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The northern German classic rock band Torfrock established themselves in the late '70s, before going on an indefinite hiatus in 1982 and re-forming years later to cultivate their formidable cult status on the concert circuit. Torfrock were formed by Klaus Büchner and Raymond Voß in 1976, and the idea underlying the band's formation was to perform German-language classic rock with a sense of plainspoken northern humor and without any high-minded pretensions. Büchner and Voß, who are singers as well as musicians, were influenced by the classic rock bands of America and Britain. For instance, their early repertoire included German-language interpretations of the classic rock staples "Hey Joe," "Summertime Blues," "Carol," "The Wind Cries Mary," and "Let's Work Together." By and large, though, the band wrote its own material and even constructed its own mythology (i.e., die Torfmoorholmer Legende).
Shortly after forming Torfrock, Büchner and Voß settled on a band lineup also including Reinhard Heinrichs (percussion), Gunnar Kämmer (drums), and Thomas Rieckmann (bass). With this lineup in place, the guys recorded and released the album Dat Matscht So Schön (1977), which includes key songs in the Torfmoorholm mythology. Torfrock continued recording albums at a steady rate in the years that followed -- Rata-Ta-Zong (1978), Torfrockball im Hühnerstall (1979), Vierter Versuch (1980), and Mein Gott, Sind Wir Begabt (1982) -- before Büchner and Voß decided to put the band on hold in order to pursue other projects. In particular, Büchner enjoyed a good run of success as part of the schlager duo Klaus & Klaus with Klaus Baumgart, debuting in 1981 with the single "Da Steht ein Pferd auf'm Flur" and releasing albums including An der Nordseeküste (1982), Tierisch Menschlich (1985), Schwer Ist der Beruf (1986), Wir Feiern Wieder Feste (1987), and Die Herzensbotschaft (1990). Voß, on the other hand, formed the rock band Eltern Haften für Ihre Kinder and recorded a self-titled album.
In 1988 Torfrock re-formed, though Rieckmann departed the following year, replaced on bass by Uwe Meitzner. The band then proceeded to record its comeback album, ...Alle an die Ruder! (1990), which included "Beinhart," a chart-topping single in Germany and a Top 20 hit in Austria and Switzerland. The comeback was topped off by a concert trek commemorated on the live album Aufe Beinharte Tour (1991) and its accompanying home video, as well as by the album Torfrock Oder Watt? (1992), which featured "remixes" of 17 fan favorites. Torfrock remained semi-active in the years that followed, releasing a new album every couple years (Goiler Tonträger, 1994; Rockerkuddl, 1996). The band was largely relegated to cult status in the wake of its comeback, however, which meant increasingly infrequent studio albums, a greater reliance on the concert circuit, and best-of compilations such as the three-CD Beinhart: Alle Hits (2000). Torfrock nevertheless did make another comeback with Einigkeit und Blech und Freizeit (2001), the band's first new album in five years. The release marked the band's 25th anniversary and was followed by a popular tour commemorated on the live album Die Beinharte Bagaluten-Wiehnacht (2002) and its accompanying home video. Torfrock resurfaced on-stage from time to time in the years that followed, drawing crowds that were a testament to the band's seemingly undiminishable cult following. ~ Jason Birchmeier
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