He still sings “Santa Maria” today
Kaiser celebrated his first chart entry in 1976 with the now rather unknown song “Free – that means alone”, which at least reached number 14. Even the second chart hit, “Sieben Fassers Wein”, remains unforgotten – even if it was actually intended for Rex Gildo.
The West Berliner no longer sings the drinking song (“Seven barrels of wine will not be dangerous to us”) at concerts. But his only number one hit “Santa Maria” to date. Kaiser is not telling the story of how the ballad came about for the first time – like so many things in his long career.
Kaiser and co-writer Norbert Hammerschmidt actually want to sing about Christopher Columbus’ ship of the same name. Too intellectual for producer Meisel: “How do we want to transport emotions when we give history lessons?”. Over a bottle of red wine, the disappointed authors draft a “fun version” with a completely over the top text: “At night on your snow-white beaches I held your youth in my hands”.
Clearly ambiguous texts
Meisel is enthusiastic, Kaiser perplexed: the audience obviously loves heartbreak and ambiguity. The “philosopher trapped in the body of a pop singer” (“taz”) takes advantage of this from now on. “In my songs, I tried to go beyond holding hands. Relationship is also sexuality. You can also say that if you do it in a stylish way without becoming vulgar.”
Kaiser’s lyrics are about seduction (“Joana. Born to give love”), secret affairs (“Sometimes I would like to spell the word “desire” with you one night”) and desire (“Love me one last time . Let me feel you again”). The “Stern” calls him the “soft pornographer of German hits”.
No wonder that women’s hearts fly to him privately. Kaiser stands in front of the altar three times. The first marriage fails after ten years (“I was just too young at the time and couldn’t resist a lot of temptations”), the second after five (“I took every job I could get at the time. It was just too much” ). Kaiser has been married to his current wife Silvia for 26 years: “For me, this is the most important person in my life.”
The woman from Münster stands by the cult singer even in what is probably his most difficult phase. In 2000, doctors diagnosed the then chain smoker with the chronic lung disease COPD, which Kaiser kept secret for a long time. “In retrospect, it would have been intelligent to say so openly to avoid speculation,” says Kaiser today. “I just didn’t want to show my vulnerability.”
At some point it is no longer possible, the musician opens up on stage. A transplant saved his life in 2010. His doctors say they listened to Kaiser songs during the procedure. A few months later something happens that the experts don’t think is possible: Kaiser is back on stage and starts his second career.