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Talking Germany

Blog with Peter Craven

The delightful Klaus Voormann

Ace of bass

Klaus Voormann – our latest guest on Talking Germany – befriended the Beatles during their earliest days in Hamburg. He went on to share a London apartment with Ringo and George, play in the band with John and Yoko, and he has Paul on guitar and vocals on his new album. Along the way he also designed the legendary cover for the ‘Revolver’ album and played bass on some all-time great recordings. 

But it’s only now that this living legend has got round to making a record of his own: a chronicle of his long career called ‘A Sideman’s Journey.’ So why did he choose an old Fats Domino number – ‘I’m in Love Again’ – for the opener? ”You know,” says Klaus, ”it was the first song I ever played bass on!” Klaus had been hanging around with the Beatles at Hamburg’s Kaiserkeller club, ”and then Stu Sutcliffe (the band’s then bassist) simply handed me the bass guitar and said get on with it!” 

It was the start of a career that included hits like the bitter-brilliant ‘You’re So Vain.’ So why isn’t it on Sideman’s Journey? ”Well, I did get together with Carly Simon, ”working together with her son to put down a track, ”but it wasn’t good enough, the sound quality just wasn’t good enough!” Only Klaus Voorman could drop a track like that without a hint of regret! Also missing on the album – a great ballad on which Klaus played bass: Nilsson’s ‘Without You.’ ”We wanted to do a spoken version of that song with Al Green,” he reveals, ”but we just couldn’t get him into the studio.” What an incredible missed opportunity! 

But there are plenty of other great tracks on the record, which is as laid-back as Klaus himself. His very genuine modesty was again reflected in his minor consternation over a call he’d received from Yoko Ono, who’d picked up on his record and wondered if he’d like to get back on stage in New York together with Eric (yes, that Eric!). ”Oh dear,” he says, ”I might not be able to get out of that one!”


December 4, 2009