Nina Hagen

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Nina Hagen

Catharina “Nina” Hagen (born in East Berlin on March 11, 1955) is a German singer and actress, famous for her mix of punk style and operatic singing.

Nina_Hagen’s Biography

Daughter of Hans Hagen, a scriptwriter of Jewish origin, and Eva-Maria Hagen, actress and singer, was born in East Berlin when Berlin and present-day Germany were divided into two states.

Her father died when she was only a child, and her mother married Wolf Biermann, a singer-songwriter. His stepfather was accused several times of being a counterrevolutionary in the then German Democratic Republic, for making criticism and ridicule against the regime.

Nina learned ballet at an early age and demonstrated surprising ability as a singer, being considered a child prodigy for her opera performances. He left school when he was in his tenth year and joined the cover band Fritzens Dampferband.

Musical career

Decade of the 70

Nina Hagen was a member of the Automobil band, which had a good acceptance in the German Democratic Republic. In 1976, his stepfather, Wolf Biermann, singer-songwriter and artist of known opinions opposed to the government of the GDR, was invited to appear in a televised show on the other side of the iron curtain Biermann traveled to the RFA and executed his television presentation; When the authorities of the GDR refused to allow him to cross back the border, his wife, Eva-Maria Hagen publicly protested this impediment. Nina Hagen, already a young musical star, joined her mother’s protest and warned that she would follow in her musical and political stepfather’s footsteps, but within the GDR; in this situation, the East German authorities granted the exit permit to the entire Biermann-Hagen family, but with no option to return.

In 1977 Nina Hagen formed in the RFA the band The Nina Hagen Band with which a year later she would record the self-titled album that includes tracks like “TV-Glotzer (White Punks On Dope)” (a cover of The Tubes) and “Auf’m Bahnhof Zoo”.

During a subsequent European tour, Hagen decides to leave the band, although he would continue to fulfill the contract to record a second album in 1979. Unbehagen (which in Spanish means “discomfort” or “restlessness”) was produced with recordings that the band I did in Berlin and with the vocal parts that Nina recorded in California. This one included the song “African Reggae” and “Lucky Number”, a cover by Lene Lovich.

Meanwhile, the public person of Nina Hagen was drawing the attention of the mass media. He starred in a scandal during an appearance on an Austrian talk show called Club 2, where he simulated a masturbation. He also participated in the movie Cha Cha with the Dutch rock legend, Herman Brood and his friend Lene Lovich.


In 1982 Hagen made his first solo album: NunSexMonkRock, a dissonant mix of punk, funk and opera; and that same year begins a world tour with No Problem Orchestra.

In 1983 he recorded the album Angstlos and included a small European tour. By this time the public appearances of Nina Hagen became strange and it was frequent that in her discussions she included topics related to God, the extraterrestrials and their social and political position. She also declared herself an advocate for animal rights.

From the album Angstlos, an English version called Fearless (in Spanish: “Intrépido”) was released, which generated two of the most hits that were heard in American discos: “Zarah” (a cover of the song “Ich weiss, is wird einmal ein Wunder geschehen “by Zarah Leander) and the success of opera / punk / disco,” New York, New York “(which reached the top 9 on the Billboard). This song is diametrically opposed to the classic of the same title sung by Frank Sinatra and Liza Minnelli, and possibly to avoid confusion is cited by some sources as “New York, N.Y.”. The singer was so famous at this time, that in 1985 she participated in the famous collective concert Rock in Rio.

Also in 1985 the German star launched Nina Hagen In Ekstasy; this album did not have the success of the previous one although it generated some hits like “Universal Radio” and the punk version of “My Way” (song popularized by Frank Sinatra). Two years later as a celebration for its 18 years with punk records Punk Wedding EP . He made a new album in 1989, which he simply called Nina Hagen, which was accompanied by another European tour.


Nina Hagen moves to Paris with her daughter Cosma Shiva, where she lives for the entire decade. In 1991 with a new album called Street begins a new tour of the old continent. A year later, he runs a television program on the German network RTLplus. In 1993 he made Revolution Ballroom and two years later entirely in German Freud Euch, recorded in English as Beehappy in 1996. This year Hagen collaborated with electronic music producer Christopher Franke for the song of the movie Tenchi Muyo! in Love entitled “Alchemy of Love”. During this stage Hagen kept his personality shocking with unusual outfits and choreographies such as, for example, his appearance interpreting “New York New York” in a musical program of a Spanish private television network, with a tulle blouse that left his chest in view, although for the date, his gesture was no longer considered a transgression in Spain, even less during a show, as it would have been years ago, so it can not be granted the value of social provocation that Nina Hagen promoted in its beginnings.

In 1998 Hagen conducted a weekly science fiction show for the British Sci-Fi channel, and the following year he recorded the album Namah Shivay, which was distributed exclusively on the Internet. He also sang “Witness” on the album Adiós by the industrial rock band KMFDM.

In 1999 he recorded with the Ensemble Modern, Max Raabe and under the direction of HK Gruber, an acclaimed new version of The Three Dimes Opera (Die Dreigroschenoper), an opera by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, in which he played the Mrs. Peachum’s paper with great quality.


In 2000, his song “Schön ist die Welt” was the official song of the Expo 2000. “Der Wind hat mir ein Lied erzählt”, another cover of Zarah Leander, would become his new hit that same year. In February 2001 he made the album The Return of the Mother, accompanied by a new tour in his native country. That same year he collaborated with Rosenstolz and Marc Almond on the single “Total eclipse / Die schwarze Witwe that reached # 22”.

Hagen gives voice to Sally’s character in the German dubbing of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Tim Burton’s film. He also collaborates with other bands like OOMPH! on the theme “Fieber”. More recently with Apocalyptica he made a cover of the song “Seemann” by the German band Rammstein.

As an actress, she recently appeared in a controversial protest spot together with Pamela Anderson, against the use of animal skins in general, and on airplanes in particular.

More Facts about Nina Hagen

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