Status: 26.09.2023, 07:00 a.m.
By: Maria Zsolnay
Udo Jürgens' son John Jürgens at the Oktoberfest.jpg © Achim Frank Schmidt
With momentum, John Jürgens packs his 1.90 meters onto the bright yellow motorcycle in the children's carousel. More than 50 years ago, he drove it in circles – when he was still a little boy and on the hand of mum Panja and dad Udo Jürgens at the Oktoberfest.
For tz, he has sat down on the children's carousel again – not because he enjoys it so much ("everything that goes around in circles makes me dizzy quickly"), but because it is important to bring something very special from his father's work back to life: the children's songs by Udo Jürgens († 80), which the legendary singer and entertainer composed in the early 1970s. He was able to win James Krüss, at that time already an excellent children's book author (including Timm Thaler), for the texts. Where have the songs been so far? "On vinyl records. But that was 50 years ago and the songs have been forgotten a little. Now we have brought out a part again, selected it and digitized it," says John.
We are Udo's children John and Jenny, now 59 and 56 years old, at that time, in 1971, just seven and four years young and growing up with Udo's songs. "They're not nursery rhymes in the traditional sense, with small, silly, green men." Rather, they are sensitive, intelligent songs that encourage and inspire children.
"He had a desire to bring fun to children, but he also had a message for them," John explains. "For example, in the song Flowers bloom the same everywhere. In other words, whether it's Paris or Kiev, children everywhere are children who want to play, who want to be happy, even though they live in different countries, look different and speak different languages."
That's why the songs are timeless. "For my father, entertainment always meant attitude. Dad always dared to do something, he always opened his mouth."
That's how he was in his private life: "He listened to us children, took us seriously," John recalls in an interview with tz. "He's gone to our level."
Udo Jürgens was already a superstar at that time, leaving the upbringing mainly to his wife Panja. "It felt like he was 80 percent gone, but somehow he was always present." Joint visits to the Oktoberfest were something special due to time constraints. "Back then, it was more relaxed, my parents sat in the tent – but not in any VIP area – and we walked to the rides. My dad wasn't the merry-go-round type (laughs)." Udo always remained down-to-earth – and passed this on to his children. As well as the love for music: "My father gave me the music that he also loved to listen to. He brought me Queen, Supertramp and Led Zeppelin records. I got Klaus Doldinger and Alan Parsons Project from him. That's what he was into."
Even Udo's favorite sport, swimming, is still John's favorite sport today. After all the inheritance disputes, peace has finally returned to the family. The family preserves, cultivates and continues Udo's musical legacy. "Next year our father would have turned 90 years old. And it is also the tenth anniversary of his death. We have to celebrate that," says John. That's why the organizer Semmelmann is doing a Da Capo-Udo-Jürgens tour, together with the Pepe Lienhard Orchestra, which plays live to the recordings of Udo Jürgens. Only Munich, long the home of Udo Jürgens, is left out. For 2024, all halls were already fully booked.
But maybe John's dream will soon come true: a small, fine club where he can play his funk and soul as DJ John Munich. "It doesn't always have to be Anton from Tyrol, does it?" Except, perhaps, at the Oktoberfest...