Did you ever wonder what one-hit artists are up to today? Most of the times we find them playing in a dirty old nightclub somewhere, struggling to build on their prior success, or just quietly living off their royalties. But sometimes these overnight stars also take unforeseen career paths, years after they’ve burned out as musicians. Within the next weeks, I will introduce you to some of these former chart-toppers of all different times and we will find out how the years have treated them.
Falco, whose real name was Johann (Hans) Hölzel, was born in Austria on February 19, 1957, and in his controversial career as a singer and rapper, he had one worldwide hit in the year 1985: “Rock me Amadeus”. After numerous top positions in the European Charts, it rose to the top ten of the U.S. Billboard charts and finally reached #1 in early 1986, which previously wasn’t achieved by any other german-speaking artist. Overall, the song sold about seven million copies worldwide. Today “Rock me Amadeus” is seen as the first commercially successful rap song of a white rapper.
Coming from Austria, he was the great white hope for us to finally get our music going again, since ironically there wasn’t really much happening since Wolfgang A. Mozart passed away over 200 years ago. Unfortunately the day is still yet to come. For Falco the unexpected success had its downsides, since the bar was set too high, he doubted whether he could ever again build on this success. “Rock Me Amadeus” was so popular that literally no one remembers the follow-up “Vienna Calling”, a catchy song which also hit a respectable #18 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1986. In the 1990s, Falco drew attention only by his heavy alcohol and drug abuse. After struggling getting his life back together, Falco died in February 1998 in a car accident near Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic.
Today Falco and “Rock Me Amadeus” pretty much disappeared from the worldwide scene. Every now and then it appears in parodies and comics as in “Weird Al” Yankovic or The Simpsons. In Austria, he is still seen as the greatest pop star of all times and local newspapers still see him as: “Falco – the Viennese, who saw music heaven”. In the end Falco’s eternal one-hit wonder status seems pretty unfair, given his contribution to European popular music and german Hip-Hop. But that is maybe common fate in terms of one-hit wonders.