Alphaville is a German synthpop group which gained popularity in the 1980s. The founding members were Marian Gold (real name Hartwig Schierbaum, born , 1954 in Herford), Bernhard Lloyd (real name Bernhard G??ling, born , 1960 in Enger, North Rhine-Westphalia), and Frank Mertens (real name Frank Sorgatz, born , 1961 in Enger, North Rhine-Westphalia). The band was at first named Forever Young before changing to Alphaville. They are best known for their two biggest hits, "Big in Japan" and "Forever Young".
Alphaville was born in early 1982, when Marian Gold and Bernhard Lloyd met each other at the music project Nelson Community. Some months later, Frank Mertens joined the project. Together the three wrote Forever Young and recorded their first demo of the same name. In 1984, the newly-renamed Alphaville released their debut single, "Big in Japan", which Gold wrote in 1979 after hearing the music of Holly Johnson's band Big in Japan. In autumn 1984, they released their debut album, Forever Young. Despite its success, Frank Mertens left the band that year and was replaced in January 1985 by Ricky Echolette (born Wolfgang Neucaus, in Cologne on 7 August 7 1960), who was credited on the Forever Young album.
"Big In Japan" was Alphaville's biggest hit, topping the charts in Germany, Greece, Switzerland, Sweden and the U.S. Billboard Dance Chart (the group's only Top 10 on any Billboard chart). The single also reached the Top Five in Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Ireland and South Africa. It became the group's only Top 20 single in the UK, peaking at #8.
The band's next two singles, "Sounds Like a Melody" and "Forever Young," were also both European Top 5 successes, although the former track failed to make an impression on the American charts.
Amid reports that pop star Laura Branigan was featuring the song on her next album, Hold Me, Alphaville's "Forever Young" was re-released as a single in the US, but it did not prove to be massively popular. Branigan's version, though promoted on stickers adorning the album, subsequently remained an album cut in the US. She would go on to perform the song as an encore at nearly every concert she performed, until her death in 2004. The Alphaville version was released a third time in the US in 1988, to promote Alphaville: The Singles Collection, and peaked at #65, their highest charting (and also last) single on the Billboard Hot 100. International re-releases of Alphaville's "Forever Young" followed in 1989, 1993, 1996, 1999, 2001 and 2005. Several covers have been recorded and remixed, featuring male or female vocalists often erroneously attributed to be Alphaville's Marian Gold or Laura Branigan.
Afternoons in Utopia
In 1986, their second album, Afternoons in Utopia, was successfully released and its first single "Dance with Me" was a Top 20 hit in Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and South Africa, and peaked at #25 in Austria. The LP was followed up in 1989 with The Breathtaking Blue, including the acclaimed (if not so successful) singles "Romeos" and "Mysteries of Love". The album was released as a CD+G, including black & white stills with original lyrics and German translation. As an alternative to individual music videos, the band enlisted nine directors, among them Godfrey Reggio (Koyaanisqatsi), to create a film entitled Songlines based on the album's tracks.
The next album, Prostitute, was not released until 1994. In 1996, Ricky Echolette left the band. Salvation, a back-to-the-roots opus, followed in 1997. Stark Naked and Absolutely Live was released in 2000, followed by the remix album Forever Pop the following year. A DVD?Little America?was released in 2001, documenting two concerts performed in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Bernhard Lloyd did not contribute to the 2003 CrazyShow album, and shortly after its release on March 18 of that year, he officially left the group. The current core stage members of Alphaville are Marian Gold (vocals), Martin Lister (keyboards), David Goodes (guitars) and Pierson Grange (drums).
Gold has released two solo albums (So Long Celeste, 1992, and United, 1996, both mixing personal creations and covers), alongside his work in the band.
Lloyd also worked on a project named Atlantic Popes with singer Max Holler, a 13-track CD. In 1996, Frank Mertens started a musical project called Maelstrom, which was a combination of ambient-style music, impressionistic and colorful art in the form of paintings and sculptures, and etheric poetry. This project seems now to have been abandoned, though, as Mertens has not been visibly active with it.
At present the band is still touring and working on new material and have re-signed with WEA. Song titles for the next release include "Gallery", "Around the Universe", "My Very Blood", and "Sweet Dreams".