Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Klaus Nomi The Man from Another Planet

Klaus Nomi

I remember seeing a video of Klaus Nomi back in the day when Urgh! A Music War came out. It was a bit too disco for my tastes back then, but now I can't get enough of this myserious man. Who was Klaus Nomi? I'm late to the Nomi party, but it's still worth taking the time to recognize the man "from another planet."

I can trace one of his first shows to 1978, when he performed for the New Wave Vaudeville show in New York. Many people in the audience thought that he was not really singing, as it was just too amazing to believe. As far as I can tell, one of the first solid interviews of Klaus Nomi took place in 1979. The Soho News reported that he was "A creature of any state, sex, or sensibility you choose."
Klaus Nomi in New York
He had landed in New York seven years prior to that interview, and in 1976 he took time out for vocal lessons. It would only be fitting that Nomi would need to work with a professional in order to get his vocal stylings in order. The person he chose to teach him the finer points of opera also happened to be a "drag diva." Did Klaus pick up more than vocal lessons from his teacher? He claims that Maria Callas was one of his biggest influences. Perhaps Nomi mixed drag and his love of opera in order to create the image that brought him fame. Once he hit the stage, his personality was split between opera, and performance art.

One of the high points of Klaus Nomi's career was when he sang back up for David Bowie. On that night, the world got a glimpse of what many in the New York new wave scene had been used to seeing for some for at least a year prior. From there, Nomi would go on to record cover songs like The Twist, and You Don't Know Me. He was called a "countertenor," but some folks dispute that, simply stating that he sang falsetto. One thing is certain, when he had the right song to sing, he would amaze even the most hardcore punk and new wave fans.

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