The longing that burns like fire
Roland Kaiser, the most successful old school star, is 70 years old. But the most exciting parties don’t happen until summer – and of course in Dresden.
By Andy Dahlmann and Christian Schroeder
Apologies can hurt. Sometimes the listener too. In 1998, Roland Kaiser turned the popular mea culpa song “It’s Hard for Me to Say I’m Sorry” by American rock band Chicago into a powerful self-accusation. “It is not easy to say, forgive me,” is an intransitive. Accompanied by a spinite-like mineral, he says, “Everyone needs a little time for himself/to be free, to dream.” Kaiser sings in long bows, evoking regret with my vibrato: “Freedom has never set me free / It has become night in my soul.” In the end, an electric guitar howl.
Kaiser’s texts are about the wrong turns of love, desire, and cheating, and one magazine called him a “soft pornographer.” The “erotic component” has always played a role, as he himself says, self-irony is one of the singer’s strengths. “It would be awful if everyone heard my blows,” he said in an interview.
He had a huge hit in 1977 with “Seven Casks of Wine”, which tells the story of a bachelor party and was dedicated to Rex Gildo. The drinking song is embarrassing to him today he deleted it from his party playlist. At the request of the producer, he had to rewrite his song “Santa Maria”, which was supposed to be about the pioneer of Columbus. The new lines caught fire: “Santa Maria – an island born of dreams / I lost my senses / In a fever that burns like fire.”
Roland Kaiser, who was once called Ronald Keeler, released his autobiography “Sunny Side”. There were also many shadows in his life, which began on May 10, 1952 in West Berlin. His mother dropped him in a basket outside the church, and he was raised by an adoptive mother who died when he was 15. He can only celebrate his 70th birthday because a lung transplant saved his life in 2010.
Perhaps this coincidence made him feel free. Kaiser, who was said to have sat on Willie Brandt’s lap as a child, recently became a political actor. At an anti-Pegida rally in Dresden, he said, “Let’s counter the fear of the unknown with curiosity.”
It would certainly be a good idea for the SPD to contest the next municipal elections with Kaiser, who has been a member of the party since 2002. The probability of victory would double. After all, Kaiser in Dresden not only emerges as a committed democrat, but builds bridges between the most diverse classes and circles. When he sings, they all come together.
From his first concert at Filmnächt am Elbufer, an unrestrained sect arose around him, which immediately became an example of unlimited growth under the title “Kaisermania”.
In 2015, for example, he was the first artist to perform four shows in one season of Movie Nights, and also set a visitor record with more than 50,000 tickets sold. It’s going to be even crazier this summer: Kaiser and his band perform six shows on the banks of the Elbe River. Of course, tickets for this have long been sold out.
Clearly, there is now no successful old-school German superstar filling larger arenas. The Hotel Berlin Waldbuhne, where Kaiser saw the Rolling Stones when he was 13, is sold, as is the Dresden bank in the Elbe. When played live, his songs get a lot of oomph at the disco. The Emperor always appears in a suit and tie, even in a tie-dyed tuxedo. Not only when he performs with the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra at Kulturplast, as he did in 2017. The artist is still standing.