#668: Afrikaan Beat by Bert Kaempfert
Peak Month: February 1962
8 weeks on CKWX’s Vancouver Charts
Peak Position ~ #5
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #42
In 1923, Berthold Heinrich Kaempfert was born in a village suburb of Hamburg, Germany, called Barmbeck. He learned piano, clarinet, accordion and saxophone during his childhood and youth. He had years of private music lessons at Wilhelm Witt’s private music school in Wilhelmsburg. He later studied at Die Musikschule HAMBURG (Hamburg School of Music). Kaempfert’s career began when his mother used a $285 insurance payment to buy a piano. Prior to the outbreak of World War II, while still 15 years of age, Kaempfert was hired to play with Hans Busch and his Orchestra. He was the youngest member of the band. But once Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, Kaempfert, along with all able-bodied young men, were drafted into the German military. Kaempfert became a bandsman in the German Navy, initially playing on the Island of Salt on the Wadden Sea. In 1945, Kaempfert formed a band comprised of prisoners-of-war in Denmark. After the war ended, Kaempfert moved back to Hamburg. He was employed at the Esplanade Hotel and his performances were broadcast at the nearby British Forces Network. In 1959 Bert Kaempfert arranged and produced Die Gitarre und das Meer (The guitar and the sea) for Austrian Freddy Quinn. Quinn had recorded a German-language version of Dean Martin’s big hit in 1955, “Memories Are Made of This.” In 1959 Bert Kaempfert arranged and produced Die Gitarre und das Meer was a big seller in Germany in 1959.