Tangerine Dream Biography

Like Amon Düül and Can, Tangerine Dream are German-based purveyors of imaginative electronic music. There have been numerous line-ups since the band’s formation in September 1967, although Edgar Froese (6 June 1944, Tilsit, East Prussia) has remained at the head of affairs throughout. After playing with college band the Ones, who released a single and performed for Salvador Dali at his villa, Froese put together Tangerine Dream with himself on guitar, Volker Hombach (flute, violin), Kurt Herkenber (bass), Lanse Hapshash (drums) and Charlie Prince (vocals). Heavily influenced by US bands like the Doors, Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead, they performed live at various student counter-culture events. By 1969 they had split and remained inactive until Froese recruited Steve Jollife (electric flute; ex-Steamhammer). He departed soon afterwards, although he would return to the fold later. A debut album was recorded, for which Froese brought in Conrad Schnitzler (b. 1937, Düsseldorf, Germany) and Klaus Schulze (b. 4 August 1947, Berlin, Germany), who would later embark on a solo career for Virgin Records and work on Ash Ra Tempel’s debut album. Jazz drummer Christoph Franke (ex-Agitation Free) joined in 1971, as did organist Steve Schroyder. This line-up recorded Alpha Centauri, which combined space age rock in the style of Pink Floyd with classical structures. Peter Baumann (ex-Ants) replaced Schroyder, and this became the band’s first stable line-up, staying together until 1977.

The 1972 album Zeit saw the band’s instrumentation incorporate new synthesizer technology, while Atem focused on atmospheric, restrained passages. Influential BBC disc jockey John Peel elected it the best album of 1973. Phaedra established their biggest foothold in the UK market when it reached number 15 in the album charts in 1974. Their attentions turned, however, to a series of film soundtracks, while Froese released his first solo, Aqua. At the height of punk, and as one of the named targets of the insurrection, Stratosfear emerged. It was their most commercial album so far. Guitar, piano and harpsichord were all incorporated, taking the edge off the harsh electronics. After the hectic touring schedule of the following year, Baumann left to pursue his solo career. He would go on to form his own Private Music label, and, ironically, sign Tangerine Dream for releases in the USA. He was replaced by former member and multi-instrumentalist Jollife, as well as drummer Klaus Krieger. The ensuing Cyclone featured vocals and lyrics for the first time, although they returned to instrumental work with Force Majeure.

As the new decade dawned, the band became the first western combo to play in East Berlin. Tangram and Exit relied on melody more than their precursors, the latter featuring the emotive ‘Kiev Mission’, which included a message from the Russian Peace Movement. Le Parc used advanced sampling technology, which seemed to be a little at odds with the band’s natural abilities. Johannes Schmoelling who had joined the band in 1980 became the next to depart for a solo career, replaced by classically trained Paul Haslinger in 1986. The band’s lucrative soundtrack work at this point was almost eclipsing their own projects, although the money from this work enabled the members to set up their own individual studios. Chris Franke, after 17 years’ service, left at the end of 1987. Computer programmer Ralf Wadephal took his place but when he left Froese and Haslinger continued as a duo until the latter was replaced by the former’s son, Jerome, in 1991. The father and son partnership has continued to work at a prolific rate, issuing remixed versions of old recordings alongside new material on their own TDI label. Although often criticized, Tangerine Dream were pivotal in refining a sound that effectively pioneered new age ambient electronic music more than a decade later. Their importance in this field should not be underestimated.

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

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