Agitation Free was about to split up due to a dispute concerning
the direction the band was to go, when Gustl and I, stubborn as we
were, decided against giving up. We were able to convince
Lüül to continue working with us, at least on a temporary basis.
Burghard and Höni were replaced by Harald Großkopf and Manfred
Opitz, with Os Mundi's Klaus Henrichs adding a new instrument, the
saxophone. Thus, a first step had been taken by finding
a new, though pretty unstable line-up. We found an ally in Udo
Arndt from the Berlin band Os Mundi, who later on was to co-produce
Nina Hagen and Nena and who shared a flat with me in Berlin's
Bayernallee. He was doing a kind of internship in the studios
of the Evangelical Radio Service and would always invite us to do
some recording as he had to get used to handling the equipment.
Udo Arndt in ERD-Tonstudio Photo by
Robert von Ravenstein
Regrettably, Lüül was in France whenever we had these sessions so
that he never featured on any of these recordings even if he
appeared on the photos taken at that time. Gustl and I,
however, made the best out of that unfortunate situation.
The 1974/74 line-up, unfortunately without Gustl.
Photo: Robert von Ravenstein
It was an essential part of Agitation Free's tradition to venture
into different musical worlds and to play together with many other
musicians. The band would always try new projects,
including arrays into "serious" music, but whenever we
indulged in jazzrock or politically oriented rock music, our record
company of that time refused publication of our efforts.
Nevertheless, we carried out many of these projects, inviting, as
usual, many friends to play with us as our guests and
trying out new musical directions.
Many recordings have survived, testimony of a time
full of fun with our friends, but they had to wait until now, 1999,
to be released on CD. These friends included:
Manfred Opitz, then keyboarder with Metropolis
Klaus Henrichs, then saxophone player with Os Mundi
Harald Großkopf, former drummer with Wallenstein
Constatin "Bommi" Bommarius, then drummer
The late Lou Blackburn, former trombone player with
Duke Ellington and band leader of Mombasa
Christian "Bino" Brero, double-bass player
with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, playing piano with us
Bernd Gruber, a church and jazz musician
Jochen Bauer, jazzrock drummer with many Berlin bands
Full of pride and conviction, we presented the tapes
recorded at the above-mentioned studios to our record company and
asked for them to be released. What a disappointment! We were told
that the stuff was too commercial, wouldn't find a market etc. This
led us to try different ways: we sent a tape to Kabul,
Afghanistan, to Hartmut Geerken, then managing director of the
local Goethe Institute, whom we had met before in Kairo, hoping
that he might organise a tour for us. Our record company, Musical
Factory/Phonogram, we thought, would then become
interested and release a new album.
We were wrong again! Geerken replied by giving
comments similar to the ones our record company had afforded us,
adding the quite humiliating suggestion that we might be able to
play at the Kabul Hilton Hotel. This meant that we had reached a
point where apparently nobody understood our music any longer
although we were using musical structures that were much more
concrete than before whilst still processing this more
"body-oriented" music in the same old Agitation Free
style. - These ignorants were simply unable to realise that we
wouldn't play like Klaus Doldinger but that we used our own,
tested style of music.
Pessimism was spreading, and we decided, after all, to
try our luck by making a fresh start with a new line-up and a
different name (Lagoona). Meanwhile, Lüül was spending more time in
France than in Berlin, which meant that the chapter Agitation Free
was apparently closed. As a consequence, Lagoona only
managed one tour through Denmark, never got a recording contract
and wasn't even granted the benefit of a recording session for
At that time, we were totally ignorant of what the
future would hold for us.
We were so shocked by our lack of success that, by the
end of 1975, we decided to put an end to Agitation Free and Lagoona
altogether. The members of the band went their own separate ways,
and, for sheer lack of money, I started to rent out the remaining
sound equipment. This got me into contact with the Nina
Hagen Band and Jim Rakete, but I couldn't know at the time that
Nina Hagen's and Spliff's guitarist would bring Agitation Free back
to life again 23 years later.
Moreover, particular incidents between 1975 and 1999
managed to keep at least the name of the band alive, but we had no
idea of what this would eventually lead to.