From singer to producer, actress to television presenter, Germany’s Suzanne Doucet has done it all. In a career spanning over 40 years, she has gained recognition and respect for her pop ditties, Schlager stylings, serious chansons and new age music alike.
She was born on 27 August 1948 in Tübingen, southern Germany. Suzanne grew up learning to play the guitar. After leaving school, she toured France and Italy, paying her way by performing in the streets.
After returning to Germany in 1963, she was discovered in Munich and swiftly signed to the Metronome label. Label bosses whisked off to Berlin that summer to record her first 45, the catchy Schenk mir einen Tag mit viel Amore. Surprisingly, however, the record, released later that year, failed to attract much attention.
But her second single made Suzanne an overnight star. Das geht doch keinen etwas an, a cover of a French hit by Le Petit Prince, C’est bien joli d’être copains, reached number ten in Germany and spent 16 weeks on the charts in the early summer of 1964. (The B-side was even better: Sei mein Baby was a terrific cover of The Ronettes’ Be my baby.)
Billed as a German answer to Italian livewire Rita Pavone, Suzanne enjoyed a high media profile.
Her follow up single, Okay, ich geh’, composed by Charly Niessen, hit record shops in September 1964 and would sell 300,000 copies.
The bright and breezy So long, so long – which she also released in English for the Japanese market – and Glück und Liebe made it into the German top 40 too. (The B-side of the latter, Aber was weiß ich von dir, penned by Joachim Heider and Martin Binder, was a treat that owed more than a little to The Chiffons’ One fine day.)
However, each successive release fared worse than the one before it and by the end of 1965 her luck had run out altogether. Das steht in keinem Schulbuch sank completely, despite another great girl group styling, Geh’ nicht am Glück vorbei, on the B-side.
Similarly, the beat-tastic Du mußt dich entscheiden, issued in 1966, couldn’t restore Suzanne to the charts. However, the record has since become another favourite among fans.
In an unusual move, Suzanne invested all the money she’d made to date in an LP. She produced the album, Rot wie Rubin, and its contents proved something of a departure for the teenage singer. Complete with material she had composed with Udo Jürgens and others, the album offered a more mellow sound than fans had been used to. Highlights included Mein erster Weg, Wenn die Nacht vergeht and the title track.
Continuing this gentler sound, Suzanne headed over to Belgium in 1967 to take part in the Knokke Cup song festival, where she performed another of her own compositions, Kleine Kinder.
A switch to the Liberty record label in 1968 saw Suzanne begin recording in London with Les Reed, Tom Jones’s producer.
Meanwhile, back in Germany, Metronome sought to cash in on her renewed popularity with the release of an LP, imaginatively entitled Suzanne Doucet. The album brought together all of the singer’s recordings for the label.
Her first collaboration with Reed was Nur mit dir, which recycled one of his compositions, Baby I don’t care, originally cut by British singer Kiki Dee. Suzanne’s highly credible version of the song has enjoyed a lasting popularity, though the 45 failed to make a dent on the charts upon its release.
The Bee Gees-penned Swan song was chosen to lead a charge into singing in English. Issued not only in Germany but also in the United States, the song was well received, and its flip, Cry my heart, also proved popular. In fact, the B-side was re-recorded in German as Es ist vorbei and issued as the B-side to Suzanne’s follow up single, Wenn New York brennt. It proved another of her better releases, although it also failed to register with the German record-buying public.
The multilingual album Suzanne Doucet international followed in 1969. A couple of further singles – Liebe kann mann nicht verbieten and Nein sagt sich so leicht, a version of Easy to be hard, from the musical Hair – saw out the decade.
By this time, Suzanne had enjoyed success as an actress in various television dramas and as the presenter of ZDF’s 4-3-2-1 Hot and sweet TV show.
After a one-release in 1970 as part of the group Zweistein, which included her sister Diane and three others, Suzanne began spending more time writing songs than recording them. Artists as diverse as Wencke Myhre, Mireille Matthieu and Vivi Bach would record her compositions.
She was tempted back into the studios in 1973 to record the charmingly nostalgic Wo sind all die schönen Jahre, and a change of style saw her issue the new-age album Essig und Öl two years later.
After a brief flirtation with roller disco in the late 1970s – which saw her record Fass mich nicht an and the grammatically dubious Roller skate is up to date – she set up her own record label. There, she would indulge her love of new age music and issue the LP Reisefieber.
In 1983 Suzanne moved to the US and over the course of the decade and into the 1990s, she achieved increasing recognition as an authority in new age music.
With thanks to Arnold Niederl for additional sound files.