GDR Beat Revolution


Amiga Cocktail, 1964 Berlin Friedrichstadtpalast

 In the nineteen-sixties the GDR regime tried in vain to keep the East Germans away from western “beat” music. The Berlin Wall separated Germany, families, friends and lovers – but the so called “anti-fashist wall of protection” (“antifaschistischer Schutzwall”) couldn’t prevent that teenagers and young adults in the GDR listened to “decadent” popular music from the west. Many musicians in the GDR started playing rock music, or how it was called back then “beat” music.

In November 1964, when the Berlin Wall was just three years old, the show “Amiga Cocktail” took place at the “Friedrichstadtpalast” in Berlin. “Amiga” was a state owned record company. The show was broadcast live on television and radio. There were many young people in the audience.

Besides stars who appealed to an older audience, also “beat” bands from the GDR such as the Sputnicks, the Amigos and the Franke Echo Quintett were scheduled. When the Franke Echo Quintett performed, the crowd went wild. It wanted more of the instrumentals in the style of The Ventures, Duane Eddy and The Shadows. The audience wouldn’t let the Franke Echo Quintett go, it applauded frenetically.

The host, a small and portly guy, is visibly annoyed. He tries in vain to stop the cheering. The enthusiasm in the hall swells even more, and the scenery gets a revolutionary touch. Unerringly the host announces the singer Vanna Olivieri. She enters the stage smiling and as soon as she opens her mouth the audience starts booing. Without batting an eye she keeps on singing in front of the booing audience.

Note

This article is based on a partial broadcast of “Amiga Cocktail” as part of a nostalgia show on MDR television (Germany) in late summer 2008. The host of “Amiga Cocktail” probably was the actor Heinz Quermann. The Franke Echo Quintett is still performing under the name Echo Franke Berlin.

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