Die H÷hner championed the traditions of German folk and karnevalsmusik into the 21st century, even singing in the local dialect of their native K÷ln. Peter Werner, Walter Pelzer, Rolf Lessenich, and Janus Fr÷hlich founded the group -- originally dubbed H÷hnerhoff (i.e., "Chickenyard") -- in 1972. Per their tongue-in-cheek moniker, the quartet played its earliest gigs in chicken costumes, decorating the stage like a barnyard and dumping feathers into the audience. With 1973's "H÷hnerhoff-Rock," the band scored its first hit, followed a year later by the beloved "Scheiss Ejal, ob Do Hohn Bes Oder Hahn." In 1975 H÷hnerhoff abbreviated its name to Die H÷hner, that same year headlining the cast of the stage farce Drei Dag ahl K÷lle. In 1976, the group mounted its first nationwide tour, playing to its biggest audience to date at the Lachende Mnnsterhalle. Despite their burgeoning success, Rolf Lessenich exited in 1977, and with new frontman Peter Horn, Die H÷hner recorded "Unsre Bock Ess Meister" in tribute to football club 1. FC K÷ln. Team supporters embraced the song with such fervor that the band is now inseparable from the 1. FC K÷ln culture. Pelzer was the next to exit, and after adding Franz Martin Willizil, Die H÷hner expanded to a five-piece with the 1979 introduction of Gnnter Steinig. After scoring a hit with 1980's "Ich Ben Clown," inevitably accompanied by live performances in clown costumes, the group signed with major label EMI to release the album Ich Bin Ne RSuber, which ascended to number three on the German pop charts.
Successive albums including Schlawiner and Op J÷ck further bolstered Die H÷hner's fan base, and the group racked up a progression of industry awards and honors, culminating in the 1985 Rote-Funken-Orden for "Echte Frnnde." After close to a decade of service, Horn resigned from the lineup in 1986, prompting the addition of new lead singer Henning Krautmacher. Both contributed vocals to 10 Jahre Stimmung Us K÷lle. After permanently mothballing the clown costumes, the group also abbreviated its name yet again, this time to simply "H÷hner," with the 1987 release of Fnr Dich. Two years later they issued "Nase Vorn," donating all revenues to UNICEF. Steinig was the next to turn in his resignation, with Hannes Sch÷ner -- who contributed backing vocals on the three previous H÷hner albums -- named as his replacement. In 1992 the band launched Zwei Zimmer, Knche, Diele, Bad, the first in a series of performance art productions they dubbed "comcertos" (i.e., half comedy, half concerto). Conversely, they also emphasized their serious side, teaming with the anti-racism initiative Arsch Huh AG. So great was H÷hner's popularity that in 1993 an automobile, the Rosenmontagszug, was designed in their honor. That same year they introduced their second comcerto, Wartesaal der TrSume. The group next contributed the theme music to the television series Die Weltings vom Bahnhof, additionally appearing in several episodes. In 1995, they debuted a third comcerto, Hanhnewaldklinik, and earned the esteemed Goldene Musikbox award for the LP Classic.
After releasing its first Christmas album with 1996's Doheim un _vverall, H÷hner celebrated its silver anniversary with the concert series Zeitreise: 25 Jahre H÷hner, additionally releasing the double album Fnnfundzwanzig Jahre Kult. Health problems forced the exit of Franz Martin Willizil following the release of the chart smash "Die Karawane Zieht Weiter." With new member Peter Bauchwitz, H÷hner mounted a new comcerto, Club Sultano. With K÷ln's famed Circus Roncalli, the group next mounted 2000's H÷hner Rockin' Roncalli Show, which generated both CD and DVD releases. H÷hner celebrated its 30th anniversary with a gala concerto at the K÷ln Arena. After a relatively brief five-year tenure, Bauchwitz left the group in 2003, resulting in the addition of Jens Streifling. A pair of new H÷hner Rockin' Roncalli Show productions followed in 2004. That same year, the group also returned to the German pop charts with the single "Alles Was Ich Will." After receiving the 2006 Die Goldene Krone, awarded to the most popular carnival act, H÷hner continued its commercial renaissance with the chart entries "Ohne Dich Geht Es Nicht" and "DS K÷lsche Pass." A year later, their "Wenn Nicht Jetzt, Wann Dann?" was named the official theme of the Handball-Weltmeisterschaft 2007 event, and the resulting exposure was enough to earn H÷hner its first-ever German number one hit. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
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