Rio Reiser (9 January 1950 – 20 August 1996), was a German rock musician and singer of rock group Ton Steine Scherben. He was born Ralph Christian Möbius in Berlin and died at the age of 46 in Fresenhagen, Germany. Rio Reiser supported squatting in the early 1970s and later the green political party Die Grünen. After German reunification, he joined the Party of Democratic Socialism.
While he still went to school, Reiser became singer in his first rock band The Beat Kings. The band had been founded by R.P.S. Lanrue (real name Ralph Peter Steitz), a boy living in the neighbourhood, who had heard of Reiser's singing talents and had asked him to join the band after letting Reiser perform a few songs to give a sample (as R.P.S. Lanrue later claimed in an interview, the Rolling Stones song "Play with fire" tipped the balance). Lanrue, who was of the same age as Reiser, soon became Reiser's closest friend and musical counterpart who went on to support Reiser as musician and lived with him most of the time until his death.
After having quit school, Reiser left his then hometown, as well as The Beat Kings, to follow his two older brothers' call to Berlin in order to compose the music for their common project, the first Beat-Opera, which turned out to be, in the words of Rio, an "absolute flop". Nevertheless, Reiser stayed in Berlin, where he was later joined by Lanrue.
After occasionally having toured the countryside with the theatre group "Hoffmans Comic Theater" (consisting in Reiser, his brothers and a group of friends), Reiser went on to continue theatrical projects in Berlin where he joined an improvisation theatre group which played scenes from the everyday life of pupils and trainees, thus adopting and reflecting the social problems among young people in West Berlin in the Sixties, as well as its tense and sense of imminent social change. The theatre was very successful with young people and toured through Germany until 1969. The involvement in the context of the student and youth movement—not only as musician and actor, but often in the political debates which were to follow the theatre performance as well, played an important role for Rio Reiser's development of political awareness and for his lifelong commitment—both privately and as musician—to liberation movements of various kinds, including, in particular, the left-wing political movement characteristic for the Sixties and Seventies (while he liked to put an emphasis on supporting the workers' and "simple people's" interests rather than the students' intellectual approach), the Gay liberation movement and later, the German ecological movement. His musical work to a large extent reflects these political influences and convictions and thus can hardly be detached from his political positions.
In 1970, Reiser recorded his first single with the band Ton Steine Scherben. The band name was chosen in a lengthy democratic decision procedure among the members, friends and supporters of the band. The original name idea was actually "VEB Ton Steine Scherben", but the "VEB" was soon dropped. The band name can be translated both as "clay stones shards" and as "sound stones shards", thus offering different approaches to interpretation (sometimes also understood as a political program) and, last not least, making reference to Reiser's favorites The Rolling Stones. In that same year the group performed their first public concert and recorded their first full-length record.
The band soon became very popular with the squatter scene, left-wing student and workers' movement and was invited to numerous political events to provide the soundtrack to demonstrations, parties and rallies across Germany which often inspired the audience to translate the message into action afterwards. Thus, many buildings were seized after the end of a concert, and the band often ended up sitting in some commune discussing the political agenda with their hosts. Reiser later revealed in his autobiography that he sometimes would have preferred to just get away with some nice person.
Ton Steine Scherben were musically very successful and, being one of the first rock bands in Germany which actually wrote and performed German rock songs, opened the door for countless successful German rock and pop bands to follow. Due to their refusal to adapt to the demands of the mainstream music business, as well as to financial mismanagement, a certain "outlawish" image in the eyes of the large radio and TV stations and a fan community which often forgot that the band had to make a living out of the music and would have despised any commercial ambitions, they were not able to translate their musical success and widespread popularity into financial stability.
"Auswahl I" was a compilation featuring some classic Ton Steine Scherben songs, released on their David Volksmund Produktion-label. The track "Keine Macht für niemand" was re-recorded for this 1981 compilation, the other tracks are original versions.
|A1||Warum Geht Es Mir So Dreckig||5:04|
|A2||Mein Name Ist Mensch||6:27|
|A3||Rauch Haus Song||3:35|
|A4||Macht Kaputt Was Euch Kaputt Macht||3:39|
|B1||Wenn Die Nacht Am Tiefsten ...||3:30|
|B2||Halt Dich An Deiner Liebe Fest||6:00|
|B5||Keine Macht Für Niemand||4:35|
Ton Steine Scherben - Auswahl I - 1970 - 1981
(192 kbps, cover art included)