Written by
Bob Stumpel

December 9

Ray Charles Ft. In KFBE Bio’s Bahnhof (1982)


On 15 July 1982 Ray Charles performed in the 28th episode of the German variety show KFBE Bio’s Bahnhof, hosted by Alfred Biolek (nicknamed Bio), and taped at the Railway Depot in Frechen. KFBE was an acronym for the Köln-Frechen-Benzelrather Eisenbahn.
The other guests were Alexander Arnz, Supercharge, Mario and Romano Colombaioni, Majorie Barnes, the Rollstuhlfahrer-Tanzgruppe der Technischen Universität München, Imrat Khan Family, Gustl Thoma, Serapions Theater, and the Peter Herbolzheimer Rhythm Combination*. Source here.

Trombonist Dan Marcus’ eye witness account of the gig adds some more flavor to the peculiar format of Bio’s show:

“Our show included a yodeling instructor, a bunch of dancers dressed up like evil Disney animal characters, rippin’ their way out of a giant grocery bag, and the afore-mentioned wheelchair dance group, which was a bunch of women ballroom dancers with their wheelchair-bound parapalegic husbands. […] The FUNNY part is that after a mad scramble up the Autobahn (it was raining, so Ray wouldn’t fly), a whole afternoon of rehearsal & sound-check with this high-powered band (I remember that Bob Coassin was playing lead trumpet […]), with Bio & his producers running around like high-stressed madmen trying to keep the obviously overbooked show (two hours of weird shit in a 90 minute bag) on the rails, the show runs long anyway, and with about 45 seconds of airtime left, they cue Ray to start What’d I Say. He goes to play the Rhodes intro & the sustain pedal’s frozen down (not good). So he of course freaks out & these techs scramble over and slide the Rhodes away from him to work on it. Unfortunately, [Ray] doesn’t realize that he is NOW no longer invisible from the waste down, and to end the bizarre show, the German public are treated to a live close-up two-shot of the Genius of Soul frustratedly & furiously scratching his balls. Cut to commercial…”

The good news is that the footage has survived. Ray, the girls, and (a portion of)* the band (in T-shirts!) performed:

  1. Riding Thumb

  2. I Can’t Stop Loving You

  3. What’d I Say

* Dean Congin remembers that a portion of the Ray Charles band was selected to play with Herbolzheimer’s group.

The bad news is that the Genius’ cojones didn’t play a really prominent part in the scene with the Rhodes (but what remains, is still funny to watch):

Video embedded for documentation purposes in the context of this blog only. Please don’t share this link.

Another bizarre sample of the show; much more on YouTube:


Frank Vöhringer — 2019-05-29 23:58:59

I was 13 when I saw this TV show. I had never heard of Ray Charles before nor had I seen anything like this (you wouldn't want to see what German TV usually broadcasted back then when it came to music). This TV moment, as confused and odd as it may seem from today's perspective, was a musical revelation for me: There is music with pure and sincere joy and energy that inevitably makes you move and lightens your heart! Ray Charles was the best musical ambassador that Bio could invite to bring this message to the Germans. I went to the record store the next day and bought a Ray Charles record, which I keep dearly still. For me music before and after this show were two different worlds. Thank you Ray Charles, thank you Alfred Biolek!

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