The American Bill Ramsey was a jazz singer, but in Germany and especially Hesse he became a pop star. Only later, as a radio presenter, did he indulge his true passion. Now he is celebrating his 90th birthday.
The man could sing, no question about it. But what he sang was perhaps a touch too foreign, too American for the average German ear in the 1950s. Jazz and blues did not reach the masses during the economic miracle. They certainly wanted to smell the scent of the wide world, but preferred to do so in homeopathic doses.
And so the jazz singer Bill Ramsey, who is highly valued in musical circles, became a veritable pop star, who sang the “sugar doll from the belly dance troupe”, “souvenirs” or “Pigalle (The Little Mousetrap)” with a charming accent or let the listeners know that they were Mimi never goes to bed without a crime story ․
Significantly, it was the idea of a German jazz pianist to turn the young American from Cincinnati, who had come to Germany and Frankfurt as a soldier and performed there in the jazz cellar, into a pop star. Heinz Gietz belonged to the legendary Hotclub Sextett, one of the most important ensembles in the early days of Frankfurt’s jazz history, but had noticed early on that jazz might bring applause, but it wasn’t selling as well as pop music. And so he let talents like Caterina Valente or Bill Ramsey sing not exactly challenging, but all the more lucrative songs.
He was also active as a musician, whether with his own swing and jazz programs or as a much-acclaimed guest on the “Swing Legenden” tours with Max Greger and Hugo Strasser. His encyclopedic knowledge, especially about swing, he has been expressing regularly since the late eighties in the program “Swingtime” on the radio wave hr2-kultur of the Hessischer Rundfunk, which led many fans to believe that Bill Ramsey lived in Frankfurt.
He had only lived there in the early days and was even room neighbor of Rosemarie Nitribitt for a while in a guesthouse before he moved to Zurich for many years, then lived in Wiesbaden and finally found his home in Hamburg from 1991 onwards. He traveled to “Swingtime”, which was broadcast until March 1, 2019, before Ramsey gave up the moderation for reasons of age, and thus remained connected to the city where the career of an American jazz singer who became a German pop star began . This singer can celebrate his 90th birthday on Saturday.