Born Johann Hölzel in Austria, Falco displayed musical talents at a very early age. So much so that his parents bought him a frigging baby grand piano for his fourth birthday. Seriously. Hell, I’ve got friends who’ve been playing piano professionally for 30+ years who still don’t have a baby grand. What the hell?
Anyway, Johann didn’t become Falco until around 1977, when he returned to Austria from West Berlin. It’s rumored that he chose the name as a tribute to Falko Weißpflog, an East German skier.
After a few years and gigs ranging from the Vienna Music Conservatory to playing bass in a punk band and again in a disco band, Falco finally got around to releasing his first solo album, Einzelhaft, in 1982. Der Kommissar was his first hit from the album and dinged number one in several countries. It failed to break in the U.S., however, the band After The Fire released an English version of it that reached number five in the U.S. (Laura Brannigan also released a version that went nowhere.) I’ve always loved After The Fire’s version and haven’t heard the original.
Comparatively, Falco’s second album, Junge Roemer, did squat, so he started writing lyrics in English, which turned out to be a really good move. Because, in 1985, he released …
Falco 3. And this is where Falco’s life changed forever. Rock Me Amadeus was a worldwide smash, hitting number one in the U.S. and U.K. and at least ten other countries. It stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks and the album hit number three on the Billboard charts. Hell, it even hit number six on the Billboard Top R&B Singles chart and the album hit number eighteen on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Album chart.
Falco 3 also produced Vienna Calling, a top twenty hit in the U.S., and Jeanny, which charted highly in Europe. Jeanny was pretty much ignored in the U.S. due to it’s graphic subject matter.
1986’s Emotional produced several singles. The Sound of Musik was a Top 20 dance hit but failed to enter the U.S. pop charts.
Wiener Blut (1988), Data de Grove (1990), and his comeback attempt Nachtflug (1992) failed to come close to his prior successes.
Sadly, on February 6, 1998, Falco was killed in a car wreck in the Dominican Republic.
Falco 3 was easily one of the best albums released in the ’80s. While everyone remembers Rock Me Amadeus, and it is a great song, the rest of the album kicks. Vienna Calling is, in my opinion, probably the best song on the album. If you don’t have it, go get it. Without it, you’re missing a huge piece of history. That album is fun stuff.