09 August 2015

Peter Kraus

German singer and actor Peter Kraus (1939) was one of the first artists to bring Rock & Roll to Germany. In the late 1950s, he was known as ‘The German Elvis’ and with his female counterpart, Conny Froboess, he formed the Dream Couple of many European teenagers. The popular teen idol made several Schlagerfilms, but only two of them co-starred 'Die Conny und der Peter' together.

Peter Kraus
Belgian postcard by S. Best, Antwerpen (licency holder for Belgium for Ufa).

Peter Kraus
German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no. F-159. Sent by mail in the Netherlands in 1965. Photo: Bayer.

Peter Kraus
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. CK-206. Photo: Arthur Grimm / Ufa.

Peter Kraus
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. CK-250. Photo: Arthur Grimm / Ufa.

Peter Kraus
German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no. F-159. Sent by mail in the Netherlands in 1965. Photo: Bayer.

First Rock & Roll Teen Star

Peter Kraus was born as Peter Siegfried Krausnecker in 1939 in München (Munich), Germany. He was the son of the Austrian born director and cabaret artist Fred Kraus. Peter spent his youth alternating in Munich, Vienna and Salzburg where his father owned a small theatre.

Peter had already singing and acting lessons during his school years. His first film was the excellent Das fliegende Klassenzimmer/The Flying Classroom (Kurt Hoffmann, 1954) based on the famous children's novel of the same name by Erich Kästner.

In the following years Peter would play in several other films like Die Freundin meines Mannes/The Girlfriend of My Husband (Axel von Ambesser, 1957), Die Frühreifen/The Prematures (Josef von Baky, 1957) with Heidi Brühl, and Der Pauker/The Crammer (Axel von Ambesser, 1958) starring Heinz Rühmann.

In 1956, Kraus made his first single, a cover version of Little Richard's Tutti Frutti . When the German music industry discovered that Rock & Roll was a big seller even with German lyrics, they marketed him as an Elvis copy. At first Kraus was indeed heavily influenced by Elvis Presley, but soon he managed to find his own style.

Peter Kraus became – like his colleague Ted Herold – one of Germany's most popular singers and teen idols. His lanky and nonchalant attitude was a big hit with teens. Between 1957 and 1964 he scored 36 hits, including Susi Rock (1957), Sugar Baby (1958) and Tiger (1959). In the first four years after his debut he recorded 36 hits and sold more than 12 million records. During his whole career 'The German Elvis' would sell over 17 million records.

Peter Kraus
Dutch postcard by Uitg. Takken, Utrecht, no. AX 4445. Photo: Hafbo. Publicity still for Die Frühreifen/The precocious (Josef von Báky, 1957).

Peter Kraus, Conny Froboess
Dutch postcard, no. 761, with Conny Froboess.

Peter Kraus and Fred Kraus
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, Minden/Westf, no. 834. Photo: Alfa / Melodie / Gloria-Film / Arthur Grimm. Publicity still for Melodie und Rhythmus/Melody and Rhythms (John Olden, 1959) with Fred Kraus.

Conny Froboess, Peter Krauss
Dutch postcard by Uitg. Takken, Utrecht, no. AX 4489. Photo: Hafbo. Publicity Still for Conny und Peter machen Musik (1960) with Conny Froboess.

Peter Kraus
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag G.m.b.H., Minden, Westfalen, no. 582. Photo: Lothar Winkler. Publicity card for Polydor Schalip, that anounces the singles Sugar Baby/Ich denk' an dich and Come on and Swing/Du passt so gut zu mir.

The 'nice boy from next door'

Peter Kraus performed his hit songs in several Schlagerfilms. In retrospect it is remarkable that he appeared in only two Schlagerfilms with his female counterpart Conny Froboess - in the big hits Wenn die Conny mit dem Peter/When Conny and Peter Do It Together (Fritz Umgelter, 1958) and Conny und Peter machen Musik/Conny and Peter Make Music (Werner Jacobs, 1960). They were considered the ‘dream couple’ of the German entertainment industry in the late 1950s.

As the 'nice boy from next door', he appeared in many silly teenager comedies, including Alle lieben Peter/Everybody Loves Peter (Wolfgang Becker, 1959) opposite Christine Kaufmann, and Melodie und Rhythmus/Melody and Rhythm (John Olden, 1959) opposite Margit Saad.

His real father, Fred Kraus played his father in Melodie und Rhythmus/Melody and Rhythm . In this Schlagerfilm Kraus appeared with Jörg Maria Berg as the The James Brothers. Under this pseudonym the duo recorded such German cover versions as Wenn (When)(1958), Cowboy Billy (1959), Rote Rosen (Pretty Blue Eyes)(1960), Die jungen Jahre (Endless Sleep)(1960) and Hätt' ich einen Hammer (If I Had A Hammer)(1964).

Peter Kraus, Margit Saad
German postcard by ISV, no. H 43, ca. 1960. Peter Kraus and Margit Saad in Melodie und Rhythmus (1959).

Peter Kraus
German postcard by ISV, no. H 48.

Peter Kraus
German postcard by ISV, no. E 18. Photo: Constantin / Grimm.

Peter Kraus
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. CK-181. Photo: Arthur Grimm / Ufa.

Peter Kraus
German postcard by Terra-Colour, no. F-178.

New Trends

Peter Kraus changed his music with new trends and toured through Europe and the USA with his schlagers like Schwarze Rose Rosemarie (Black Rose Marie) (1961) and such blues songs as Silvermoon and Sweety (1962).

In the cinema he appeared with Willy Fritsch in Was macht Papa denn in Italien?/But What's Daddy Doing in Italy? (Hans-Dieter Schwarze, 1961), and he co-starred with the former iceskating champions Marika Kilius and Hans-Jürgen Bäumler in Die Große Kür/The Great Skating Kür (Franz Antel, 1964).

Since then he worked mainly for television. He made many TV musicals and even had his own TV show, Herzlichst Ihr Peter Kraus, but he also worked as a record producer, script writer and TV director. After 26 years he finally made a third film with Conny, now Cornelia Froboess, the crime drama Der Sommer des Samurai/The Summer of the Samurai (Hans-Christoph Blumenberg, 1985).

Since then Peter Kraus keeps on touring and making such records as Rock ’n Roll is Back (2004). That year he also published the biography Keine Zeit zum Altwerden – I love Rock'n Roll (No Time To Become Old), written with Erich J. Lejeune. In 1990 he had already produced the memoirs Wop-baba-lu-ba – mein ver-rocktes Leben.

In the cinema he was last seen in a small part in the comedy West End (Markus Mischkowski, Kai-Maria Steinkühler, 2001). He received an Amadeus Austrian Music Award (2004) and an ECHO Award (2006) for his lifetime achievements. He is also a successful painter, whose work has been exhibited in Switzerland.

In 1969 Peter Kraus married Ingrid Nieuweboer, a former model. She brought her daughter Gaby into the marriage, whom Kraus adopted later on. In 1973 their son Mike (Michael) was born. Gaby died in her late thirties from breast cancer. Peter and Ingrid Kraus live in Tessin at Lake Lugano in Switzerland.

Peter Kraus
German postcard with autograph.

Conny Froboess and Peter Kraus sing Sag' Mir Was Du Denkst in Conny und Peter machen Musik/Conny and Peter Make Music (1960). Source: Fritz 5140 (YouTube).

Peter Kraus sings Lass kein Mädchen lange warten in Wenn man baden geht auf Teneriffa (1964). Source: Fritz 51213 (YouTube). Dubschiwadub, Dubschiwadub, Dubschiwadub dubudubi...

Medley of Peter Kraus' biggest hits, sung in 2008. Source: Fritz 51210 (YouTube).

Sources: PeterKraus.de (German), Stephanie D'heil (Steffi-line - German), Marisa Brown
(AllMusic), IMDb and Wikipedia.


Tete said...

Hello and Happy PFF! This was so much fun! Being American, we never get to see what other countries were doing very much! It's fun to see that we all had the 50s love stories and rock and roll was a major part of teenagers every where!
Hugs- Tete

MrCachet said...

I follow your blog every Friday, and I really enjoy reading your posts. Thanks for playing along on PFF!

Joy said...

It looks as though music has kept him young judging from the last medley clip. Nice to see old rockers are still going.
BTW in reply to your question about the red letter postcards. I have never been able to find anything about them except they were published in England, and may have been given away in a magazine.

MuseSwings said...

Nice to see that the cute publicity pairings and silly movies aren't just an American invention.

Sheila said...

Once again, memories come flooding back! He is remarkably well-dressed throughout his career, by the looks of it. And good to see that he's still going strong.

Funoldhag said...

I was taken with Eva May - what a sad short life she had.