Klaus Lage is a German musician whose mixture of guitar-based pop/rock and singer/songwriter compositions in the liedermacher tradition became immensely popular in the 1980s. His biggest hit single, 1984's "1000 und 1 Nacht (Zoom!)" (1000 and 1 Night), is a staple of retro compilations and parties, but Lage has had more hits afterward, writing and performing songs for feature films and musicals, and even creating the official German versions of Randy Newman's Toy Story songs.
Lage was born on June 16, 1950, in Soltau. He is a learned commercial clerk. After he moved to Berlin in the early '70s, he became an educator, then a social worker. As the vocalist and guitarist of the Berliner Rock Ensemble (BRE), he toured Germany in the mid-'70s, together with bandmembers Gregor Schaetz (guitar, vocals), Alex Cremer (bass, vocals), Martin Cremer (drums, percussion), and Ralph Billmann (keyboards).
With an early single release in 1978 ("Alle Ham's Geschafft Außer Mir" -- Everybody Made It But Me) and a self-titled album in 1980, Lage tried to establish himself as a solo artist. Klaus Lage (sometimes also referred to under the title Musikmaschine) featured several humorous pop/rock songs, a few more serious tracks, and four international songs which Lage translated into German -- among them a literal translation of the Beatles' "I'm the Walrus" and a deliberately silly version of Squeeze's "Cool for Cats." Though still an uneven effort, Klaus Lage was a promising debut that was an interesting precursor to his later work.
Lage's next two albums, Positiv (1982) and Stadtstreicher (1983), solidified his popularity and showcased his more assured songwriting skills with numerous melodic pop/rock tracks that were alternately witty, serious, funny, and knowing. The single "Komm Halt Mich Fest" (1982) (Come and Hold Me) marked his first notable hit.
At the age of 34, Lage finally broke through and stormed the charts with his fourth solo album, the Wolf Maahn-produced Schweissperlen (1984). It continued Lage's penchant for storytelling and produced three hit singles: "1000 und 1 Nacht (Zoom!)," the story of a long friendship that suddenly turned into a relationship, which became one of Germany's biggest pop singles of the '80s, followed by the single "Wieder Zuhaus" (Back Home) and the socially minded "Monopoli."
In 1985, Lage released a new album, Heisse Spuren, and even though it wasn't as successful as its predecessor, it contained the hit single "Faust auf Faust," which Lage wrote for the theatrical feature Schimanski, a spin-off of the popular German TV series Tatort starring Götz George. Lage wrote another song for its sequel, Zabou, which was sung by Joe Cocker ("Now That You're Gone"), and even played a small part in the film.
After his 1986 live album Mit Meinen Augen, Lage continued to record new music throughout the rest of the decade and in the first half of the '90s, but even though several singles were released to varying success, none of the albums caught on the way his 1984 smash hit Schweissperlen had. The albums released during this time are Amtlich (1987), Rauhe Bilder (1989), Lieben & Lügen (1991), Ein Lachen in Reserve (1992), and Katz & Maus (1994). A duet single from the latter album, "Weil Du Anders Bist," sung with Irene Grandi, entered the charts. 1990 also saw the release of a compilation containing Lage's single hits.
In 1995, Lage was hired to create the German versions of Randy Newman's songs for the movie Toy Story. A year later, he played the lead role in the musical Stars, written by Dieter Dehm, who had already co-written several of Lage's hit songs. The musical was shown from early to mid-1996 and proved to be successful during its entire run.
In recent years, Lage has continued to write and record music and tour, moving in a more acoustic direction as opposed to the rock-based approach of his earlier years. In 1999, he released a live album recorded with collaborator Bo Heart, Live zu Zweit. 2000 saw the release of a new studio album, Mensch Bleiben, produced by Lage and his guitarist Peter Wölpls, who also worked on its follow-up, 2003's Die Welt Ist Schön! In 2007, Lage released Zug um Zug and toured with Heart, presenting his new songs as well as older songs in unusual arrangements -- among them an a cappella version of "1000 and 1 Nacht (Zoom!)" ~ Christian Genzel