Hungarian-born singer Edina Pop had several stabs at a pop career in Germany. Marketed initially as Maria Marky in 1966, then relaunched at the end of the decade as Edina Pop, her success proved limited. It wasn’t until the late 1970s that she enjoyed chart-topping star status with disco combo Dschinghis Khan.
Edina Pop was born Marika Késmárky in Budapest, Hungary. Thanks to record companies’ creative approach to their signing’s ages, there is some debate about her date of birth. However, 4 February 1941 is generally accepted as the most likely.
She showed an interest in music from an early age, taking piano lessons from the age of six and, later, singing classes too.
She began singing professionally in 1964, appearing with the Dixieland Express band in various venues in the Hungarian capital. A national tour led to an invitation for the young singer to appear in Belgium. There, she was spotted by producer-cum-composer Heino Gaze, who arranged for her to audtion for the Electrola subsidiary of the German EMI label. She was swiftly signed up under the moniker Maria Marky, a shortened form of her real name.
The highly catchy Leere Hände (und nun sind wir am Ende) became her first 45 for the label. However, despite some interest, the single failed to chart upon its release in 1966.
Two further singles followed that year, Wer kann mich schon verstehn and the disappointing, waltz-like Frühling in Luxemburg. However, neither sold well and the singer’s contract was not renewed. (Both 45s are more popular among fans for their B-sides, Was wird nun and Träume sind nicht immer himmelblau respectively.)
She remained out of the limelight until 1969, when she resurfaced, triumphing at a Hungarian song contest with Nem leszek a bohócod under her full name.
Her win caught the attention of bosses at the Philips label in Germany. They had been looking for a singer to ride the eastern European wave created by their own Alexandra.
With a new stage name, Edina Pop – the name by which she has remained known – the singer was signed to a five-year contract.
The choice of Russian-themed Petruschka as Edina’s debut single was perhaps inevitable. However, the song fared poorly upon release in 1969.
Surprisingly quickly, Philips dropped the Russian flavour of Edina’s recordings. Her follow up single, Stop Amico, had been penned by Henry Mayer and Frank Weyrich – two successful songwriters who, frankly, should have known better.
A third single, the topical Mein Apollo ist kein Raumschiff, proved equally second rate, leaving label bosses afraid that they had plucked a pop turkey.
Desperate measures were called for when it came to finding a song for Edina’s final 45 of 1969. Spanish singer Salomé had tied for first place with Britain’s Lulu and two others at that year’s Eurovision song contest, and her winning entry, Vivo cantando, was duly translated as Zwischen Wolga und Don for Edina. However, sales of her cover version proved slow.
Even an attempt to raise the singer’s profile at Germany’s national final to select an entry for the 1970 Eurovision song contest fell flat. Ill health kept Edina out of the contest and it was left to Mary Roos to fill her shoes at the last minute. This she did admirably, finishing second with Bei jedem Kuss, losing out to Katja Ebstein.
Disappointed, Edina looked to the pan-European contest to revive her flagging career all the same. The decision to cover British singer Mary Hopkin’s 1970 Eurovision entry, Knock, knock, who’s there, proved more inspired. Mary had already enjoyed a number 12 hit in Germany with her original, and Edina’s cover, Komm, komm zu mir rode on her coat tails. The song – finally – took her into the German charts, reaching number 35 in June that year.
The cheery Tomatenrote Lippen followed it, and also succeeded in making the top 40.
Edina’s new-found success prompted Philips to issue a somewhat hastily compiled LP, Halt die Liebe fest. Titled after another 1970 single, the album brought together a number of the singer’s earlier
A- and B-sides. One of the few new recordings that featured on it proved one of its most enduring: Die Party steigt am nächsten Samstag, a cover of The Peppermint Rainbow’s Will you be staying after Sunday.
In 1971, Edina married actor Günther Stoll. (The marriage would last six years, until Stoll’s sudden death in 1977.)
Further singles followed without success, so Edina entered Germany’s contest to select a Eurovision entry for 1972. However, her Meine Liebe will ich dir geben finished a disappointing seventh – way behind Mary Roos’s winning song, Nur die Liebe läßt uns leben.
The mid-1970s proved a quiet period for Edina professionally. After the death of her husband, she found herself particularly at a loose end.
A call from the so-called Mr Eurovision, Ralph Siegel, proved timely. He was putting together a group to represent Germany at the 1979 contest. Edina jumped at the chance to be part of it. The group, Dschinghis Khan, shot to fame with their eponymous Eurovision entry, a somewhat dubious tribute to Mongolia’s genocidal leader, which they performed at the final – in Jerusalem, of all places. Despite the entry’s questionable taste, it finished fourth at the contest and topped the German charts.
Widely dismissed as a novelty act, the group nevertheless enjoyed further top-ten successes with Moskau, Hadschi Halef Omar, Loreley and Wir sitzen alle im selben Boot.
After the group called it a day, Edina went solo again. She continues to perform to this day.