Monday, July 25, 2011

Silver Convention - Fly Robin Fly

Silver Convention was a German disco recording act of the 1970s. The group was originally named "Silver Bird Convention", or "Silver Bird".

The group was initiated in Munich by producers and songwriters Sylvester Levay and Michael Kunze. "Silver" was Levay's nickname. Using female session vocalists for their first recordings, they scored a successful single in the United Kingdom in 1975 with the song "Save Me". They were only a studio group, and realised then that they would need to find professional entertainers for presentation to the public.

They recruited vocalists Linda Thompson (real name Linda Ubelherr, who would be billed on her solo records as Linda G. Thompson, formerly a member of Les Humphries Singers), Penny McLean (real name Gertrude Wirschinger) and Ramona Wulf (real name Ramona Kraft, born to a German mother and black American G.I. father). Their first production was the minor successful single named ironically "There Is Always Another Girl".

As "Silver Convention" they scored two major U.S. hit singles. "Fly, Robin, Fly," of which the complete lyrics consisted of only six distinct words (Fly, Robin, Up, To, The, Sky), scored three weeks at #1 in 1975, and won the group a Grammy Award for Best R&B Instrumental Performance. Initially the song was titled "Run, Rabbit, Run", changed by the writers moments before the recording took place. Their next success "Get Up And Boogie", which also consisted of only six distinct words, scored three weeks at #2 in 1976. Their next release, "No No Joe," only scored #60 in September 1976. The further singles released by the trio attempted to duplicate the sound that had made them successful briefly, but they were only minor successes. At this time, Linda G. Thompson left the group and was replaced by New Yorker Rhonda Heath, who was chosen in preference to other hopefuls at an open casting call to become the newest singer for the group.

Michael Kunze actually wrote the lyrics on the first two albums under the pseudonym Stephan Prager. During this time the three singers released their own solo work. McLean and Thompson achieved hit singles with "Lady Bump" and "1, 2, 3, 4 ... Fire!", and "Ooh What a Night" respectively. Wulf's solo effort was only a moderate success.

Silver Convention represented Germany in the Eurovision Song Contest 1977 with a song entitled "Telegram", finishing eighth. The entry had only English lyrics (with considerably more words than their past hits), but was allowed to enter in spite of the language rule being reintroduced this year, because the song was chosen to represent Germany before the reintroduction was announced. In 1994, Rhonda Heath returned to Eurovision, providing backing vocals and keyboards for the German entry Wir Geben 'Ne Party performed in German by Mekado. This entry did better than Silver Convention's effort, placing 3rd out of the 25 entries in Dublin.

With a new producer (John Davis), and a revised line-up of singers (Suzie McClosky aka Zenda Jacks, Rhonda Heath and Ramona Wulf), Silver Convention was successful again during 1978 with the album Love in a Sleeper. The 12" single release from the LP was "Spend the Night With Me" backed with "Mission To Venus".

Levay also worked with Giorgio Moroder, and Kunze began work with Jim Steinman. The solo careers of the three singers ended quickly and they left the music industry. Levay and Kunze later collaborated on the successful Vienna productions of the musicals Elisabeth, Mozart! and Rebecca.



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