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Klaus Nomi

You don’t Nomi?
Born in 1944 in Immenstadt, but brought up in what used to be West Berlin, Klaus Sperber loved opera and rock music. He emigrated to New York in 1972, where he would ultimately find his artistic expression on local cabaret stages. His look and voice reflected the middle of the New Wave scene with Andy Warhol post-Factory vibes. Among other venues, he played at Max’s Kansas City, surrounded by his friends from the underground scene. His world, flooded with 1950s science fiction, his black-and-white angular appearance and his extraordinary voice got him a string of performances. But it was meeting David Bowie that detonated his career, and Klaus refined his persona before leaving for a US tour.

French star
In a 1980s world where record contracts were still the Holy Grail, for many the stage was a last resort. You toured to promote an album. So, Klaus signed with a prospective indie producer (Spindizzy Music). And it was the artistic directors at RCA in France, recognising they were on to a good thing, who saved the day. “Klaus Nomi” was released in September 1981.
Klaus spent time in France for the promo, and to say things went well would be an understatement. The world of Paris fashion rushed to Le Palace to see this unusual character perform. Even the classical scene, usually so quick to burn anyone who drifts from the norm at the stake, had no objections and even approved: this first album was a huge hit with 300,000 albums sold, which meant going Platinum at the time. To the total amazement of the label’s bigwigs, the tracks with a more “classical” feel, like The Cold Song (based on an aria from King Arthur, a 1611 opera by Henri Purcell), were what drew French audiences in the most.

A simple man
The second album “Simple Man” was released in November 1982 in a much more positive
environment, especially in the US and German markets, which had been affected by the French success of the first album. The prodigal son returns: Klaus went back to his home country, where finally his talent was recognised. Boosted by his singles Simple Man and Falling In Love Again, the album achieved international success.

Marks on his body
In 1982, a new disease hit the headlines, and Klaus began to notice marks on his body: his diagnosis was final. Without access to any form of treatment, the outcome was inevitable. While everyone thought 1982 would be a year of beginnings, in reality the end was near.
Klaus Nomi passed away in New York on 6 August 1983, exhausted. He gave his work every last ounce of his strength.

Klaus Nomi’s influence still lives on today, undoubtedly more scattered than in the dazzling late 1980s, but still recognisable in certain works by JP Gaultier, Givenchy and some of Lady Gaga’s costumes... Just look at one of the main characters from American Horror Story Season 11, and you will be reminded of someone. Scour the world of advertising, and you will notice just how much his music has been synchronised across countless countries for so many campaigns.
Klaus Nomi captivated audiences in the early 1980s. And, 40 years later, his aura and his voice continue to mesmerise us. With his discography uploaded online, proposed re-releases, restored videos and a remix album planned for September 2023, there will be plenty of opportunities to discover this artist, unmatched in pop worldwide for the past 40 years.


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