This happy looking fella is named Bill Ramsey, but to my siblings and me he'll always be Uncle Bill. He's originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, and my dad has known him for the longest time. Uncle Bill taught himself how to play piano when he was a teenager, and went into the Army in the '50s and was stationed in Germany. He started doing a lot of playing and recording there, and eventually became a really popular singer and entertainer, singing in both English and German. It's one of those unusual, quintessentially American stories. He'd always send us his records, so we'd sing along with these really catchy German pop songs (without having any idea what we were saying, of course). He had a sort of ladybug mascot he called Maria Kafer, so he would also send us things with ladybugs on them, or made to look like a ladybug (I remember a little ladybug watch with wings that opened to reveal the watch face). He'd come to visit us occasionally, and he always struck me as one of those larger-than-life characters--great sense of humor, warm and incredibly generous. My parents are still in touch with him (he's probably in his seventies now), and as a matter of fact they're going over to visit him this August. Recently my brother discovered that there are some Youtube videos of him, so have a look.
This ties in quite nicely with a recent find at the crazy cat lady's store, down in the small South Carolina town where
my in-laws live. (I've written about her & her funky bookstore once before). I swear, it's the oddest thing--I always find something of interest there, and tolerating the rank odors, dust and her nuttiness is always worth it. (Although I have to say that the odors weren't quite as bad this last time). This is a compilation of German bands from the early '80s. I loved the title and the cover, so I pretty much decided to get it regardless of what was on it. There's a track by Trio, who I think are pretty great (I have one of their albums somewhere--come to think of it, where the hell is that one?!?--that has the song "Broken Hearts (for you & me)" on it, which is such a great tune). They were the only band on the record that I knew, so that made it even more appealing. It's a funny little record, and it must be fairly obscure 'cause I couldn't find an image of it on the web. "Anna" must've been one of Trio's early hits, and it's kind of plodding & endearing at the same time. I like all the noises and the woman laughing in "Zauberstab". The third tune, I guess I just liked the lady's voice. This is definitely a cool, weird time capsule, so if you ever come across a copy of it you should take it home and curl up with it. You know how cuddly Germans can be.