Having performed some of the best Schlager of the 1960s, Danish singer Dorthe – also known as Dorthe Kollo – is still a popular choice on German television and radio, where she remains best known for Sind Sie der Graf von Luxemburg?
Dorthe Larsen was born on 17 July 1947 in the Danish capital of Copenhagen.
She recorded her first single at the age of 12 and was well known in her homeland before trying her luck in neighbouring Germany.
She failed on her first attempt, with Eine Menge Verehrer, which she sang at the 1963 Deutsche Schlagerfestspielen in Baden-Baden, but which failed to make the final. The B-side, Deiner Nase seh’ ich es an, was a respectable version of Johnny Crawford's US hit Your nose is gonna grow.
The following year, Junger Mann mit rotten Rosen earned the 17 year old fifth place in the Schlager-Festspiele and her first German top 20 hit.
Her brand of unrelentingly cheery music continued with songs such as 1965’s Dip-di-dip (du passt gut zu mir) – a take on an obscure US release by Angela Martin, Dip-da-dip (I want to be his girl) – which remains one of her most enduring, despite having been issued as a B-side only.
Blondes Haar am Paletot, an aural doppelgänger for Connie Francis’ Lipstick on your collar and another Schlager-Festspiele entry, also proved popular.
Dorthe made only a few attempts at a beat sound. The 1966 single Heut hab’ ich mein Herz verloren should have been flipped to make the thumping B-side, Sowas kann man nicht vergessen (Deine Küsse beim Goodbye), the lead track. Sadly, this was a common phenomenon, with record label bosses wary of rocking – no pun intended – the boat.
Similarly, its follow up, Glück und Glas, found few takers, while the flip, the terrific Darauf fall’ ich nicht rein (Come on my boy), continues to delight fans.
The following year she released one of her best singles, Frag jedes Mädchen, a cover of one of Sandie Shaw’s A song for Europe entries, Ask any woman.
But then the singer, by now married to opera singer René Kollo, returned to more familiar territory with Sind Sie der Graf von Luxemburg? The song, her biggest hit in Germany, told the trite tale of a girl prancing round the low countries asking complete strangers if they were, by chance, the count from the famous operetta.
It spent four months in the German top ten, peaking at number five, and is considered a Schlager classic today. Its success also prompted the release of an LP of the same name and dictated the future direction the singer’s releases would take.
The follow up, Wärst du doch in Düsseldorf geblieben, was a song she performed at the renamed Schlager-Wettbewerb song contest in 1968, finishing second behind Sweden’s Siw Malmkvist and ahead of French yéyé girl France Gall and Germany’s Renate Kern. The song also made the German top ten. (Rather gracefully, Siw Malmkvist has since maintained that Dorthe’s was the stronger song and deserved to win.)
Dorthe enjoyed two further hits in the 1960s, with Jeder Schotte (which came complete with bagpipe sound effects) and Seine Hoheit der Herr Kronprinz. Both continued the Schlager vein.
Dorthe carried on singing and performing in subsequent decades, particularly in her homeland, Denmark.