Alphaville is a German New Wave band which gained popularity in the 1980s. The band was at first named "Forever Young" before being changed to "Alphaville". They achieved chart success with the singles "Big in Japan", "Jet Set", "Dance With Me" and "Forever Young".
The founding members were lead singer Marian Gold (real name: Hartwig Schierbaum, born 26 May 1954 in Herford, North Rhine-Westphalia), Bernhard Lloyd (real name: Bernhard Gössling, born 2 June 1960 in Enger, North Rhine-Westphalia), and Frank Mertens (real name: Frank Sorgatz, born 26 October 1961 in Enger, North Rhine-Westphalia).
Alphaville formed in early 1982, when Marian Gold and Bernhard Lloyd met at the music project Nelson Community. Many 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, produced by Colin Pearson, Wolfgang Loos and Andreas Budde. Despite its success, Frank Mertens left the band that year and was replaced in January 1985 by Ricky Echolette (born Wolfgang Neuhaus, in Cologne on 6 August 1960), who was credited on the Afternoons in Utopia album. Forever Young on the surface, is a hopeful song celebrating the virtues of youth, but a closer listen reveals a fear of aging and death. The song was written during the Cold War, where the singer is "hoping for the best, but expecting the worst; are you gonna drop the bomb or not?"
"Big in Japan" was Alphaville's biggest hit, topping the charts in Germany, Greece, Switzerland, Sweden, Turkey, Venezuela, and the US 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 No. 8. "'Big In Japan' tells about a couple of lovers trying to get off Heroin. They both imagine how great it would be to love without the drug: no steal, no clients, no ice age in the pupil, real emotions, true worlds. Till nowadays Berlin station Zoo is an important meeting place for junkies. That's why this place became a venue of the song."
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, remained an album cut in the US. She performed 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 No. 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, 2005 and 2009. Several covers have been recorded featuring male or female vocalists
In 1986, their second album, Afternoons in Utopia, was released and its first single "Dance With Me" was a Top 20 hit in Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, South Africa and in remix form on the US Hot Maxi Singles chart. It reached the Top 30 in Austria, Italy and in the US Club Play chart. The album's second single was "Universal Daddy". For their third single, the band released "Jerusalem" in Germany only, while they went with "Sensations" for Austria, France, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. The final single from Afternoons in Utopia was "Red Rose", in 1987.
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,
The next album, Prostitute, was not released until 1994. The first single released was "Fools", followed by the second and last single from the album, "The Impossible Dream". During the tour for this album Robbie France briefly joined the band on drums. In 1997, Ricky Echolette left the band.
Salvation, a back-to-the-roots opus, followed in 1997.
Dreamscapes is a limited edition eight-CD set of rare Alphaville recordings, released in 1999. It features 124 tracks with a total playing time of around 9.5 hours. 43 of the songs had never been available before, and all of the remainder had been remixed.The four double CDs were packaged in a large (A4-sized) box, and accompanied by a large 64-page booklet, containing lyrics, rare photographs and original short fiction. Inside the box were 4 double-CDs, the cover of each was 1/4 of the overall box art.
A promotional copy called "Visions of Dreamscapes" was released to accompany the album.
Stark Naked and Absolutely Live was released in 2000, The tracks on Stark Naked and Absolutely Live were recorded specifically for the purpose of creating the album. The final listed track, Apollo, is followed by a hidden track: an acoustic version of "Dance with Me"
In 2001, they released both their remix album Forever Pop and a DVD entitled Little America, which documented two concerts performed in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
Bernhard Lloyd did not contribute to the 2003 limited-edition album CrazyShow, and shortly after its release on 18 March 2003, he officially left the group. The core stage members of Alphaville then were Gold and new recruits, Martin Lister (keyboards), David Goodes (guitars) and Jakob Kiersch (drums).
Catching Rays on Giant
The album Catching Rays on Giant, the first commercial studio album in 13 years, was released on 19 November 2010 and entered the official German album charts at number 9 in its first week of release.
So80s presents Alphaville is a compilation album released in October 2014. The release includes all of their original 12-inch 1980's maxi-singles and their respective B-sides, many for the first time on CD in their original form.
Martin Lister died unexpectedly on 21 May 2014. The news was announced by the band, via their Facebook page and Yahoo mailing list, a few days later. He was replaced by Carsten Brocker.
Strange Attractor was released on 7 April 2017 after an extremely long production time, with a video for the single "Heartbreak City". In August 2017
On 25–26 May 2018, Alphaville and Marian Gold played two nights at the Whisky a Go Go club inHollywood. The two concerts were also live streamed.
On 15 March 2019, the album Forever Young was remastered for the 35th anniversary.
In 2021 Alphaville teamed up with Schiller and released a new version of "Summer in Berlin" as Schiller x Alphaville.
On 7 May 2021, the albums Afternoons in Utopia and The Breath Taking Blue were remastered after the successful reissue of the album "Forever Young"
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 colourful art in the form of paintings and sculptures, and etheric poetry. This project was abandoned, though, as Mertens has not been visibly active with it.