, dramatic voice and an Audrey Hepburn-like exterior, singer Heidi Franke had the tools to make it big in 1960s German pop. However, her career stalled when a mildly political Schlager tune was banned from the radio.
Heidi, who was born in 1945, signed to the Polydor label in 1966.
Her first release was a capable cover version of the Walker Brothers’ hit The sun ain't gonna shine anymore, Die Sonne scheint nicht mehr ohne dich. Her finely tuned, double-voiced version sounds promising, but, like all of her five known 45s, it sank without making any impact on the charts or the record-buying public.
1967 saw her sophomore effort, another cover version. This time an Edith Piaf-style French chanson, Et si c’était vrai by Georgette Lemaire, was translated into Das alles wird wahr. Maybe this single would have fared better if the radio-friendly B-side, Gesucht und gefunden, had been on the A-side.
Her next single was the decisively more poppy and upbeat Red’ nicht mit dem Mond. Like all her
A-sides before, the song was again based on a foreign track – the original of this one comes from little-known British psyche band Tuesday’s Children and is called Ain’t you got no heart. The mid-tempo ballad Es tut mir immer noch weh on the B-side is also one of her finer moments.
In 1968 Polydor released what would be her last single for the label, Die Blumen sind für Sie, Herr Polizist, backed by Neon Regenbogen, a German version of the Box Tops’ Neon rainbow. Flower power and hippie culture were the flavour of the day and even swept into the conservative world of German Schlager. Polydor’s number one girl, Norwegian singing sensation Wencke Myhre, was riding high in the charts with her Flower Power Kleid, which might have been the inspiration to try a similar stunt with Heidi.
However, this time it backfired.
The lyrics of the song – in which Heidi offers flowers to a policeman – are harmless by today’s standards and a far cry from a protest song. In fact the cartoon cover and happy-go-lucky melody clearly suggest that this was more of a comedy/novelty tune instead of social commentary. But German radio still objected to lines such as “Who catches gangsters when they’re dead? Who avoids dark back streets? Who salutes celebrities? Who sprays water on students?” and banned the song from the airwaves. The ban was even mentioned in Germany’s political news magazine Der Spiegel – probably not kind of publicity Polydor was hoping for.
There is no evidence that this affair was instrumental in the label’s decision to drop Heidi or if it was simply due to the lack of sales, but she and the label parted ways shortly afterwards.
Heidi re-appeared in 1969 for one final single on CBS. Carefully avoiding any controversy, the A-side was an innocent Schlager ditty, Morgen scheint die Sonne wieder, while the B-side, Wo die Pußta zu Ende geht, was an obvious Alexandra pastiche, which displayed Germany’s then current soft spot for folk songs that romanticised the Austro-Hungarian empire. But disappointing sales meant that this remained her only CBS release, effectively ending her recording career.
With thanks to Jens Keller for contributing this biography.
Our pick of the pops
Die Sonne scheint nicht mehr ohne dich
Die Blumen sind für Sie, Herr Polizist
Gesucht und gefunden
Est tut mir immer noch weh
Er weiss noch nicht, daß ich ihn liebe
Wo die Pußta zu Ende geht
Pop in Germany 2
Buy online now
Hippies, Hasch und Flower Power
Find Heidi Franke 45s at GEMM