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11 March 1955

Catharina 'Nina' Hagen's parents are Hans Hagen (also known as Hans Oliva), a scriptwriter, and Eva-Maria Hagen, an actress and singer. Her paternal Jewish grandparents died in Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Her parents divorced when she was two years old. At age four, she began to study ballet, and was considered an opera prodigy by the time she was nine. When Hagen was 11, her mother married Wolf Biermann, an anti-establishment singer-songwriter. Biermann's political views incalculably influenced young Hagen: she was 'dishonorably discharged' from the so-called 'Free German Youth' group at age 12, and active in political protests against the socialist East German government.

Hagen left school after completing the 10th grade (at age 16), and joined the cover band 'Fritzens Dampferband'. From 1972-3, Hagen enrolled in the crash-course performance program at The Central Studio for Light Music in East Berlin. Upon graduation, formed the band 'Automobil'. Her most famous song from the early part of her career was 'Du hast den Farbfilm vergessen' ('You forgot the colour film') in 1974. However, her musical career in East Germany was cut short when she and her mother left the country in 1976, following the expulsion of her stepfather.

In 1977, Hagen formed the 'Nina Hagen Band' in Berlin. They released the self-titled debut album in 1978. The album gained significant attention throughout Germany and abroad. However, relations between Hagen and the other band members deteriorated over the course of the subsequent European tour, and Hagen decided to leave the band in 1979. The album 'Unbehagen' (which in German means discomfort or unease), was produced with the band recording their tracks in Berlin and Hagen recording the vocals in Los Angeles. The other band members went on as the band 'Spliff'. Meanwhile, Hagen's public persona was steadily creating media uproar and she became infamous for an appearance on an Austrian talk show called Club 2, in which she simulated masturbation. She also acted with Dutch rocker Herman Brood and singer Lene Lovich in the movie 'Cha Cha'.

In the fall of 1980, Hagen discovered she was pregnant of her daughter Cosma Shiva Hagen. In 1982, Hagen released her first English-language album: 'NunSexMonkRock'. By this time, Hagen's public appearances were becoming stranger and frequently included discussions of God, UFOs, her social and political beliefs, animal rights and vivisection and claims of alien sightings. But that Nina did not completely lose track of reality and still has a nose for good musicians shows her 1983 album 'Angstlos' with the very young Red Hot Chili Peppers as band. In 1989 she had a relationship with Frank Chevallier from France, with whom she has a son, Otis Chevallier-Hagen. Hagen keeps on releasing albums up until today. Next to that her extravagant persona is always good for tv. She host programs like her weekly science fiction show on the British Sci-Fi-Channel. In 1999, she played the role of Celia Peachum in 'The threepenny opera' by Kurt Weil and Berthold Brecht, alongside Max Raabe.

In 2000, her song 'Schön ist die Welt' became the official song of Expo 2000. In 2001 she collaborated with Rosenstolz and Marc Almond on the single 'Total eclipse/Die schwarze Witwe'. On the album, 'Journey to the snow queen', is more of an audio book - she reads the snow queen fairy tale with Tchaikovsky's 'The Nutcracker' in the background. In 2006 Nina was a part of the Popstars team.

On the web:

- http://www.totalobscurity.com/nina
- http://www.laut.de/wortlaut/artists/h/hagen_nina
- http://www.beepworld.de/members77/ninahagendas

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What do we think:

DB: Nina comes across as a woman who knows exactly which button to push to get her public's attention. Some might call her crazy but i think she's just downright smart. She plays with her image and her artistic output in a way that might seem a bit odd but on the other hand she knows that a 4-octave voice doesn't automatically sell records. The best example I got for this assumption is a scene when she appeared in a dumb Dutch hidden camera show called Ushi. The Ushi person is in fact a very dumb Dutch TV presentor who thinks its funny to interview people disguised as Japanese newsreporter. It isn't funny, but Nina played along anyway playing the ignorent popstar. Being unable to get a hold on Nina the Ushi person finally resided in pulling of her wig and shouting "it's me, it was a disguise". Nina, in return, smiled devilishy into the camera and pulled of her own wig. Showing her bald head she says "I can do that too, look it's me".

PR: I have a soft spot for La Hagen for many years. Whatever you may think of her albums, after more than 30 years she is still around! Who would have thought that in 1980... Of course, she has 'that voice', but she also has an enormous creative mind. And she did make some of the best Euro-punk records in the beginning of her carreer. 'Nina Hagen Band' and 'Unbehagen' just can not be missed in any music collection.

Recommend albums:

♪♪ - Du hast den Farbfilm vergessen - 1974

♪♪♪♪♪ - Nina Hagen Band - 1978

♪♪♪♪♪ - Unbehagen - 1979

♪♪♪ - Nunsexmonkrock - 1981

♪♪ Nina Hagen - 1988

♪♪♪♪ - Street - 1991

♪♪♪ - Revolution ballroom - 1993

♪♪♪♪ - Freud Euch - 1995

♪♪♪ - Return of the Mother - 2000

Further listening:

Angstlos - 1983; Fearless - 1984; In Ekstase - 1985; Beehappy - 1996; Live in Krefeld - 2002; Om Namah Shivay/1008 Indian Nights Live - 2002; Nina Hagen Big Band Explosion - 2003; Irgendwo auf der Welt - 2006

♪♪♪♪♪ = outstanding album, an absolute must-have
♪♪♪♪ = great album, highly recomended
♪♪♪ = nice album
♪♪ = be careful, requires listening before buying
♪ = best to be avoided


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