Tragedy lay in store for German singer Renate Kern after the erstwhile Schlager star turned Country and Western songstress and tried for a career in the United States.
Brunette Renate Kern was born Renate Poggensee on 23 January 1945 in Tann. She wisely renamed herself Renate Kern for professional purposes, and began her recording career in 1965, at the age of 20. She had been singing in a school band before joining a local group, the Foot-Tappers, and being discovered by record producer Werner Last (brother of orchestra conductor James Last).
Her first single, the lively Kiss and shake, scraped into the German top 40 in the summer of 1965, and prompted a release of the song in English, as Now and then. In October, she headed to London’s Pye studios – home to British stars such as Sandie Shaw, Petula Clark and Julie Grant – to re-record the song, with added backing vocals.
Back in Germany, in a complete change of style, the sentimental Du bist meine Liebe was issued in December that year, and made the top 40, just. The single was also recorded in English, as I’ll remember summer.
A version of the Seekers’ A world of our own, Eine Welt für uns zwei flopped, but she found herself in the charts once again, albeit at the lower end of the top 40, with subsequent singles, Bis morgen and Laß den dummen Kummer in 1966 and An irgendeinem Tag in 1967.
Surprisingly, two of her best singles of the period, Stop the beat and Eine schlaflose Nacht, both issued in 1967, failed altogether.
It wasn’t until the late summer of 1968 that she managed to break into the top ten, with Lieber mal weinen im Glück, which she'd performed at the Deutsche Schlager-Wettbewerb (losing out to Swedish singer Siw Malmkvist). The song's Teutonic marching-band chorus set the tone for the rest of her 1960s career.
Similarly styled Du mußt mit den Wimpern klimpern (which she co-wrote), Laß doch den Sonnenschein and Lieber heute geküßt all filed up the hit parade.
At the same time, Renate accompanied James Last on a world tour.
Her last brush with the top 30 came in 1970 with Alle Blumen brauchen Sonne, a song she had also performed at the Deutsche Schlager-Wettbewerb song contest, finishing second.
Her 1972 cover of The days of Pearly Spencer, Die Antwort von den Sternen, has gained a certain cult following in recent years.
By the end of the decade, desperate for success, she restyled herself as blonde Country and Western singer Nancy Wood. Sadly, she had no greater luck in this incarnation.
Even more tragically, in 1991, she hanged herself.
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