Mey performing in 2014
|Reinhard Friedrich Michael Mey|
|Frédérik Mey (in France)|
|Born||21 December 1942|
|Genres||Folk, chanson, skiffle|
|Instruments||vocals, guitar, trumpet|
Reinhard Friedrich Michael Mey (born 21 December 1942) is a German "Liedermacher" (literally "songmaker", a German-style singer-songwriter). In France he is known as Frédérik Mey.
By 2009, Mey had released 27 German albums, and generally releases a new album approximately every two years; his first album was Ich wollte wie Orpheus singen (1967); the most recent studio album is Das Haus an der Ampel (2020). His biggest success to date was Mein Achtel Lorbeerblatt (1972). His most famous song by far is "Über den Wolken" (1974), which has been covered by numerous German artists. Mey is known to embark upon an extensive concert tour every two or three years, with a live album released from each tour.
Reinhard Mey was born on 21 December 1942, in Berlin, Germany, where he spent his childhood. At the age of twelve, he had his first piano lesson, and at the age of fourteen he got his first guitar. He taught himself how to play the trumpet. During his school years he gained performance experience by playing Skiffle music with friends. In 1965, Mey was offered the chance to perform at a Liedermacher festival at Waldeck Castle, a converted castle ruin. This led to his first recording contract. In 1961, he became part of the group Les Trois Affamés, with Schobert Schulz.
In 1963, Mey graduated from the French Gymnasium in Berlin, receiving the German Abitur as well as the French Baccalauréat, and thereafter began vocational training as an industrial trader at Schering AG Berlin. He broke off his university studies in economics in order to concentrate on songwriting and singing, and has been a successful performer in Germany, in France, and in the Netherlands ever since. He has written songs in German, French, Dutch and English. He records his French material under the name of Frédérik Mey. In 1967, he married a French woman named Christine. Their marriage was dissolved in 1976.
Today, Mey lives in Berlin-Frohnau in his second marriage (since 1977) to Hella Hennies (born in Hannover), and had three children in the marriage: Frederik (born 20 November 1976), Maximilian (born 28 January 1982; died May 2014), and Victoria-Luise (born 19 November 1985).
His son Maximilian died in May 2014 after five years in a persistent vegetative state. Undiagnosed severe pneumonia had led to a cardio-pulmonary arrest, from which Maximilian was resuscitated after eight minutes of hypoxia.
Mey writes both sensitive and humorous songs, with subject matter taken mostly from his everyday life and surroundings. His themes include life on the road, his hobbies (e.g., flying), childhood memories, his family life and surroundings, and occasionally politics.
Mey's politics tend to be moderate to left-leaning. He speaks out in particular for freedom and non-violence, and not only in his songs (for example, he participated in a demonstration at the beginning of 2003 against the coming war in Iraq). Nevertheless, his Annabelle criticises female political correct deadly-serious non-serene activism; Mey is said later to have repented of it and wrote another song in response to himself. Strongly influenced by the French chanson, Mey's political songs were relatively scarce among his works at the beginning, but they have increased in quantity over time, such that there is usually at least one song on each new album about politics. His 2004 album, Nanga Parbat, for example, includes "Alles OK in Guantanamo Bay", a song critical of the U.S. detention facility in Cuba.
For years, Mey has been an avid vegetarian, and also has been active in the German chapter of the organisation People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Several of his songs deal with the theme of prevention of cruelty to animals, the most famous one being "Die Würde des Schweins ist unantastbar" (roughly, "a pig's dignity is inviolable.", echoing the first sentence of the first article of the German constitution)
The first bars of Reinhard Mey's Gute Nacht, Freunde have been used since 1976 as the beginning of the theme tune for the popular Dutch radio show Met het Oog op Morgen, broadcast every night from 23:00 until midnight on Radio 1. After the words "und ein letztes Glas im steh'n", the Mey song fades away and an orchestra takes over.