REINHARD LAKOMY & TANGERINE DREAM - Electronic East-West-Connection

REINHARD LAKOMY & TANGERINE DREAM - Elektronische Ost-West-Connection

In 1980, Tangerine Dream became the first West German rock band to perform in the GDR. That it came about was also thanks to East German composer, pianist and singer Reinhard Lakomy. As a result, he was even offered the chance to join the group. This did not happen, but there was a West-East transfer of a Moog synthesizer that had once belonged to Mick Jagger. For East German rock music fans it was a sensation in 1980, for the West German "Spiegel" editors a marginal note: "Tangerine Dream on a GDR trip". The West Berlin electronic band, which had so often "complained about poor performance possibilities at their place of residence", was now allowed to present their synthesizer sounds "optimally" in Berlin for the first time - but in East Berlin: For 31 January 1980, two concerts including a laser show in front of a total of 5800 spectators were planned in the Palace of the Republic, the Hamburg news magazine announced the historic event

In fact, the two gigs (at 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.) as part of the "DT64 Youth Concert" event series were the first ever by a West German rock group in the GDR. Tangerine Dream - which at the time still included Christoph Franke and Johannes Schmoelling - owed this above all to the nature of their music, which Froese described as "value-free" in 1980. Spherical sounds entirely without lyrics - there was very little danger of undesirable interpretations. What's more, the world-famous band was helped by the fact that a fellow East Berlin musician was very much in favour of their performance: Reinhard Lakomy. "Lacky was in good contact with Edgar Froese. He helped make sure that Tangerine Dream were allowed to perform at the Palast der Republik," says Monika Ehrhardt-Lakomy, the widow of the musician who died in 2013. "Lacky was friends with someone who was responsible for entertainment in the GDR Ministry of Culture. He had suggested to him that Tangerine Dream should also be allowed to play in the youth concert series, in which he himself performed electronic music."

The recommendation obviously carried weight, which was probably also due to the advocate's good name: Reinhard Lakomy was not only one of the best-known musicians in the GDR, but also one of the most versatile. He started out as a jazz pianist at the age of 16, then became a singer, leader of his own rock ensemble, songwriter, arranger, film composer and, together with his wife who worked as a writer, inventor of a kind of new children's music genre: "story songs". (Best known for the album "The Dream Magic Tree," which sold a total of five million copies)

And Lakomy also left a deep mark as an electronic musician: "In the East, he was considered the 'Pope of Electronic Music' after his first electronic LP in 1981 ["Das geheime Leben - Electronics", note]. He was obsessed with sounds that the material world wouldn't voluntarily give out, that he couldn't make audible with conventional instruments," says his widow. "So he wanted to program his own sounds, and from about 1979 he also worked with engineers, even on a speech-recognition program." Once, he says, he was at a trade fair in New York, which is probably where he got in touch with a couple of Hamburg developers he worked with in the 1980s. He was even allowed to travel to Hamburg regularly to work on the development of a music notation program at the computer and software company C-LAB - which incidentally became the basis for the music production program "Logic", which was integrated into the Macintosh software for professional users as well as beginners after the company was taken over by Apple.
"Edgar Froese also held Lacky in high regard, considering him a top composer and pianist," says Monika Ehrhardt-Lakomy. "In 1980, he was even supposed to come along on an Australian tour. Lacky would have liked to do that, but the Politburo of the GDR would have jumped in the foursquare. Besides, Edgar Froese wanted him to become a permanent band member then. On the tour Lacky would have been terribly happy to join, but leaving for good, he never intended to do that."

So in the end Reinhard Lakomy never performed together with Tangerine Dream - apart from the fact that in January 1980 they played at the same venue at almost the same time within the DT64 concert series. On that occasion Lakomy had also noticed the large Moog synthesizer that Tangerine Dream had brought to the Palast der Republik by semitrailer together with their other equipment. At that time, the device had already been on an amazing odyssey. In the late 60s, Robert Moog's analog synthesizers were considered the "hottest technical shit" by bands who could afford them. Moog had built one for Mick Jagger, but he and his Stones colleagues couldn't handle the instrument, as the inventor later told. Jagger therefore sold it to Tangerine Dream, who took it to East Berlin - but not back to the West: "At the concert Lacky saw that Tangerine Dream hardly used their big Moog synthesizer on stage, it was actually only blinking as a fake. He then approached Edgar Froese and bought it from him for 11,000 D-marks, with an adventurous loan. That's how the thing, which consisted of loud modules and was as big as a wardrobe, ended up in our house in our recording studio."

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