There’s no stopping the #gastarbeitergroove as it sweeps up and transforms the vibes of the times. In the first doted assignment of our #60JahreMusik project, we focused on the adventures of folk music in Germany.
In this article we’ll be focusing on musicians that expressed similar woes in different genres, such as pop, jazz and soul. As for the “Hall of Fame” section, there we’ll remember stars from Turkey whose paths, for whatever reason, trailed through Germany.
Lastly, the story of the record-company triangle of Türküola-Uzelli-Minareci which carried on alongside the German music market just like a parallel universe!
Yazıya eşlik etmesi için DJ Funshine’ın hazırladığı çalma listesi burada:

Translated to English by Zeynep Beler.

In the 1960’s one observes musicians from Turkey who, in step with the rise of Turkish pop in both the production front and its eclectic amalgamation of different genres, also utilize genres other than folk music to express their sentiments in Germany.

Germany, Germany, We’re Here for the Money: Like Worries Unalike Genres

The KadrI SIx Feat LAMIA:

Formed with the Kadri Ünalan orchestra and vocals by Lamia Ünalan, The Kadri Six Feat Lamia arrived in Germany in 1962. They took their chances in Germany with their pop-jazz-soul infusion that had at the time conquered the hearts of young people in Turkey who were into foreign music. Their sole album, released by the German record company Intercord, is comprised entirely of soul covers. On the album sleeve they defined their music as “exuberant and Black” and Lamia’s take on western music with an eastern vocal style was found to be “extraordinary and surprisingly funky”.

Erkut Taçkın and The Black PoInts:

One of the first Turkish rockers, Erkut Taçkın kicked off his music career in Istanbul. Taçkın, who came to Germany as a laborer in 1962, worked at the Ford factory for eight months.

During this time, he was invited by friends in Münich to join the band “Black Points” which also included German musicians, making music in Münich until 1996. It seems likely that Black Points was Germany’s first multicultural band. [1]

Necdet Öztunalı: A TURKISH HIPPIE IN Germany

A hippie musician who wound up in Germany in 1972, Necdet Öztunalı was scouted one day while making a living as a street musician. The song Lover’s Rainbow Wonderland that he went on to record under the pseudonym John Tuner was such a hit that a German version, Regenbogen-Land, was also released as a single. [2]

Yusuf & FrIends: “Ich TürkIsch Man”
Kadir Cavak, with his son Yusuf Cavak's wording, worked in Istanbul with Turkish Classical Music Composer and Singer Arif Sami Toker. He performed "ney" in Istanbul Symphony Orchestra. He came to Germany as a guest worker in 1960. The album "Turkish Classical Songs" is a compilation of his works and released in 2020.
Please join us listening to the track named "Women and Men" starting with the words of an outcry "When will women start to understand the men?"

Born in 1950 in Turkey, at 11 Yusuf Cavak moved to join his family in Germany. He starting making music more than 50 years ago with his band Yusuf & Friends.

With the permission of the artist © Yusuf Cavak, www.cavak.com

The song Ich Türkisch Mann (I, Turkish Man) they recorded in 1977, Cavak, facetiously singing in broken German, gives stereotypes about Turks the once-over. Among these characteristics are the consumption of garlic, refusal to drink alcohol, fasting, having too many children, and the inability to harmonize with the society they live in. 

Ich Türkisch Man nur Türkisch essen kann, nur Türkisch leben kan 

I Turkish man, me only eat Turkish food, me only live Turkish way

The musician also made other songs centered on the same theme. We leave you with the live recording of his song “Germany Germany, We’re Here for the Money” from one of the concerts that the band played between ’70-75.

Newly DISCOVERED Gems: Grup Doğuş, Mustafa Kuş and Grup IMECE

Defined as the forebear of #gastarbeitergroove by Ercan Demirel, owner of Ironhand Records, Grup Doğuş was formed by the brothers Tufan and Muhittin Aydoğan, who had been jazz musicians in Turkey, along with Sedat Ürküt and Sedat Dikmen. Their first and only album, released in 1975, contained psychedelic interpretations of Anatolian pop and folk songs. The most ebullient #hamsipower song from that album, Karadeniz Derlemesi [Black Sea Compilation] can be found here. 

Then released by Minareci Kasetçilik, the album was re-released in vinyl by Ironhand Records in 2019. 

Vinyl Record Cover "Veda" (Farewell) of Mustafa Kuş & İmece

Another gem dug up from the past by Ironhand Records is Mustafa Kuş and Grup İmece [The İmece Band]. Mustafa Kuş, who came to Germany in ‘70 to study, released three albums and one 45-rpm record between 1979 and 1985. The band played concerts in Germany, followed by Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland. Also known as “super orchestra” due to the scope of its success , Grup İmece has contributed a unique synthesis of Anatolian melodies and rhythms and funk and jazz.

Fresh from the Oven: The Tango of İbrahim Işıl

İbrahim Işıl, who in 1977 had a bakery in Cologne with a small studio in the back, was known on the city’s streets as Tango İbrahim. After recording the songs Cebimde Kibrit Var [Matches in My Pocket] and Oy Fadimem for the WDR TV channel along with the same-named İbrahim Solmaz’s orchestra, Işıl re-recorded the same two songs with another orchestra in 1969 and released it via the company Sahibinin Sesi, meanwhile also releasing a song titled “Mini Rock” [Mini Skirt] with both Turkish and German lyrics that is surmised to be the first ever Turkish-German pop song. [4] Işıl, who in addition to his activities in the bakery and studio also sang tango on tour boats on the Rhein to entertain tourists, crossed paths with Cem Karaca in 1982. The duo recorded the album Bekle Beni [Wait for Me] in İbrahim Işıl’s studio. [5]

Kobra, The TURKISH Rock Band from BERLIN

In 1980, Barbaros Hayrettin, Adnan Bayrakçı, Nedim Ünal and Fevzi Bineytioğlu formed the band Kobra in Berlin. Three years later, their first and only album Orient Express, comprised of four songs, was released by Virgin Records. They played on German television, festivals, open air concerts and opened for famed German bands such as Karat, Puhdys, and Peter Maffay. In addition to Düsseldorf, Münich, Hamburg, and Dortmund, they also went on to take the Istanbul Harbiye Open Air Theatre by storm. The band ended up breaking up over in-group disputes. [6] Later, Barbaros Hayrettin would speak to mainstream audiences with “Ben Sizin Babanızım” [I Am Your Father].

We can’t not share the opening lines of the album, still completely relevant in spite of being written 40 years ago. 

To hold a light upon the world is humanity’s task

Why all the destruction, the belaboring of lives

Let’s stop war for the rest of our days 

Let’s seek peace for the rest of our days

Hall of Fame

Although, as mentioned in the previous article, weddings were at the apex of cultural activity and entertainment, taverns, restaurants with live music and events by associations were also gaining steam. The associations, which began emerging as life in Germany increasingly became institutionalized, organized courses in music, choirs, and performances in Germany by artists from Turkey, more for the purposes of “rescuing the youth from the streets” rather than out of any kind of artistic concern. [7]

Greve writes that this opened a considerable number of doors for music professionals and notes the visitations of an array of singers from the Istanbul-based tavern star Cengiz Kurtoğlu to TRT folk-music artist Bedia Akartürk, Neşet Ertaş, Azer Bülbül, and Özcan Deniz. [8] By the 1970’s, concerts aimed at Turkish audiences were constantly being organized. [9] Travels to Europe, albeit with completely different agendas, became extremely popular from the 60’s onwards. As Ercan Demirel imparts:

Tülay German moved to France in the 60s. Erkin Koray followed suit. Uncompromising hippie that he is, he took off without a dime. They told him, ‘Let us pool some money so you have something in your pocket.’ ‘That would defeat the purpose of my trip,’ he replied, and carried on hitchhiking.

Anatolian rock guru Erkin Koray played for two months in 1965 in Germany, with German musicians, in the band Hiccups.

Zülfü Livaneli came to Germany in the 70s. The number of arrivals in Germany likewise increased throughout the 80s. Cem Karaca came before the coup, and Neşet Ertaş after; due to financial troubles. Then in the 80s, for instance, Selda Bağcan joined them. Cologne, where Cem Karaca lived, was like a meeting spot. Barış Manço also used to visit. In spite of all that, though, there was no collective musical activity. They shoot the breeze and conversationally save Turkey but other than that, there is no musical interaction.

The Şanar Yurdatapan and Melike Demirağ duo as well as Fuat Saka and Sümeyra are a few of the artists who were in this parade of eminent musicians. So when did musical interaction happen, if at all?

Musical interaction began emerging when Zülfü Livaneli released his Turkish albums through German record companies with only the titles of the songs translated into German, so that for example Atlının Türküsü [The Rider’s Song] became Das Lied des Reiters. Cem Karaca made an album in which all the songs were German except for Nazım Hikmet’s poem Çok Yorgunum. Musicians such as Neşet Ertaş and Âşık Emrah, who mainly forged folk music, began working with migrant-run record companies after coming here. Either they released German records via German record companies or continued to release Turkish albums via migrant-run companies. Beyond that, there was no musical interaction.

* We will be publishing a seperate piece on Cem Karaca and Die Kanaken soon.

Meanwhile in a Parallel Universe: The Türküola-Uzelli-Minareci Triangle

It was perhaps unavoidable that the denizens of “imagined Turkey”, who brought their families to Germany and by 1972 had become the largest migrant community of Germany, leaving the Italians in the dust, would also bring with them a culture that created a music industry with its own singular set of dynamics. Unkapanı began taking notice of the Marks owned by the workers in Germany. İmran Ayata believes that the Germans did not only not contribute to “Turkish migrant music” but also obstructed the path to its creation and production.

The establishment of record companies and sound studios in the German market sensibility, and the spurning of Turkish artists by German record companies and studios led us to say, ‘if that’s how it is, then we’ll make our own.’ That was naturally quite expensive—bringing an artist from Turkey to Germany for 3-4 months, hosting them here, making them a German album…I remember each of those tapes cost 10 Marks too, serious money. The Germans missed out on the potential of that particular market. 

The potential missed out on by the Germans was noticed by Yılmaz Asöcal, who had come to Germany to study German Language and Literature. He promptly laid the foundation for the Türküola Record Company. Once Türküola was joined by the Uzelli Company, formed in Frankfurt in 1974, and the Munich-based Minareci, the trio that dominated the music market of Germany’s imagined Turkey was complete.

Ercan Demirel, who gave our case file its title by likening that market to a

There are those who say that those three formed a Turkish Ghetto. Parallel universe would be a better definition, however. If there’s a ghetto somewhere you’d be aware of it, but these Turkish record companies didn’t want to be seen. Whereas earlier, Minareci and Uzelli had been selling prayer rugs and wares for Hajj [pilgrimage], later on they made so many records…then there are people who made their own records, I’m guessing they sold them out of their car, going from coffeeshop to coffeeshop. There’s a record company in Cologne, for instance, called Areg. Türkofon grew, their tapes began selling because migrants listened to them in their cars. Tapes are more practical compared to vinyl. And after the advent of portable tape players, they started being able to take them to Turkey. They would record their own voices over the tapes. Tapes just have a completely different sensibility. Minareci started releasing tapes in 1974. He might have printed around 200-300 tapes. If you consider that each tape had a run of about 1000, that comes out to around 200 thousand. On top of that you’d have to pay its taxes. So much money changed hands yet no one knew about it. It’s like a completely different world.

Ercan Demirel © Olcay Mete Demirel

By Way of a Conclusion

We hope that this follow-up to our first feature, “In the Words of Contemporary Folk Bards, the Predicament of Germany’s Guest Workers” has opened up a space for you to encounter musicians of that time with output in an array of genres. Although the exact dimensions of the “imagined Turkey” music market in Germany elude us, it is at least evident that it’s too formidable to evade detection.  

We mentioned that this market almost constitutes a kind of parallel universe to the German music market. Let’s just say that exceptions prove the rule, because in our next interview we will be sharing with you one of the few overlaps that have ever occurred between those universes. Frontman Nedim Hazar shared with us the story of Yarınistan, the band that made its mark on the disco charts of the 80’s and 90’s with its ethnic rock songs and on history with four albums, over 200 concerts and a German Record Critics’ Award. 

This piece is written in the framework of #60JahreMusik project financed by Berlin Yunus Emre Institute.

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