Born Berthold Heinrich Kaempfert in Barmbek, Hamburg on 16 October 1923, it was a twist of fate that caused Bert Kaempfert to embark on a musical career. At the age of six, he was knocked down by a taxi cab, and his mother wisely used the damages awarded to buy the young lad a piano. Bert took to this like a duck to water, and mastered the clarinet and accordion as well. Aged just sixteen, he joined the Hans Busch band and went on tour with them. Once the war had taken hold, Kaempfert was drafted into a German Navy band, and for a few months in 1945, became a prisoner-of-war of the British, interned in Denmark. On his release in September, he found himself in charge of an 18-man band, all recruited from fellow internees.
The following year, with his band trimmed down to a sextet, Bert moved to Bremerhaven where he proved to be a popular attraction at American Officers Clubs. In 1948 Bert, now a married man, moved to Hamburg and dissolved the band in order to concentrate more on composing and arranging for recordings and radio broadcasts. At this time he adopted the pseudonym 'Marc Bones' for his compositions.
During the 1950s, he became a producer and talent scout for the Hamburg-based record company, Polydor. With a small ensemble, he began performing some of his compositions, such as Catalania, Ducky, Las Vegas and Louisa (all included on this collection). As arranger and producer, Kaempfert had major hits in 1959 in collaboration with vocalists Freddy Quinn and Ivo Robic, and the following year arranged 'Wooden Heart' for Elvis Presley for the film 'G I Blues'. The selections featured on this compilation are taken from albums recorded between 1959 and 1961. Some of the tracks feature the trumpet playing of Charles Tabor, while others utilise a choir with 'wordless vocals'.
In 1960 Bert Kaempfert headed for New York, and in January of the following year scored a No.1 hit there in the Billboard charts with Wonderland By Night. Bert had, at last, become a major star on the international scene, and the following two decades were very busy and successful years where his composing, arranging, recording and producing skills were put to good use. During the 1970s, he took to touring with his band, and became immensely popular in the UK. His last appearance was at London's Royal Albert Hall on 16 June 1980.
Alas, just five days later, the news filtered through that Bert Kaempfert had died after suffering a stroke at his holiday home in Majorca. He was just 56 years old.
In 1993, he was posthumously inducted into America's Songwriters' 'Hall of Fame', and in that same year, Bert's daughter Marion re-formed the Bert Kaempfert Orchestra which continues to delight audiences under the leadership of trumpet player Tony Fisher.
Leaving the last word to Bert Kaempfert himself - his succinct credo was simple and direct: "I want to make music for everyone. It must be enjoyed by all. Otherwise it is pointless."