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Nena Biography

Gabriele Susanne Kerner, 24 March 1960, Hagen, West Germany. This German pop/rock performer has maintained a successful and long-lived career, spanning her time with the short-lived Stripes in the late 70s, through worldwide success with Nena (the band) and a series of artistically diverse solo albums.

Nena and drummer Rolf Brendel (b. 13 June 1957, Hagen, West Germany) formed their first band, the Stripes, in 1979. This Hagen-based new wave unit completed their sole album a year later but both this release, and a number of attendant singles, failed to meet with any commercial success. The romantically attached Kerner and Brendel relocated to Berlin in 1981 and formed Nena with Jürgen Dehmel (b. 12 August 1958, Berlin, Germany; bass), Jörn-Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen (b. 10 March 1960, Berlin, Germany; keyboards), and Carlo Karges (b. 31 July 1951, Hamburg, Germany, d. 30 January 2002, Hamburg, Germany; guitar). The band enjoyed a number 1 hit in Germany with their 1983 debut ‘Nur Geträumt’ but it was their second release of the year, the nuclear protest song ‘99 Luftballons’, which rocketed the band into the spotlight. The single was a massive European success and also reached the number 2 slot on the US charts. An English-language version, ‘99 Red Balloons’, reached the top of the UK singles chart at the start of 1984.

Although Nena continued to enjoy hits in their native Germany their brief moment of international fame had passed by the mid-80s, and the ending of Kerner and Brendel’s romance at the start of 1987 precipitated the demise of the band (their final album release was the previous year’s Eisbrecher). Kerner embarked on a solo career with 1989’s Wunder Gescheh’n, working with studio-based musicians in preference to a permanent band set-up. In the early 90s she established a media profile as a television personality, and also provided voiceovers for a number of cartoon movies. Her solo work has included a number of children’s albums. She has continued to record and tour on a regular basis into the new millennium, enjoying notable success in Germany with Nena Feat. Nena (2002) and Willst Du Mit Mir Gehn (2005).

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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