Udo Juergens, an Austrian-born star who dominated pop music in the German-speaking world and sold more than 100 million records in a career spanning five decades, died on Sunday. He was 80 years old.
Juergens collapsed unconscious during a walk in Gottlieben, a town on Lake Constance north of Zurich, Switzerland, and was taken to a hospital where he died of heart failure 4:25 p.m., according to a statement on his website posted by his management company Freddy Burger Management.
Germany’s minister for culture, Monika Gruetters, called Juergens a gifted composer and singer. “In Udo Juergens we have lost an exceptional artist,” Gruetters said in a statement.
Juergens was recognized for bringing piano artistry and clever, introspective lyrics to German “Schlager” (hit) songs. He burst onto the scene in the 1960s with a number of catchy tunes and later infusing his music with a growing social consciousness.
His early career took off after a series of impressive performances in the annual Eurovision Song Contest during the mid-1960s, culminating in his 1966 victory for Austria with “Merci, Cherie” (“Thanks, Darling”).
“Warum nur, warum” became a No. 1 hit in France. “Walk Away,” an English-language version sung by Matt Monroe, went to No. 1 in Britain and No. 2 in the United States, selling 1.5 million records.
Monroe then bought the English rights to “Sag’ ihr…,” (“Tell her…”) producing the worldwide hit “Without You.”