First Austrian winner Udo Jürgens dies
It is with deep regret that we announce that Austria's first winner of the Eurovision Song Contest, Udo Jürgens has died today at the age of 80. The three time entrant as a singer, won the 1966 edition of Europe's Favourite TV Show with his own co-composed song, Merci, Chérie and sold more than 100 million records.
Born on the 30th September, 1934 as Udo Jürgen Bockelmann, he was the composer and performer of many hit songs over a career that lasted over 50 years. Amongst his early credits was Reach For The Stars which Shirley Bassey took to the number one slot in the UK charts in 1961.
Multi Eurovision entrant
He first entered the Eurovision Song Contest for Austria in 1964, with the song Warum Nur Warum, which earned him a respectable sixth place. The song was covered by fellow 1964 Eurovision entrant, Matt Monro, and given an English lyric by Don Black, and became an international hit under the title Walk Away.
The following year he returned to the contest, this time co-writing the entry with Frank Bohlen, and the song Sag Ihr, Ich Lass Sie Grüßen which earned him a fourth place, and at the time the best result for Austria to date.
However it was to be third time lucky in 1966, when he took the song Merci Chérie to the top of the scoreboard, and a runaway victory for Austria. The song was co written with Thomas Hörbiger, and despite the French language title, was sung in German. The song became a million seller, and did well in the charts in Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands. [An English language cover version by Vince Hill made the UK top 40 charts]. The song was translated into many languages, including Polish, Italian and Romanian to name but a few. The winning song was conducted by Hans Hammerschmid.
It was Jürgens himself who took the baton at the opening of the 1967 Eurovision Song Contest, when he conducted the orchestra in a brief rendition of his winning song Merci Chérie. He also awarded the winners trophy to his successor, Sandie Shaw.
He made it five appearances in a row at the Eurovision Song Contest, when in 1968 he composed the music for the Austrian entry, Tausend Fenster, sung by the Czech singer, Karel Gott, though the song finished in a disappointing 13th place.
Never the less, his winning song of 1966 and his fourth placed entry in 1965 were the two best placed Austrian entries, until of course 2014 ,when Conchita Wurst gave Austria its long awaited second victory, and a return to the contest being hosted in Vienna in 2015.
In the following years, he wrote some of his most famous songs, like Griechischer Wein, Aber Bitte Mit Sahne, Mit 66 Jahren, and, one of his biggest successes, Buenos Días, Argentina, which he performed together with the German national football team in 1978.
Bing Crosby was just one of the many famous artists who recorded songs he had composed, and the aforementioned Matt Monro also covered several more songs he had composed
In 2007 he took Swiss citizenship, and in the same year Ich War Noch Niemals In New York (I've never been to New York) opened in Hamburg, which weaved many of his songs into a storyline, in much the same way ABBA's songs are used in Mamma Mia.
Eurovision.tv would like to extend their codolences to the family and friends of Udo Jürgens.