Sometime around 1981 or ‘82 I was watching The Old Grey Whistle Test on BBC2 when I was totally taken aback by the outlandish appearance of one of the singers in a music video being shown. It was Klaus Nomi singing Total Eclipse and I watched in fascination only to be completely blown away by the astounding vocal range of this artist. I was hooked; here was a truly unique musical experience for a teenager who was expanding his musical tastes. I needed to find out more, but in those days, pre-internet, in a small coastal British town it was not easy to do. I relied, like most adolescents of the time, on radio and TV music shows, hoping to be able to tape or video anything I could get my hands on.
Over the decades that song stuck with me, and I have gone back to it periodically, along with Nomi Song and Simple Man. Klaus Nomi had a great career opening up for him in the early eighties, but it was not to blossom into the mainstream consciousness as he became an early victim of complications due to AIDS. He died in 1983, at the age of 39.
In the 80s, to me he seemed the epitome of outrageous, without actually being overt in the way that punk had been. In fact, it was the way he casually dropped in and out of the countertenor register seemed truly outrageous to me.
It would have been marvelous to see what he would have been able to create had he lived longer and what further influences he would have had on today’s artists.
Happy Birthday, Simple Man!