James Last

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James Last (1970)
Load in the Festhalle Frankfurt (2015)

James Last (born April 17, 1929 in Bremen as Hans Last ; † June 9, 2015 in West Palm Beach , Florida , United States ) was a German band leader , composer , arranger and music producer . With his 40-piece orchestra he shaped the "Happy Sound", which belongs to the Easy Listening style , with which he had such great success for around two decades from 1965 that at times it accounted for almost 30 percent of the record sales of Polydor Germany.

As Hans Last (until 1965)

Childhood and parental home

Hans Last was born at Helmholtzstrasse 33 in Bremen - Sebaldsbrück , where the family was just finishing their own house.

The father Louis Last (1889–1971) was a seaman at a young age and then became a civil servant at the Bremen municipal utility . With Bernhard, Fred and Minna he had brought three children from his first wife, who died at a young age, into the second marriage. His greatest passion was music; So he drove to events with a bicycle trailer in which he transported bandoneon and drums , in order to play for 4 Reichsmarks for a whole evening.

The mother Martha Last (née Rex) (1896–1977) came from a not particularly musical family. She gave birth to three children, Robert , Werner and Hans.

In contrast to his half-siblings, Hans' brothers Robert and Werner were also very musical, Robert played the drums and Werner played the trombone. In the Last house there was also an old mechanical piano with the cylinder removed, on which Hans made his first musical attempts.

Army Music School Bückeburg

Since all civilian training centers were closed due to the war in 1943, there was only the possibility of becoming a musician with the Wehrmacht . Last began training at the Army Music School in Frankfurt am Main in 1943 . Most of all he wanted to learn the clarinet , but the bassoon had been chosen for him. The double bass was added as a second instrument . The bassoon only connected Last with the Baroque ; in his eyes it was only suitable for the music of a long past time, which he did not like. Before the training began, the school buildings were destroyed by an air raid. Last was then transferred to the Bückeburg Army Music School .

In Bückeburg no one knew who should learn which instrument, so Last was able to get the double bass as the first instrument. The combination he wanted with the clarinet was not allowed, however; the bass always included the tuba as a second instrument. Playing the tuba was easy for Last. On bass, he liked the fact that he could be played in a dance orchestra with drums and accordion, the instruments of his brothers. Playing the piano was also part of the lessons. Free play was just as insignificant as light music, besides classical music there was only marching music.

The school was closed in April 1945, after which the training period ended prematurely. All students born before April 1, 1929 were drafted for the final weeks of the war. Hans Last was able to take a freight train from Minden to Bremen, where he found the house where he was born intact.

As a musician in Bremen

American clubs

In June 1945 Last became a professional musician. At the request of US occupation soldiers, he first played the piano in their clubs in Bremen until a double bass was confiscated for him. It was during this time that Last's first arrangement was made , music to accompany the film The Hunters .

Radio Bremen

The service card for Radio Bremen

Last, gambling did not seem a future-proof job for the Americans. He became the bass player in the Radio Bremen dance orchestra and was there when broadcasting began on December 23, 1945. In May 1947 the name Hans Last was mentioned for the first time in the press, in a criticism of the orchestra by the Weser-Kurier . In addition to the large dance orchestra, there was a small line-up, the Last Becker Ensemble , which grew to 13 and played on numerous colorful evenings.


In addition to dance music, Hans Last played jazz . His great role model was the bassist Chubby Jackson . Later the young Dane Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen joined them, but at that time Last was already mainly active as an orchestra conductor and only occasionally took up the bass. Around 1950, Hans and Robert Last played for some time in the Andras Hartmann Trio, whose recordings were also broadcast on the radio. Last won in 1950 and in the two following years the choice of the popular men's magazine Die Gondel as the best jazz bassist.

At the first German Jazz Festival in 1953 in Frankfurt am Main, the best players were formed into the German All Stars with Paul Kuhn on piano, Max Greger on tenor saxophone, Günter Fuhlisch on trombone, Fred Bunge on trumpet, Franz von Klenk on alto saxophone, Gerhard Hühns on guitar, Teddy Paris on drums and Hans Last on bass. The concert was released by Telefunken as a long-playing record and was particularly praised by the critics for the excellent rhythm section .

Hans Last Orchestra

Last was also successful in the field of dance music . He wrote arrangements for both the Last Becker Ensemble and the large dance orchestra of Radio Bremen. He was then asked to found a string orchestra for Radio Bremen . This is how the Hans Last Orchestra came about . You played live or for recordings on the radio twice a week for a fee. The orchestra was already working with a tape recorder with which each voice was recorded four times individually with all violins. Then the orchestra played along with the recordings so that the few strings, namely eight violins, two violas and two cellos, sounded much more impressive. The model was the Italian orchestra leader Annunzio Mantovani . Last had an independent employee contract, but Radio Bremen as a small broadcasting station with few listeners could not pay much. That is why he gave up the leading position and went to Hamburg as an orchestra musician.

In Hamburg

NWDR dance orchestra

In 1955 Hans and Waltraud Last married and moved to Hamburg-Langenhorn . The occasion was an employment as a bass player in the NWDR dance orchestra, initially as a freelance, from January 1956 as a permanent employee of the NDR. The dance orchestra was directed by the saxophonist and clarinetist Franz Thon until 1980 . It often accompanied the singing stars of the time, such as Vico Torriani , Bibi Johns or Peter Alexander . Last was able to use the experience with the singers later as a producer. Last also created arrangements, for example for Franz Thon and Alfred home . While he had received 75 DM for an arrangement from Radio Bremen, in Hamburg it was 150 DM, later sometimes even 450 DM for a large arrangement.

Electric bass

During this time Last played mainly an acoustic bass, but was one of the first musicians in Germany to already have an electric bass . It was the Gibson Guitar Corporation model EB-1 .

Helmut Zacharias, Harry Hermann and Michael Jary

Last also created arrangements for Helmut Zacharias , who had switched from jazz to popular light music. He was also traveling with him in Europe for a while. Zacharias toured with a large orchestra, but still strengthened the bass: Last recorded all the tracks in advance at night in the Hamburg music hall. In the concert he had headphones on and duplicated his own recording, with the tape recorder clearly visible on the stage.

The largest Hamburg orchestra was led by Harry Hermann , it consisted of the dance and radio orchestras of the NDR . Hermann had previously been a violist with the Vienna Philharmonic , and his sound ideas looked accordingly lush. He was very enthusiastic about the tape recordings that Last introduced to him from his time in Bremen. He could hardly believe they had been made with so few instruments. Last was then allowed to work for him as an arranger and enjoyed great freedom, but record producers were not interested in it.

Last also worked for Michael Jary . With him he drove to the premieres of the film How do I become a film star with Nadja Tiller and Theo Lingen . Jary had written the music for the film and that's why Last drove to the film premieres in the big movie theaters; the opening program consisted of a performance of some pieces of music from the film.

Moving and starting a family

The permanent position enabled Last to move into a larger apartment in the Uhlenhorst district . Daughter Caterina was born in 1957 and son Ron in 1958. In 1960 the purchase of a row house in Hamburg-Langenhorn followed. Last set up his own workroom in the basement of the house. The extensive party life in the housing estate on Holitzberg inspired Last to non-stop dancing .

Further commissioned work as an arranger

Harry Hermann asked Last for an arrangement on the theme of Alaska on the occasion of his accession to the USA in 1959. The starting point was 16 bars by Lotar Olias , the composer Freddy Quinns . The work was published under the name "Olias". On request, Last received another DM 1000 and the confirmation for further work. He arranged numerous titles, including The Guitar and the Sea , Homesickness for St. Pauli and the great success Boy, Come Back Soon . Word of the success spread quickly, for example Lale Andersen , Fred Bertelmann , Margot Eskens , Brenda Lee , Wencke Myhre (see album Wencke Myhre ), Lolita , Caterina Valente and Hanne Wieder asked about arrangements of Last.

First records

The many arrangements resulted in contacts with the Polydor record company , which resided not far from the NDR broadcasting house. This led to the first recordings under Last's own name. Two long-playing records were called Die gabs only once (1963) and Diewas only once episode 2 (1964). The records contained potpourri hits from the 1940s and 1950s and named Hans Last and the Rosenkavaliere as interpreters . Another LP, released in 1963 under the name Orlando , was called Musical Dreams of Love . This time it was a question of classical compositions with rights that had already expired, which resulted in higher royalties. Songs for Mündige (1965) was one of two cabaret records with frivolous songs and taxes, composed by Lotar Olias with texts by Fritz Graßhoff , performed a. a. by Ernst Stankovski , Edith Hancke , Inge Meysel , Gustav Knuth , Mal Sondock and Hanne Wieder . Last wrote the arrangements and accompanied Hans Last with the orchestra . But the records were not a great success.

As James Last (since 1965)



The NDR offered Last a job for life, but he feared for his creativity with such a regular life and took leave without knowing exactly what would follow. This ended his ten years as a bass player with NDR. He pushed Polydor's plans for an album that ultimately exceeded all expectations. In the 1960s, his happy sound was still a great success.

On Polydor's side, two people in particular ensured the very good sales figures, Ossi Drechsler from the Artist & Repertoire department and Werner Klose from Marketing. Last was the only artist at Polydor to have his own office with a secretary and was able to receive his 100th gold long-playing record on December 2, 1973 . That was an extraordinary success that no artist had ever achieved before. Elvis Presley followed in second and third place with 76 gold records and the Beatles with 58 gold records. In the meantime, over 80 million records have been sold by Last.

Last released up to twelve albums a year. He usually conducted in the Rahlstedt studio during the day and worked out the scores at home in his office in the evenings , on average one title per day.

"I once saw how he wrote it down: the way we write a letter by hand!"

“At that time, twelve LPs were being produced a year, along with twelve television programs, of course, at least for ZDF, and one or two tours. That means, from the time from the mid-seventies on, when I was there, we spent every day in the studio or on tour. "

- Tommy Eggert, member of the band from 1975 to 2015

The trombonist Detlef Surmann was responsible for creating the sheet music as the copyist, whereby the stacks of paper were usually driven back and forth in a taxi.

“I got the score that Hansi had written. He wrote a title and all the instruments that they have to play have been recorded there. And I pulled it out. Each note individually for each instrument. At that time there were no photocopiers, I had to write the duplicates myself. [...] I sat by it, sometimes all night. "

- Detlef Surmann, band member from 1968 to 2015

Sometimes several albums had to be produced in parallel. Then it happened that the recording started even though not all the instruments were arranged, or that the choir sang for one LP and at the same time played the strings for the next.

Name change

In preparation for the international release of Non Stop Dancing '65 , the record company Polydor chose the stage name James Last . This name soon became common in Germany, while Last was referred to as Hansi in England .

Record cover

The shadow writing appears in different colors on the albums

For the records, the lettering James Last was designed with a shadow font ; originally only to be able to read it better, it became a trademark. To Last's incomprehension, the shadow was removed at the end of the 1980s, but reinstated in 1999.

The first James Last albums preferred women on the record cover. In 1968, Polydor decided that Last had to be made known and now featured it on most albums, starting with Rock Around me! , in a suit that matches the theme.


From around 1985, Last's reputation at Polydor changed. Ossi Drechsler and Werner Klose had left the company, and new employees came into managerial positions that considered the burden to be obsolete. Last lost his office when the company moved. There was less and less money available for his productions, which made it more and more difficult for him to maintain the level. In the 1990s the studio in Rahlstedt was no longer available. Last considered changing his record label, but at that time the jurisdiction saw the disposition of the works more with the publisher than with the artist. So you would have had to bring a lot of re-releases onto the market and thus damage the sales of new albums.

Television appearances

Last had his first appearance on German television during the Star Parade on March 14, 1968 in a live broadcast from the Siegerlandhalle in Siegen . He also wrote the theme music for the Star Parade , as well as for the follow-up show Show-Express . After they were discontinued in 1982, there were no further regular appearances, as television professionals now expected that the artists would appear with an insignificant fee because of the advertising effect, which could be achieved with individual performers, but not with a forty-piece orchestra. From now on, there were only occasional specials to see such as Take me on a journey with Captain James , Viva España , James Last plays Bach , In Scotland , James Last in the Allgäu or Mein Miami .

In addition, entire concerts were broadcast on television, for example the 1974 benefit concert in Berlin in front of the Schöneberg Town Hall with 60,000 visitors, a show from the Royal Albert Hall in 1978 or the concert on the Berlin Waldbühne in 1982 together with Freddy Quinn .

In April 2004, on the occasion of his 75th birthday, ZDF showed a James Last cult night , which was also released on DVD .

In 2007, Last was briefly seen in the music video From the Same Star by Ich + Ich .

Private life

Imprint of the hands in the Lloyd Passage

In Hamburg

Last had a new house built on the street where he lived. It was not so easy to see from the street for fans who were now arriving in buses. Last's brother Werner moved into the previous house.

“The singles that entered the American charts were always sent to us with a postal service. And for Non Stop Dancing, the task was always to bet on which title would be in the charts in Germany on the release date of Non Stop Dancing. And we actually had very, very great success with these bets. And I've done that with him more or less as a game since I was eight years old. "

- Ron Last

Ron increasingly advised his father.


Last always spent the school holidays in Obergurgl in winter and on a campsite on Sylt in summer , first in a tent, later in a caravan. Parties were celebrated extensively in both places, with the beach scenes on the beach party albums as a reminder. The long vacation on Sylt ended in the summer of 1970.


The purchase of an Italian luxury limousine ultimately led Last to relocate entirely to Florida in the 1980s , where he set up his own recording studio and even produced the albums. On his return from his last vacation on Sylt, Last suddenly decided to make a detour via Düsseldorf to buy a sporty car there. His wife Waltraud should then take him to the initial inspection. She suffered a serious accident on the autobahn in which she was thrown out of the vehicle and the exhaust burned her badly. Because of the large burn scars, she no longer wanted to visit the beach, so the couple spent their summer vacation in 1971 on a boat. The selected yacht had to be picked up in Fort Lauderdale . Eventually they bought a house there. They later sold the boat again and from now on spent the holidays in Florida, where they moved three times, most recently to a house on hole 11 of a golf course in Palm Beach .

James Last tombstone

Last's wife Waltraud died in 1997. His long-time acquaintance and 30 years younger financial advisor Christine Grundner became his second wife.

After a brief, serious illness, James Last died in Florida at the age of 86. He is buried in the family grave at the Hamburg cemetery in Ohlsdorf .

Financial difficulties

James Last did not make as big a fortune as his immense record sales would suggest. He fell victim to a few investment fraudsters, starting with his accountant. He bought oil rigs, wineries and cotton fields in the US as depreciation assets . When he wanted to visit his wineries in 1985, it turned out that none of the projects existed. Thereupon the tax breaks ceased and there were large additional claims. Last was barely prevented from selling his publishing rights. He took out a loan from the Hamburger Sparkasse and was only debt-free again shortly before his 70th birthday.

The happy sound


At the beginning, Last was based on Bert Kaempfert and had tried to create the same sound with the same musicians:

"... so cleverly again in the arrangement that today I don't even remember the first recordings with load, whether they are from Kaempfert or from Last ..."

- Peter Klemt

This gave rise to their own sound, which could already be heard on Non Stop Dancing '65 .

The standard line-up of the orchestra consisted of four trumpets, three trombones, two saxophones or flutes, piano or organ, two guitars, bass, drums, percussion, strings and choir. The arrangement gave the impression that it was being played in unison. In fact, many passages are polyphonic. Guitar and bass can develop freely within the framework of the harmonies and the wind instruments are also allowed to improvise something, whereby they create a perfect sound through the long playing together.


James Last always concentrated on the essentials in his arrangements, his art was above all in omitting. The thought never played a role that all instruments in the orchestra should be equally busy.

“He meticulously analyzed these original songs and looked closely to see what makes this song a hit now. And he adapted that for the way he could arrange and how his musicians could play. "

- Tommmy Eggert

"He arranged every single instrument so that it was tailored to the man."

- Bodo Eckmann

Because of the closeness of the string instruments to the human voice, James Last treated them accordingly. He gave them the same phrasing and breathing arcs as the singers:

“We all have to breathe, and if you overlook this with the strings, the music drags on, then the nerve, the intensity is missing. I let the lower voices sound beyond the actual note value, overhanging, so to speak, so that there is still a harmony above the melody, which then continues in the bass, for example. This results in a reverberation sound that does not arise from the room acoustics, but is already notated in the score: This is precisely what is characteristic of the last sound and makes our strings unmistakable. "

- James Last

For the mood records, James Last followed the principle that an LP had to appear as compact as a single, and therefore let one title pass into the next - the listener shouldn't even think of lifting the needle.

The seating arrangements of the musicians

The first recordings were still made with a single stereo microphone. The musicians were arranged according to a concept carefully thought out by Last, which from then on also applied to all concert appearances: bass loudspeakers, guitar and drums were located in the middle under the microphone; next to it on the left the oboe and on the right the flute. Again next to it there were one or two trumpets on either side for the stereo effect, the left ones starting with a phrase and the right ones repeating this somewhat modified. Behind it were first the strings and then the choir in a semicircle.

Sound engineer Peter Klemt

The long-time sound engineer Peter Klemt played a significant role in the sound. At concerts he made sure that the orchestra sounded like a record. Klemt had converted the Polydor studio in Paris from mono to stereo. Back in Hamburg, he was responsible for all band leaders at Polydor. With the first production he also became the permanent sound engineer of James Last and accompanied the orchestra on its tours. He made sure that the sound you are used to from the record was also produced in the concert hall.

In the 1990s, Last's son Ron took over the job of sound engineer.

The recording studio in Hamburg

In Hamburg-Rahlstedt , the parent company of Polydor Deutsche Grammophon had set up a studio for serious and popular music in a hall . The space was adapted entirely to the needs of popular music, with large adjustable resonance boxes and flexible partition walls to acoustically isolate groups of instruments. The recording room was spacious with a floor area of ​​50 mx 25 m and a height of 15 m, so that one could experiment with different distances from the microphone. There was also a tiled room with a loudspeaker and microphone that could be used to create reverbs from individual instruments. The studio was available to Last practically around the clock, so that he could constantly try out new ideas.

The James Last Orchestra

Stage show

The James Last Orchestra managed to make its stage appearances interesting:

“I had the best jazz musicians in the world in my band. They take their saxophone, play, the solo is over, they put the sax aside - calm. Then the next: trombone - solo - then rest again. With you you can look from left to right, from top to bottom, there is always something going on, people always have something to see. "

- Max Greger to James Last

Last already knew the importance of shows as a young musician: Not only did it go down well when he played his bass particularly effectively. In the Karl-Heinz Becker orchestra, at the point where all the musicians had to shout “Yeah”, he took his stack of notes and threw it into the air, which was so well received by the audience that the organizer asked for it to be repeated.

The tailor for the James Last Band was Charly Cisek. Cisek actually wanted to be an opera dressmaker, but then went into business for himself. Last was one of his customers since 1962. Cisek always dressed the band and had been on tours since the 1980s.

Band life

Last thought the wellbeing of his musicians was very important. So he had his own kitchen built in at Studio Rahlstedt and a cook employed. He often went on vacation for a few days with the musicians. In order to allow the families of the musicians to participate, a leisure center was set up in the village of Fintel at the gates of Hamburg. When the foundation stone was laid, a gold record was built into the fireplace and the inauguration took place in September 1973. The furnishings consisted of a very large living room with a quadraphonic music system, eight adjoining double rooms with bathrooms, an always well-stocked pantry and a wine cellar. Each musician was given a key to use the property. Friends of the band also came to visit, such as Peter Maffay , Udo Lindenberg and Otto Waalkes .

"James Last was a pretty open orchestra [...] not so bang, bang, here comes the music marshal-general or something, that was easy, casual, that was new to them."

- Udo Lindenberg

During a tour, James Last always wanted everyone to stay together after the concert:

“When we came to a hotel, he practically annexed the hotel. First of all he said: Hello, I'm Hansi! How long is the bar open? What? No, it's open all night! So, and first of all he made sure that the hotel was ours. "

- Stefan Pinter, concertmaster and violinist of the band

“When James Last and the orchestra came into a bar, it was over for everyone who was there: all the drinks that were drunk from then on were put on James Last's lid. It didn't matter who sat in the bar, bowling clubs or whatever. "

- Bodo Eckmann

“And then we said: man, that's a bit too much. Then he said: Don't worry, tomorrow the GEMA sack will be at the door again. Because, of course, he gets an incredible amount of GEMA because he arranged everything himself. "

- Hans-Werner Funke, concert organizer


First appearances

At first, the James Last Orchestra only performed at dance events or as accompaniment for a singer. So in 1968 the first, extremely successful tour with Freddy Quinn came about . However, the guests mainly came to dance and especially for Freddy Quinns. This led to the question of whether a tour as a pure instrumental orchestra would also find enough listeners. A first test of this came about in Canada , where there was suddenly a brisk demand for James Last albums without any advertising and these very soon made up 5% of Canadian record sales. They invited James Last one to concerts, of which the first three on the grounds of the World Exhibition Expo 67 in Montreal took place. The day before, the Three Degrees sang in front of a huge crowd, which then turned up for the last concert with 50,000 visitors.

Germany tours

The successful performances in Canada have not yet convinced the concert organizer Hans-Werner Funke of the risk of a tour of Germany. Only after test concerts, supported by the magazine Jasmin and on condition that they bring along a singing star, did Funke finally agree. Last hired the young amateur singer Katja Ebstein , whom he noticed in 1966 at the Schlager Festival in Baden-Baden . The first concert took place on October 10, 1970. With her successful Eurovision contribution Ebstein was always talking about miracles , and the four-week tour through Germany and Denmark turned out to be a huge success, even though they only worked with modest means. The band played without strings and they limited themselves to a single stage spotlight. All concerts were sold out, the Westfalenhalle in Dortmund even three times in a row, each with 12,000 spectators. Eventually it was extended for two more weeks.

James Last in the Lanxess Arena in Cologne (2009)

Since then, the James Last Orchestra has toured almost every year. In Germany, tours were always particularly difficult to organize, between 1987 and 1996 there was no organizer at all who wanted to take the risk for the instrumental group, and Last did not want to travel as a backing band for a voice that might not even fit the orchestra. So it stayed with individual appearances during this time.

Soviet Union

As part of a cultural exchange, the James Last Orchestra toured the Soviet Union in 1972 . Last already had experiences with this country after being there in 1956 with Max Greger and the still completely unknown Udo Jürgens . The people of the Soviet Union only knew James Last from tapes secretly imported into the country and from the BBC radio station . The plans envisaged a total of 20 concerts in Tbilisi , Leningrad , Kiev and Moscow within four weeks. The concert tour was fraught with a number of difficulties. Parts of the necessary equipment were missing. There was further trouble with the program: According to the wishes of the hosts, German and Russian folk songs were part of the program, but the audience was only enthusiastic about the international part. That's why Last was limited to the latter for the next few appearances. In Tbilisi and Leningrad, the Soviet leadership accepted that, but in Moscow the power was cut off in the middle of the concert.

Great Britain

Last played for the first time in 1971 in Great Britain, with a small cast without a choir and strings in a former London cinema. The great response - there were five encores and all press reports spoke enthusiastically about the event - resulted in a renewed visit in 1973. This time the orchestra played with choir and strings in the rapidly sold-out Royal Albert Hall :

"On the black market you could perhaps get a ticket for the soccer World Cup final or an invitation to the Queen's Garden Party, but certainly not a ticket for a James Last concert."

- English newspaper report

In the course of time there were many more concerts and Last also celebrated his fiftieth, sixtieth and seventieth birthdays in the Royal Albert Hall. In total, James Last played with his orchestra 90 times in the Royal Albert Hall, most recently in April 2015.

“If you called and asked the Royal Albert Hall, can we get an appointment, then other appointments have been erased for James Last. In English it was always called we penciled , we wrote three or four other possible concerts in pencil. Then when the concert agent called and said we would like to play at the Royal Albert Hall, those "penned" entries were erased because James Last got the hall. "

- Bodo Eckmann

Last always had great success in Britain. Around 1967 four last albums were at the top of the charts at the same time. In contrast to Germany, James Last always found an organizer for Great Britain and was able to go on tour there almost every year, between 1971 and 1994 a total of 25 times. Every tour through Great Britain also included stops in Ireland.


James Last would have liked to take part in Alfred home's Japan tour in 1964, for which he had also arranged. At the time, however, it couldn't be set up. In 1968 the Polydor managers thought of supporting the LP Sekai Wa Futari No Tameni with concerts in Japan. But it would last until 1975 when a three-week stay in Japan preceded a trip to Australia. A four-week tour of Japan followed in 1979. The enormous costs for the large orchestra led to lengthy negotiations in advance; the strings were hired by the New Japan Symphony Orchestra. The tour went off with absolute perfection. They played in smaller halls than they were used to in Europe and started at 6:30 p.m. so that the audience could then use public transport. Last had prepared for reserved listeners. In fact, on the quieter tracks, everyone listened reverently while on the brisker ones they danced wildly, pausing in their seats at the end of the number.

World tours

The James Last Orchestra's first world tour took place in 1972. It ran through Johannesburg , Perth , Sydney , Melbourne , Brisbane and Adelaide . On the way back they visited Asia. During their second visit to Australia in 1975, the orchestra gave its first pop concert in the new Sydney Opera House . This time the journey continued via New Zealand to Hong Kong , Kuala Lumpur , Malaysia and Singapore . In 1980 they gave concerts in the Philippines on their third trip to Asia .

After negotiations for a tour through China had already failed, such a tour could finally begin in September 2002 with five concerts in Canton , Shanghai and Beijing .


Long negotiations preceded a visit to the GDR . It was not until 1987 that the orchestra was allowed to embark on a five-day trip. Last gave two concerts with his orchestra in Cottbus and Gera . In addition, in the Palace of the Republic in Berlin on three days five concerts with the traveling recording studio Rüsslmobil of Otto Waalkes were recorded and as a condensed version on LP, MC, CD, LD (Laser Disc) and video under the name Berlin Concert '87 few Days later came on the market. The television of the GDR broadcast one of these Berlin concerts in 1987 with a total length of approx. 150 minutes live, but with mono sound, while the stereo sound was broadcast on the radio at the same time. Last counted the recordings of the concert among the best live recordings of his orchestra. In 2004 this legendary concert was also released in a shortened version on DVD as a live in East Berlin .

The James Last Orchestra traveled a second time to the GDR in 1989, shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall. This time, in addition to the Palast der Republik, there were also two concerts with René Kollo in the Semperoper . The concerts in the Semperoper were recorded for television.

Changes in the strings

Last originally went on tour with double basses, cellos and violas, but then had to limit himself for cost reasons. This particularly affected the difficult to transport bass, which could be replaced by the synthesizer. The violas gave way to a richer violin sound with 16 instruments instead of the previous twelve violins and four violas. The cellos, on the other hand, could not be replaced electronically, but at least one could be taken back on the 2004 tour. A tour without strings would have been unimaginable. They were considered an important part of the load sound.

Chart successes in Germany

Last was able to place more albums in the German album charts than any other artist . Between 1965 and 2009, a total of 110 of his albums reached the hit list, 13 of which made it to first place in the German album charts .

Load of 3 × gold in Kiel (1970)

Sales successes


Album releases

Overview (selection)

  • There was only one once 1 (1963)
  • There was only one time 2 (1964)
  • Non Stop Dancing '65 (produced 1964) GK
  • Hammond à gogo (1965)
  • Non Stop Dancing '66 (1965)
  • Beat in Sweet (1965)
  • Ännchen von Tharau asks to dance (1966)
  • Trumpet à gogo (1966)
  • Hammond à gogo Vol. 2 (1966)
  • Instrumentals Forever (1966)
  • Classics up to Date (1966)
  • Non Stop Dancing '66 / II (1966)
  • Christmas Dancing (1966)
  • Wencke Myhre (1966)
  • Sax à gogo (1967)
  • Non Stop Dancing '67 (1967)
  • That's Life (1967)
  • Games That Lovers Play (1967)
  • Non Stop Dancing '67 / 2 (1967)
  • Trumpet à gogo Vol. 2 (1967)
  • James Last Presents George Walker (1967)
  • Piano à gogo (1968)
  • Guitar à gogo (1968)
  • Humba Humba à gogo (1968)
  • Non Stop Dancing '68 (1968)
  • Freddy Live (1968) (Live concert with Freddy Quinn) GK
  • Trumpet à gogo 3 (1968)
  • Non Stop Dancing 7 (1968)
  • A Round of Polydor (1968)
  • Rock Around With Me! (1968)
  • Captain James Asks for a Dance (1968)
  • Sekai Wa Futari No Tameni (1968) (only in Japan) GK
  • The Threepenny Opera - New Recording (3-LP-Box) (1968) GK
  • Non Stop Dancing 8 (1969)
  • Hammond à gogo 3 (1969)
  • Op klompen (1969)
  • Ännchen von Tharau asks to dance 2 (1969)
  • Hair (1969)
  • Non Stop Dancing 9 (1969)
  • When the moonlight sleeps sweetly on the hills (1969) (Soundtrack to the movie of the same name)
  • Happy Lehár (1969)
  • Non Stop Evergreens (1969)
  • Classics up to Date Vol. 2 (1969)
  • Onder moeders paraplu (1969)
  • Golden Non Stop Dancing 10 (anniversary edition as LP box) (1970) GK
  • Around The World (1970) (3-LP-Box)
  • Beach Party (1970)
  • America Album (Weissmuster - officially not released - no cover) (1970) GK
  • With compliments (1970)
  • Non Stop Dancing 11 (1970)
  • Captain James Asks a Dance - Episode 2 (1971)
  • In Scandinavia (1971)
  • Happyning (1971)
  • Non Stop Dancing 12 (1971)
  • Last of Old England (1971)
  • Beach Party 2 (1971)
  • Non Stop Dancing 1972 (1971) (Non Stop Dancing 13)
  • Polka Party (1971)
  • In Concert (1971)
  • Voodoo Party (1971)
  • When Elisabeth with ... James Last (1972)
  • Non Stop Dancing 1972/2 (1972)
  • Love Must Be the Reason (1972)
  • Beach Party 3 (1972)
  • Russia between day and night (1972)
  • Polka Party II (1972)
  • Non Stop Dancing 1973 (1972)
  • Classics (1973)
  • Sing With (1973)
  • Happy Hammond (1973)
  • Non Stop Dancing 1973/2 (1973)
  • Beach Party 4 (1973)
  • Christmas & James Last (1973)
  • Captain James on All Seas (1973)
  • Non Stop Dancing 1974 (1973)
  • Sing With 2 (1973)
  • In Vienna with wine (1974)
  • James Last Live (2 LP album) (1974) GK
  • Non Stop Dancing 1974/2 (1974)
  • Beach Party 5 (1974)
  • Polka Party 3 (1974)
  • Violins in Love (1974)
  • Classics Up To Date 3 (1974)
  • Sing With 3 (1975)
  • Non Stop Dancing 20 (2 LP album) (Re-recording of Non Stop Dancing '65 ) (1975) GK
  • In the Mood for Trumpets (1975)
  • Well Kept Secret (1975)
  • Tulips uit Amsterdam (1975)
  • Rock Me Gently (1975) (England and Canada only) GK
  • Beach Party 6 (1975)
  • Non Stop Dancing 1976 (1975)
  • Stars under the sign of a good star (1975) (some medleys with James Last) GK
  • Sing With 4 (1976)
  • Rejoice in Life (1976)
  • Happy Summer Night (1976)
  • Non Stop Dancing 1976/2 (1976)
  • Happy Marching (1976)
  • Classics up to Date 4 (1976)
  • Non Stop Dancing 1977 (1976)
  • Sing With 5 (1976)
  • Loads Off (1977)
  • James Last plays Robert Stolz (1977)
  • Non Stop Dancing 1977/2 (1977)
  • Western Party and Square Dance (1977)
  • Russia memories (1977)
  • Sing with 6 - from Hamburg to Mexico (1977)
  • Non Stop Dancing 78 - Episode 25 (1978)
  • Loads off - Episode 2 (1978)
  • Live in London (1978)
  • World Hits (1978)
  • Classics up to Date 5 (1978)
  • New Non Stop Dancing '79 (1978)
  • Copacabana - Happy Dancing (1979)
  • James Last and the Rolling Trinity (1979)
  • Non Stop Hansi (2 LP album for the 50th birthday, Not For Sale) (1979) GK
  • Walk in to the Polka Party (1979)
  • Paintings (1979) (Japan only)
  • A festive concert at Christmas time (1979)
  • The Non Stop Dancing Sound of the 80's (1979)
  • Sing with 7 - The party for the whole year (1980)
  • Last The Whole Night Long (2 LPs) (1980) GK
  • Romantic Dreams (1980)
  • Seduction (1980)
  • Caribbean Nights (1980)
  • Non Stop Dancing '81 (1980)
  • Roses from the South (1980)
  • The most beautiful melodies of the last 100 years (special edition “100 Years KARSTADT”) (1980) GK
  • Sing with 8 ... and off the fire department goes! (1981)
  • Ännchen von Tharau Asks You to Dream (1981)
  • Tango (1981)
  • Hansimania (1981)
  • Non Stop Dancing '82 - Hits Around The World (1982)
  • Sing with 9 - Let the Dolls Dance (1982)
  • Melodies of the Century (1982)
  • Biscay (1982)
  • Take Me With You, Captain James, (1982)
  • Bird of Paradise (1982)
  • Sing at 10 - we want fun! (1982)
  • Non Stop Dancing '83 - Party Power (1983)
  • Memories (1983)
  • James Last plays The Beatles' greatest songs (1983)
  • The Rose of Tralee (1983)
  • Superload (1983)
  • Classics up to Date Vol. 6 (1984)
  • James Last in the Allgäu (1984)
  • Paradiso (1984)
  • James Last in St. Patrick's Cathedral (1984)
  • James Last in Scotland (1984)
  • Non Stop Dancing '85 (1984)
  • Boundless sky blue (soundtrack to the ZDF television film of the same name) (1985) GK
  • For all! (1985)
  • Viva Vivaldi (1985)
  • Swing with (1985)
  • German Vita (1986)
  • James Last in Ireland (1986)
  • Plus (James Last & Astrud Gilberto) (1986)
  • Traumschiff-Melodies (soundtrack to the ZDF series Das Traumschiff ) (1986) GK
  • Everything has an end, only the sausage has two (1987)
  • James Last in Holland (1987)
  • James Last plays Bach (1987)
  • Berlin-Konzert '87 (Live-Concert in the Palace of the Republic - GDR) (1987) GK
  • The Berlin-Conzert '87 (live concert in the Palast der Republik - GDR) (1987) GK
  • Lorentz & Sons (soundtrack to the ZDF television series of the same name) (1988) GK
  • Flute Fiesta (James Last & Berdien Stenberg) (1988)
  • Dance, Dance, Dance (1988)
  • James Last plays Mozart (1988)
  • Happy Heart (for James Last's 60th birthday) (1989) GK
  • We're Playing Polka Again (1989)
  • Songs (James Last & René Kollo) (1989)
  • Classics by Moonlight (1990)
  • James Last in Holland 2 (1990)
  • Dream Melodies (James Last & Richard Clayderman) (1990)
  • Pop Symphonies (1991)
  • Serenades (James Last & Richard Clayderman) (1991)
  • Viva Espana (1992)
  • James Last in Holland 3 (1992)
  • Peace (1992)
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber's greatest musical hits (1993)
  • World hits in gold (2 CD album) (1994) GK
  • Christmas Eve (James Last & Engelbert) (1994)
  • Yours Is All My Heart (James Last & Milva) (1994)
  • In Harmony (James Last & Richard Clayderman) (1995)
  • Beach Party '95 (1995)
  • My Soul - Best of Motown (1995)
  • Classics from Russia (1996)
  • Macarena (1996)
  • Pop Symphonies 2 (1997)
  • Country Roads (1998)
  • The Best of Live on Tour (1998)
  • James Last & Friends (1998)
  • Happy Birthday (1999)
  • Concerts (1999)
  • The Gentleman of Music (2 CDs) (2000) GK
  • Ocean Drive (2001)
  • James Last Plays ABBA (2001)
  • A World of Music (2 CDs) (2002)
  • New Party Classics (2002)
  • Elements of James Last Vol.1 (2004)
  • They Call Me Hansi (2004)
  • The James Last Collection (4 CDs) (2005) GK
  • The most beautiful TV and movie melodies (2006)
  • Live In Europe 2004 (2 CDs) (2006) GK
  • Live In Europe (2 CDs) (2007) GK
  • Why Men Don't Listen and Women Park Badly (Soundtrack) (2007) GK
  • James Last in Los Angeles (original LP / MC / 8 track: Well Kept Secret from 1975) (2008) GK
  • James Last - Live at the Royal Albert Hall (2 CDs) (2008) GK
  • James Last - Live at the Royal Albert Hall (1 CD) (2008) GK
  • Eighty Not Out (2010)
  • 80 Greatest Hits (2010) GK
  • America Album (2012) (previously unreleased original recording from 1969)

Individual major albums and album series

Non stop dancing

James Last asked the Polydor's head of production, Heinz Voigt, to be allowed to make a long-playing record with dance music. He accepted and did not set any guidelines - so the party experiences of the Last couple led to their first album: Whenever they were invited somewhere, it always took a while for the mood to arise.

“These parties were on weekends when families met, people who knew each other professionally; that was the social climax. And when that failed because of the music, it was really bad because: The cheese hedgehogs were always the same! "

- Bodo Eckmann, doctor, temporary manager and friend of James Last

In this context, Last remembered listening to live music with his father on Radio Copenhagen at a young age with background noises, such as the rattle of china, and thought that something like this should be on record. You played the tape recording of the orchestra at a party, recorded the sounds, and then mixed the two together.

“A large circle of microphones was set up around which they were grouped, and two large loudspeakers were set up to feed the production. And reasonably loud, so that the mood was not neglected either. "

- Tommmy Eggert, band member from 1975 to 2015

“And the audience consisted of dance schools, friends, acquaintances, members of the musicians' band - so the hall was full! Drinks were served, free, there was also alcohol with them. "

- Bodo Eckmann

This made it possible to completely dispense with breaks. If a change of rhythm was necessary, the party noises were used to bridge the gap and the result was called Non Stop Dancing '65 .

Last selected international hits, including several Beatles titles . He always combined three titles into a potpourri , with each title lasting a maximum of one minute and 45 seconds. These two requirements had to be complied with in order to keep the GEMA fees low. Since the jazz musicians in the NDR dance orchestra were generally still suspicious of the Beatles and did not play their songs, Last was the first to play the Beatles music in the big band sound. The English lyrics were left out, there was only a “Lalala choir”, which meant that the older generation could also be addressed.

Both background noises and music selection ensured an unexpectedly great success, after which the series Non Stop Dancing was continued annually, sometimes even every six months. Each issue reliably sold around 250,000 to 400,000 times in two months. The music was often so up-to-date that the tape was only finished on time for the start of production of the record.

Hammond à gogo

For the second album, Polydor requested the use of a Hammond organ. James Last was not very enthusiastic about this, but played something with two organs, one on the right and one on the left for the stereo effect. He then shared his wife's opinion, who thought the result was excellent bar music. The record sold very well and was actually often played in bars. Last took over the double bass himself for the recording, his brother Robert played the drums and the two Hammond organs Hermann Hausmann, a pianist from the NDR, and Günter Platzek , who became a long-time member of the James Last orchestra.

The title Hammond à gogo alludes to the popular at the time ordering a whole bottle of whiskey, which the landlord then kept for further visits, which was called whiskey à gogo. It was later followed by the similar titles Trumpet à gogo , Sax à gogo , Piano à gogo , Guitar à gogo and Humba Humba à gogo , the latter being drinking songs. Hammond à gogo was the first album to be named James Last in shadow script.

Ännchen von Tharau asks to dance

This album was dedicated to folk songs at the request of Polydor. With Ännchen von Tharau asks for a dance , the load activities in the marketing department were divided: there was now the “party load” and the “folk load”, the “elegant load” and the “international load”. Ännchen von Tharau begs for dance was published under the name of choir and orchestra Hans Last , and consequently it did not have the shadow script that was only used in Ännchen von Tharau begs for dance 2 .

Trumpet à gogo

The first three albums by Trumpet à gogo were among Last's favorite works . They contained all the titles he had once played in American clubs, and were all very light-footed, sometimes a little Latin American.

Sekai Wa Futari

First, Polydor asked Japan for a special album for their country. Many German musicians had already had success there, especially Werner Müller and Alfred Heimat . So an LP called Sekai Wa Futari (The world belongs to lovers) was proposed. It was Japanese pop music, although Last still knew from his work on Alfred home's Japan tour how it was to be arranged, namely with an imposing soft string sound. Sekai Wa Futari is a particularly rare album today.

The Threepenny Opera

James Last was not particularly impressed by the request for a complete recording of the Threepenny Opera . He thought Kurt Weill's music was more predictable than outstanding, but then he had ideas for implementation. His work led to a difference of opinion with Lotte Lenya , Weill's widow, who did not want to release the rights because an electric bass was supposed to replace the acoustic bass. But she could be convinced that the work would not be damaged. Important actors and singers were involved in the recording, namely Hannes Messemer as Mackie Messer, Helmut Qualtinger as Peachum, Karin Baal as Polly, Martin Held as London police chief, Hanne Wieder as Dunk Jenny, Hans Clarin as a beggar and Franz Josef Degenhardt as a morality singer . The album, consisting of three long-playing records , won the German Record Prize .

Classics up to date

At the suggestion of Polydor International, the positive experiences with the Threepenny Opera led to the Classics UpTo date series , for which James Last arranged classical works. Last took the main theme from the respective work. He used fewer instruments, gave the strings new notes in some places and then added a soft rhythm. Increasingly sophisticated works demanded over the years a growing occupation, such as the Symphonie Fantastique by Hector Berlioz a full symphony orchestra. With the classical albums, a choir was also used, which only hummed along and had no text. He supported the strings and gave the sound more warmth. It was about the Bergedorfer Kammerchor , 40 amateurs under the direction of Hellmut Wormsbächer , whom Last had met while recording a Christmas album with Freddy Quinn. The albums also found customers who would not have bought a pure classical record. Almost without exception, they were each sold over a million times, but over a long period of time.

James Last Op Klompen

As the second Polydor overseas branch after Japan, the Dutch branch asked for a special album. In Op clogs it was Dutch folk songs that were similar arranged like on the Ännchen-of-Tharaw record. With 250,000 copies sold, the record was such a great success that people even asked about it in Germany and it was finally included in the program there, although the songs were largely unknown. Four more Dutch albums followed by 1992, all of which achieved gold or even platinum status. The appearance at the show Grand Gala du Disque in 1969 was followed by numerous other appearances on local television, which resulted in continued popularity.

With In Scandinavia and Last of Old England , corresponding albums were created for Scandinavia and Great Britain, which also achieved gold status.


The musical Hair liked load so much that he brought out a whole album with all the songs of the musical. In the studio they experimented with numerous sound effects, which is why this work represents a milestone in the development of the band.

Beach party

Around 1970 some of the band's musicians were given permanent jobs at NDR, so they had to be replaced. Last took the opportunity to take a more international direction through the engagement of foreign musicians. In addition, a second choir with singers selected in London was put together. Beachparty was the first LP in this changed line-up . From Beach Party six issues appeared. Some record sleeves showed pictures of Last's summer vacation beach parties on Sylt. The "modern choir albums" included Voodoo Party , Happyning , Love Must Be The Reason . They appeared just like Beach Party under the name James Last and Company .

After a long break, a choir album was released again in 1994 with My Soul . It was supposed to celebrate the takeover of Motown Records by Polydor with old Motown titles, but was not advertised, as it turned out that the rights to the titles were not with Polydor and thus the profit margin would have been lower. At Beach Party '95 the James Last Choir sang with gospel singers from Florida. A single under the name Word United could only be accommodated in the programming of some north German radio stations until the record company revealed that it was the James Last Orchestra.

With compliments

In the autumn of 1969, Last was invited to the fourth Festival Internacional de Cancāo Popular to participate in the jury, which included Henry Mancini , Francis Lai , Ray Conniff and Paul Simon . Over 2,000 songs from 40 countries had to be evaluated, the winner was determined by a final in the Maracanã stadium in front of over 100,000 spectators. Last summarized the impressions of this engagement in Brazil in the album With Compliments . The album contained the winning track Cantiga por Luciana by Jimmy Webb and the crowd favorite Evie by Bill Medley, as well as an old winning track with Andanca ; also some original compositions. Last recorded With Compliments with a large orchestra.

sing with me

Sing mit corresponded to the non-stop dancing albums, but only used German lyrics so that many listeners could sing along. Instead of international pop music, German hits were used. The origin of this series lay in the LP Voodoo Party , which was presented in February 1972 with a concert without seats, and since it was carnival, people asked to appear in disguise. The great success of this party called for a repetition in the following year and the "Sing mit '" records were specially created, ten issues of which were always released during Carnival time. The parties in the Ernst-Merck-Halle in Hamburg began at 8 p.m. and did not end until 4 a.m. the next morning. They took place up to three times in a row and were always sold out with 7,000 guests. Last half-hourly took turns with a guest star, including Baccarat and Mr. Acker Bilk . The parties took place at times in Dortmund , Innsbruck , Cologne and Munich . A guest appearance by the Bückeburg hunters is reminiscent of Last's origins. Trumpeter Derek Watkins also made his first appearance with the band at a sing-along party . Watkins took on many solo parts and became one of the most important members of the band.

Well Kept Secret

Well Kept Secret was completely different from an ordinary last album.

“The titles are clearly different from what was previously known from James Last from Europe. It has a jazz touch, it's rhythmically much harder. "

- Mike von Winterfeldt, at the time of recording at Polydor USA

Last wanted to come up with new ideas with this experiment in 1975 and get out of the rut in Studio Hamburg for once. It was a work that was created entirely in the USA with musicians there.

"He immediately had connections with the musicians, he spoke the right language, musical language with them."

- Mike von Winterfeldt

Last selected tracks that he figured had a good chance of being played on major US radio stations. Although the album was released with an expensive campaign, had an elaborately designed record sleeve and the critics were taken with it, it did not achieve the sales figures they had hoped for. And for the German market it tended too much in the direction of jazz, one expected something different from Last. In any case, Polydor Germany could not get excited about a work that was not completely under its own control.

The album was re-released in 2008 under the name James Last in Los Angeles .

Russia memories

The lonely shepherd was originally intended for the album Filmmusik ohne Films , which was to contain onlyoriginalcompositions. But nothing came of it, so that the title ended up on the second Russia LP called Russia Memories . Last hadheard Gheorghe Zamfir and his gypsy orchestra in the Hamburg music hall, as they were under contract with the same tour operator. This gave rise to the idea of ​​having the lonely shepherd play the pan flute, which Zamfir managed to do surprisingly quickly. Since Gheorghe Zamfir was under contract with another record company, it was agreed that the rights for the single Phonogram and for the long-playing record Polydor received. Zamfir had already released records in many countries and was now experiencing his breakthrough. He then went on tour with Last in 1978.

As early as 1979, The Lonely Shepherd was the theme song for the six-part television series The Gold of the Desert (Golden Soak) . With a delay of 25 years, The Lonely Shepherd turned into a film music after all; Quentin Tarantino used it for his film Kill Bill: Vol. 1 . The associated DVD incorrectly identifies Gheorghe Zamfir as the producer of the title.


After Well kept secret, Seduction was the second album entirely in the USA. Giorgio Moroder had composed a soundtrack for the film American Gigolo , the main theme of which was The Seduction . James Last composed eight tracks around it with his son Ron, recording the main theme first in New York and then the rest at Sound Lab Studios in Los Angeles , each with excellent studio musicians, including Slyde Hyde , who played the tuba on Supertramp's Breakfast in America had played. Although the single made it into the top 30 of the US charts, one could not speak of a great success.


The track number of the album Biscaya is one of Last's greatest successes. It is the first accordion album and the first to be largely recorded in Florida. In addition, electronic sound effects were increasingly common, as Last wanted to develop his music further.

Biscaya is inextricably linked with Jo Ment , who already knew Last from their time together at NDR. He originally played the saxophone in the James Last Orchestra, but quickly began to record records in a similar style at Teldec himself and thus became a competitor despite the friendship. He did not return until 1980, this time with the bandoneon , which he played with virtuosity.

Another accordion album, Paradiso , came out two years later . Last even played some tracks on it himself. He treated the accordion like a piano; the instrument was on a table and two people were moving the bellows.

Tommy Eggert in particular introduced the synthesizer to the James Last Orchestra. Tommy was a school friend of Last's son Ron and had experimented with electronic instruments from a young age. In 1977 he received a call from Last asking if he could come into the studio with his Mini Moog , they needed an electronic effect. This cooperation was then expanded more and more.

James Last in Scotland

With the album James Last in Scotland , Last reproduced the impressions that the orchestra gained on its journeys during numerous tours through Scotland.

Dream melodies

Richard Clayderman and Last first met in 1981 on the Show Express; at this point, however, cooperation was not yet possible. But after Clayderman had changed his record label, Polydor suggested a joint album with the argument that Last was successful in Great Britain and Clayderman in France, together they could rock each other.

Last and the two Clayderman producers Oliver Toussaint and Paul de Senneville created twelve tracks for the album Dream Melodies , released in 1990 . It sold so well that serenades followed just a year later .

James Last Plays ABBA

The "sound of the 21st century", as presented by James Last Plays ABBA 2001 and New Party Classics, was controversial among fans . But Last really wanted to play something in this modern style that works without reverb. The tones were picked up directly on the instruments.

They Call Me Hansi

For Last's 75th birthday, his record company was planning an album that would unite different styles and artists from several generations. Last went back to the early sixties, producing a wide variety of singers. However, the project turned out to be complicated. Elton John and Sting dropped out on legal grounds, but Orange Blue and Laith Al-Deen didn't like the record company. So it went with many suggestions, but in the end a colorful mix came out with Herbert Grönemeyer , Jan Delay , RZA , Tom Jones , Nina Hagen , Xavier Naidoo , Hayley Westenra , Luciano Pavarotti , whose contribution was not allowed to be published in all countries , and Till Brönner . Also included on the record is Elvis Presley , entitled Fool , written by Last . Despite the extensive production, the album did not sell particularly well.

More successful compositions

Theme melodies and film music

Last's very well-known original compositions include the signature tunes from Radio Luxemburg (“Happy Luxemburg”), the ZDF hit parade and the television series Der Landarzt , Das Traumschiff and Zwei Münchner in Hamburg . On TV total , Happy Music was used as background music in various clips.

Furthermore, the background music of German feature films should be mentioned, especially in Mornings at seven the world is still in order (1968) and When sweetly the moonlight sleeps on the hills (1969) as well as in Der Kapitän (1971) with Heinz Rühmann . Last also wrote the score for the hit film Schwarzwaldfahrt aus Liebeskummer with Roy Black in the lead role.

In 2007 Constantin-Film Last chose to produce the entire soundtrack for the comedy Why Men Don't Listen and Women Badly Park (director: Leander Haussmann ). All of the songs were composed by Last, and the title song The Little Difference was sung by the young German chanson singer Annett Louisan . The press unanimously praised the score.

Games That Lovers Play

Games That Lovers Play has become one of Last's internationally most successful compositions . The title was initially unpublished. Last later converted the vocal parts into trumpets and released the piece as One Whole Night . It then became a hit with Billy May . He and his singer Eddie Fisher heard the title by chance during studio recordings and the two decided to ask Eddie Snyder for an English text for it and to record it. The title became a major success in this version with over 100 cover versions.

Happy heart

Last had already thrown the composition Happy Heart in the trash. But after his wife discovered her while she was cleaning up, she encouraged him to publish the piece. Happy Heart developed into a world hit sang by Andy Williams , Petula Clark and Peggy March , among others .


Web links

Commons : James Last  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Television documentary

James Last - Around the World with Happy Music, Author: Thomas Macho, 45 Min., NDR, 2019

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Margalit Fox: James Last, Bandleader Known for 'Happy Sound,' Dies at 86. In: The New York Times . June 12, 2015, accessed June 12, 2015 .
  2. ^ Rainer Schmidt-Walk, Product Manager Polydor in Stranger in the Night - The Bert Kaempfert Story , Documentary 2003.
  3. A musical family home - The James Last Story ( Memento of the original from November 23, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , Radio Bremen @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.radiobremen.de
  4. a b c d e My Life , Chapter 1: Hänschen Klein
  5. a b My Life , Chapter 1: Radio Days
  6. GoldStar TV congratulates James Last on his 80th birthday ( Memento from June 6, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  7. a b c My Life , Chapter 1: School days under the swastika
  8. James Last Story - Young Sagittarius Last while practicing the piano
  9. a b James Last Story - Vitamins for the Evil Game
  10. My Life , Chapter 1: All that Jazz
  11. James Last Story - First own orchestra
  12. a b c d James Last Story - First impressions at NWDR / Hamburg
  13. http://www.bonedo.de/artikel/einzelansicht/blog-farewell-hansi-ein-nachruf-auf-james-last.html
  14. My Life , Chapter 1: My Drug
  15. Songs for adults on discogs ("Hans Last carried the whole burden of the arrangements" on the back of the record cover)
  16. a b c James Last Story - The sound makes the music
  17. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p James Last - With Happy Music around the world , television documentary
  18. James Last Story - My name was taken from (me)
  19. a b c My Life , Chapter 2: The Beatles' New Clothes
  20. a b My Life , Chapter 2: Two boys from the Waterkant
  21. Jump up ↑ My Life , Chapter 8: One Kind of Dinosaur
  22. a b c d My Life , Chapter 3: Beach Party
  23. a b c My Life , Chapter 9: New Tones
  24. a b c My Life , Chapter 3: Tempo Rush
  25. Music legend James Last buried in the family grave in Ohlsdorf. In: Hamburger Abendblatt from June 30, 2015, p. 7. Author abbreviation: schmoo.
  26. My Life , Chapter 8: The Big Broke
  27. ^ Peter Klemt in Stranger in the Night - The Bert Kaempfert Story , documentary film 2003
  28. a b My Life , Chapter 5: Island Memories
  29. a b c d My Life , Chapter 2: Happy Sound
  30. a b My Life , Chapter 2: Studio Hamburg
  31. My Life , Chapter 4: Around the world
  32. James Last Story - A gag becomes part of the program
  33. My Life , Appendix: The Lord of Thread
  34. My Life , Chapter 3: Rockers in the Heath
  35. James Last Story - The rally that leads to Fintel
  36. a b My Life , Chapter 3: Canadian Load Fever - and its Consequences
  37. My Life , Chapter 4: Comrade Njet
  38. James Last: Big band leader dies at 86 , bbc.co.uk
  39. My Life , Chapter 5: Rule Britannia
  40. My Life , Chapter 5: Toshi San
  41. My Life , Chapter 4: South of the Equator
  42. James Last: Record holder in the charts with 110 albums. officialcharts.de, June 10, 2015
  43. Facts & Figures - James Last. (No longer available online.) In: jameslast.com. Archived from the original on September 23, 2012 ; Retrieved September 24, 2012 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.jameslast.com
  44. a b c d e My Life , Chapter 2: Jukebox à gogo
  45. ^ Whiskey à Gogo , Die Zeit
  46. a b My Life , Chapter 2: Maestro Up To Date
  47. My Life , Chapter 3: New Faces in the Last Family
  48. My Life , Chapter 4: Sing With: The Superfetuses
  49. a b My Life , Chapter 6: Made in USA
  50. a b My Life , Chapter 4: Hits & Flops
  51. http://www.musicvf.com/James+Last.art
  52. My Life , Chapter 9: The Sound of the 21st Century
  53. My Life , Chapter 9: Play a little bit of poly ...
  54. Please laugh , Der Spiegel, November 26, 2007, p. 172
  55. Greetings from Neanderthal , Die Welt, November 29, 2007, p. 29
  56. And the woman beckons forever , Frankfurter Rundschau, 29 November 2007, p. 33
  57. We are innocent, it was the half-monkey , Stuttgarter Zeitung, November 29, 2007, p. 37.