Marion – later known as Marion Maerz – was one of Germany’s hippest stars and a Paul McCartney favourite. However, her time at the top was all too brief, and she is best remembered for her 1965 gem Er ist wieder da.
She was born Marion Litterscheid in Flensburg, near Germany’s border with Denmark, on 17 August 1943. After leaving school, she took a secretarial course.
Her chance at a singing career came in 1964, when she was invited to take part in a talent contest organised by Pepsi Cola, after being spotted at an exhibition in Hanover. She had been demonstrating how a cassette manufacturer’s products worked by singing every 15 minutes.
Although she came second in the Pepsi contest, having performed four different songs against an orchestral backing, record company Polydor offered her a recording contract. But after two unsuccessful singles, Liebe auf den ersten Blick and a cover of British star Twinkle’s ‘death disc’ Terry, she found herself without a contract.
However, during a chance meeting with composer Christian Bruhn and lyricist Günter Loose at the studios of record company Hansa she was offered Er ist wieder da, a haunting tune that suited her plaintive vocals perfectly.
The song was unusually downbeat for the kind of material performed by German singers of the time, but it struck a chord with record-buying teenagers and became a huge hit for the by now surname-free Marion in the winter of 1965-66, spending ten weeks in the top ten.
Marion also recorded the song in English, as He’s back again, though it didn't gain a release. However, American singer Peggy March issued a version in the States, but it failed to chart. She also cut a Spanish version, Él ya regresó, which was issued in 1967 on the first of a couple of EPs released through Spain’s Belter label.
Marion was the height of cool. She was the first German female to sing on Radio Bremen’s Beatclub and even Paul McCartney commented on how much he liked her material, particularly Blau, blau, blau, the B-side of Er ist wieder da.
However, her success was all too short-lived. The follow up, the equally mournful Wie soll es weitergehn, a song the singer didn’t care much for, scraped into the top 30.
Taking part in the Deutsche Schlager-Festspiele contest in June 1966 with the excellent Mach nicht die Tür zu should have turned her fortunes around. However, the song wasn’t frothy enough to win over the juries and failed to win a place in the final. (Norwegian doll Wencke Myhre went on to win the contest.)
At the end of the year she was back in the charts with Ich hab’ einen guten Freund gehabt, which made number 33 and proved her last hit of the decade.
In early 1967 Marion released an album made up of all her singles and their B-sides, plus a few new songs, including covers of both sides of British singer Lulu’s 1966 Decca German-language single, Wenn du da bist, and Gisela Collins’ Du bist genau wie die Anderen.
That year, her credible version of the Ray Davies-penned I go to sleep gained a release both in Germany and in the UK, and is now a treasured find amongst collectors. She also took part in the Mallorca song festival that year and issued a couple of Spanish-language EPs.
However, Marion became increasingly frustrated with the material she was being given to sing. By the time she recorded Klopf auf Holz, later in 1967, she said she would have preferred to go on strike, but let herself be talked round.
Further singles followed, though none met any success.
A surname – Maerz, this time – marked an attempt to start over in the 1970s. An album recorded with Burt Bacharach, Seite eins, failed to sell, though she went on to enjoy a few more hits.
In 2000 she returned to the German charts with the song Vielleicht wären wir glücklich.
With thanks to Peter Ziermann for additional research and to Jens Keller for additional sound files.