The late great Austrian Rock Musician and Rapper Falco (Johann Hölzel) was tragically killed on 6 February 1998 after receiving severe injuries when his Mitsubishi Pajero collided with a bus on the road linking the towns of Villa Montellano and Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. He was born 19 February in 1957 and began to show signs of unusual musical talent very early. As a toddler, he was able to keep time with the drumbeat in songs he heard on the radio. He was given a baby grand piano for his fourth birthday; a year later, his birthday gift was a record player which he used to play music by Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard, and the Beatles. At age five, he auditioned for the Vienna Music Academy.
In 1963, Hölzel began his schooling at a Roman Catholic private school; four years later, at age ten, he switched to the Rainer Gymnasium in Vienna. Shortly thereafter his father Alois Hölzel left the family. From then on, Hölzel was raised by his mother and grandmother. He left school at sixteen in 1973 due to absenteeism. His mother then insisted he begin an apprenticeship with the Austrian employee pension insurance institute, At seventeen, he volunteered for eight months of military service with the Austrian army. He then entered the Vienna Music Conservatory in 1977, but left after one semester to “become a real musician”. He moved to West Berlin while singing in a jazz-rock band and exploring the club scene. When he returned to Vienna he was calling himself “Falco”, in tribute to the East German ski jumper Falko Weißpflog. From 1978 He played bass with the Austrian hard rock-punk rock band Drahdiwaberl until 1983 and also played bass with the space disco band Ganymed in 1981.
Falco’s first hit was “Der Kommissar” from the 1982 album Einzelhaft, which combines German rap verses with a sung chorus. Shortly after British rock band After the Fire recorded an English cover version, based on Falco’s lyrics and also called “Der Kommissar” and American singer Laura Branigan also recorded a version of the song with new English lyrics under the title “Deep in the Dark” on her album Branigan2. Sadly though his second album, Junge Römer (Young Romans) failed to provide a repeat to his debut single’s success.
Falco then began to experiment with English lyrics in an effort to broaden his appeal, and this resulted in his most popular album and single of his career “Rock Me Amadeus” with it’s distinctive guttural delivery, which was inspired in part by the Oscar-winning film Amadeus, and the song became a worldwide hit in 1986. The Follow-up single “Vienna Calling” was another international pop hit. The third song “Jeanny” became Highly controversial when it was released in Germany and the Netherlands, because the story of “Jeanny” was told from the point of view of a possible rapist and murderer. In 1986, he released the album Emotional, which included the Songs “Coming Home (Jeanny Part II, One Year Later)”, “The Kiss of Kathleen Turner”, “Kamikaze Capa” which was written as a tribute to the late photojournalist Robert Capa and “The Sound of Musik”. In 1987 he went on the “Emotional” world tour and also released a duet with Brigitte Nielsen, “Body Next to Body” and an album in 1988 entitled Wiener Blut (Viennese Blood).
Following the accident it was later determined that the bus driver was speeding, and he subsequently served three years in prison. However, at the time of the accident, Falco was under the influence of significant amounts of alcohol, cocaine and THC. At the time of Falco’s death, he was planning a comeback with the album Nachtflug (Night Flight) which included the song “Titanic”, and was released posthumously. He is buried in the Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery) in Vienna, Austria.