In Eurovisionland, it’s all about Austria these days…Who will sing for Austria? Who will host the show? And how is this party gonna go down? But today we are not gonna think about 2015. No, we are staying in 2014 and celebrating Mr. Udo Jürgens—Austria’s first Eurovision winner of the Eurovision Song Contest. Today he turns 80!
Born Udo Jürgen Bockelmann, Udo started his career in 1950, when he competed in a composer contest for the Austrian broadcast. He went on to perform gigs in some little bars with the “Udo Bolán Band” and by 1960 had composed “Reach for the stars” sung by the one and only Shirley Bassey. Four years later he decided to represent his home country in the Grand Prix de la Chanson in Copenhagen with his song “Warum nur, Warum?” (“Only Why, Why?”). He’d compete in 1964, 1965 and 1966 editions—making him the Valentina Monetta of the 60s!
With this melodramatic ballad he placed sixth. The same year he composed “If I never sing another song” for Frank Sinatra, but ultimately Sammy Davis Jr. ended up with it. A year later, Austria’s state broadcaster ORF decided to send him to Eurovision again, this time in Italy. His self-composed song “Sag ihr, ich lass sie grüßen” placed fourth.
Finishing as a near winner wasn’t enough for the courageous Austrian. He traveled to Luxembourg and tried his luck for a third time. Mother Fortune was on his side: He won the Contest with his stunner “Merci Cherie”, becoming the first Austrian winner in the competition. Only God knew that his victory would be Austria’s first and last for nearly 50 years…
With his victory, a new star was born and Udo held concerts all over the world. Udo was especially loved in German-speaking areas of Europe and a string of #1 hits. He appeard in shows and movies and established himself as an Austrian legend.
Udo Jürgens turns 80 today but he is still on tour. Yeah, you heard right! This Austrian grandfather is squeezing every ounce of life out of his life! That’s why it’s a special pleasure for us to wish him Happy Birthday and say “Merci cherie” for giving us all these wonderful songs.