IMore and more often I am asked to make my desperation about the passing of the rock stars of my youth public in the form of various obituaries. The comforting saying “Too old to rock ‘n’ roll, too young to die” has had its day, there are now more good rock bands in heaven than on earth.
Now my age group has always bragged that we were musically more flexible than future generations. This is also true! When I was twenty, I played hard rock by Led Zeppelin as a DJ in the early evening and Roland W. at midnight with the snotty “Mo-hoo-hon-ja”. I saw the Beatles in black and white for the first time on television and found it neither surprising nor devastating that afterwards the lanky Silvio Francesco danced through the picture on his long legs. After all, he was the brother of Caterina Valente.
Whereby we would be on the topic. Caterina Valente is turning ninety and I was asked if I would take this opportunity to congratulate her. I do it with enthusiasm, I am grateful for every star of my youth who is still alive. When “the Valente” turned fifty, I was thirty, and neither of us had known what to do with each other. In 1966 the “Caterina Valente Show” was broadcast on ZDF with a big roll of drums. That evening I probably withdrew discreetly to my room to listen to the new Beatles album “Revolver”, the first LP that I had in my life bought.
At sixteen I didn’t care that Caterina Valente had already sung a duet with Dean Martin, and that my mother thought she was a great artist didn’t help either. But somehow you were socialized with the hit at the time of my puberty. Without even realizing it and being somehow ashamed of it today.
If someone throws me the line of text “Get into the dream boat of love”, then I continue with the text confidently: “Go with me to Hawaii – there on the island of beauty, happiness is waiting for the two of us”. Yes, there were times when “Hawaii” inevitably rhymed with “the two of us”. Those were the great times of Caterina Valente. She was considered an all-rounder, could sing and dance and was a German Italian, or an Italian German. That much migrant background was just about able to withstand back then. And when Caterina Valente was my guest at “Wetten, dass ..?” In 1993, my mother congratulated me defiantly: “Finally a German star, it doesn’t always have to be foreigners!” But Caterina is actually an Italian who was married to a German in her first marriage. She was one of the stars I grew up with. Freddy Quinn, Vico Torriani and Peter Alexander were cut from the same cloth.
The colorful world of the sixties was clear: In the bar there was a bottle of Asbach Uralt, on the kitchen table was Maggi, on television, if one had such a device, Peter Frankenfeld wore a black and white checked jacket (the color television was still in progress) , and Caterina Valente was singing on the radio.
She did this in different languages, all of which she mastered perfectly, and I am glad that I grew up with this standard of quality. That was the standard that I set myself when I suddenly found myself in show business without having fought for it. And when I saw Caterina Valente “for real” for the first time at some award ceremony, I knew I had made it. But when I tell my sons that, they ask: “Caterina who?” That is the path that we all go, not just in show business. I am happy to know her and hope that she still remembers me. “Bonjour Kathrin” – and Happy Birthday to your ninetieth.