His songs are catchy, some of which you can never get rid of. The Hamburg-based singer-songwriter is one of the most commercially successful artists in Germany with over 20 million records sold. He started on vinyl and now has his own Tik-Tok channel with nearly 90,000 fans. The Hamburg singer-songwriter, who will turn 75 on May 12, has long since retired from the stage.
Hamburg-based singer-songwriter Rolf Zukowski writes about his life
In his autobiography, he talks about his work with and for families, children and adults, and what drives him to this day. “As a songwriter, you always need the luck to meet people, learn ideas, pick up things that you can compose a song from. Then you have to have the courage to stick with it. In that sense, a bit of a life mantra or a life experience from me,” Zukowski says.
Musical debut at Albrecht-Thaer-Gymnasium Hamburg
It’s a musical life that began in 1947 in Hamburg Winterhood. Things are already going for Rolf Zukowski with the Beathovens, his school band at the Albrecht-Thaer-Gymnasium. As a result, he celebrates his first hits and also gets to know his wife Monica. As a young dad, he came up with the idea to compose contemporary children’s music – thanks to his daughter.
“The heart still beats when the children sing my songs”
At the age of 14, Zhukovsky received his first guitar from his father. At least his school band, The Beathovens, made it to the Opening Ceremony for the Beach Boys. But after the birth of his children and his first hit “Du da, im Radio”, Zhukovsky’s passion for music became a career.
Whole generations now know the songs of “Rolf and His Friends”. He admits, “I still get palpitations when I hear the kids sing my songs.” Zukowski’s greatest hits include “In der Weihnachtsbäckerei”, “…und quite a Mitch doll” which was adapted from Volker Lichtenbrink’s song – and above all the song “Die Vogelhochzeit”, played in children’s rooms from cassette recorders for decades and the sounds of disc players compressed .
Work with many pop stars, multiple prizes
But the entire work of Zhukovsky includes much more: about 700 songs. He is a singer, lyricist, composer and producer. Zhukovsky works with such famous stars as Nana Mouskouri, Paula, Demis Roussos and Julian Werding. He designed the concept album “Tabaluga” for Peter Maffei and wrote the title “Nessaja” (I Didn’t Want to Grow Up) for him. Zuckowski directs radio programs and has already won several awards for his life’s work – including “Echo” in 2008.
Above all, however, his life’s work is shaped by the children, with whom he prefers to make music: “It gave me so many opportunities to see the world in a new way and I could laugh with the children.” You can be a little enchanted, so is the singer. “Music is the best way to keep a child alive. That’s why I really want to stay a singer.”
“In the past, a lot of me were played on the radio”
Zhukovsky always said goodbye to touring, preferring to travel alone with guitar or ukulele as a “welcome singer” to shows. On the tour that celebrated “40 Years of Rolf’s Music,” his songs were primarily sung by others – whether kindergarten groups or adult choirs. “There were years when I did a lot to make my songs known,” he told dpa. “I used to play a lot on the radio, and today that’s not the case. But when the music carries itself around, you can think of other things.”
“Together on the Road” is the name of his 2020 album with the music “Menschen im Herbst des Lebens”. However, on social media, one of Zhukovsky’s most popular songs is the song “I Can Do It!” A song that gives hope garnered nearly half a million views.