An Ode to Klaus Nomi

A Tribute to a Star who Died Before His Time

If I could travel back in time and see one artist or band perform live, it would be Klaus Nomi. To this day, it saddens me that I will never get to see him in concert. Klaus Nomi is one of those singers that not everyone has heard of. Those that know him, know him for his theatrical appearances, wide vocal range, and unusual but delightful music crossing genres of rock, disco, opera and new wave. He was once a backing singer for David Bowie. His only two albums, a self-titled debut and Simple Man, showcased high talent, an open mind, and a delight for listeners who love underground discoveries. 

Sadly, before he could finish his third album, he died of AIDS. He was only 39-years-old. His beginnings were humble. Born in Germany, he worked as an usher at an opera house and sang in casinos. After moving to New York, he worked as a pastry chef to support himself. 

Despite being an avid listener to his music, I seem to be knowing more facts about him the more I search him on Google. Testimonies about him all confirm he was a gentleman and in interviews, he seemed pleasant and humble. 

I discovered Klaus Nomi on the now-defunct LiveJournal group, MP3_Share. The name is quite self-explanatory. It was one of my favourite places to look through during my LiveJournal days at college. I can't remember the name of the poster who had uploaded Klaus Nomi's debut album up there, and I wished I went back to the post after listening to the album to give kudos to the sharer. 

Downloading music from sites like MediaFire, Megaupload, and the likes was treading into murky territory. I think it's fine to download it as a backup if you already own the album. And if you don't you have 24 hours to listen to the album and if you like it, you can delete the album and purchase it. But I've also heard conflicting stuff. Either way, I now own all his albums. I got his first record on vinyl and his second on CD. 

Though now we have services like Spotify and Youtube doing a music streaming service, I don't hear about many people downloading music from sites like Mediafire anymore. I still never got around to torrenting. At the moment though, sadly not much Klaus up on Spotify. 

I listened to Klaus Nomi's self-titled debut album and I was amazed by it. It was at the time where I was sick of listening to mainstream music all the time and wanted to hear something more underground, obscure, and undiscovered. Not many people I know have heard of Klaus Nomi, but the exceptions are some passionate David Bowie fans. 

I had no idea that the majority of the songs on the albums were covers of other songs. I had assumed that Klaus had written all of them himself. Klaus does have co-writing credit for "Wasting My Time," though. Nomi's version of "Lightning Strikes" and "You Don't Own Me" are so fresh and original, even to this day.  

The music scene has changed immensely since Klaus Nomi was on the scene. Had he had still been alive today, I think he would have been a real big star. I can picture him having duets with the likes of Lady Gaga, Madonna, and Michael Jackson. 

According to the sources I could find regarding Za Bakdaz, it was nowhere near complete. And you can tell that during listening to Za Bakdaz as there are a lot of rough edges, but even the raw stuff still has its moments. I really love the song "Enchante" for its lovely rhythm and voice. I think it would have sounded spectacular in its final form. 

I think that it's a shame that Klaus Nomi didn't get more spotlight in his lifetime. At the same time, I'm happy to have discovered his music. His music has taught me that it's okay to be different and that you can be weird and beautiful at the same time. 

Klaus Nomi performs "The Cold Song."

This was one of Klaus Nomi's final performances. He's used his costume to hide his Kaposi's Sarcoma. You can tell he's frail and dying, but is still giving his all in this performance. 

It's been 35 years since his death, and his legacy still lives on through his fans. 

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