R.I.P.   Vince Weber

Vince Weber, my friend and musical blood brother, has passed away on February 23rd, 2020, after long and severe illness. From the beginning, his completely personal Blues- and Boogie Woogie-piano style, full of deep expression and uninhibited power, and his inimitable Blues shouting vocals were new and exciting. Such was unheard of in our area, particularly not from a German. Inspired by pianists like Otis Spann, Roosevelt Sykes, Meade „Lux“ Lewis, Big Maceo Merriweather or Stevie Winwood and influenced by Hamburg’s Blues- and Boogie Woogie pioneer Hans-Georg Moeller, Vince impressed with his charismatic performances and became the role model for many young Blues- and Boogie pianists.

Born in Hamburg on October 26, 1953, he basically taught himself to play Blues piano and began to perform in the city’s smoky Jazz- and Blues clubs in the early 1970s. At this time, a small circle of Boogie- and Blues pianists from Hamburg and Vienna emerged. Besides Vince and Hans-Georg Moeller, also Martin Pyrker from Vienna and myself were part of it. Night long sessions, when- and whereever possible, provided fun and friendly competition, in which each of us could shine with his personal way of playing, reminiscent of the piano contests in ancient Chicago.

Vince was the first to establish a wide following, thus laying one of the foundation stones for the 1970s Boogie Woogie renaissance. A tour with comedian Otto Waalkes brought him into the large halls, and his sold-out monthly concerts at Hamburg’s „Fabrik“ for 14 consecutive years were legendary. His debut LP „The Boogie Man“ received the Deutscher Schallplattenpreis (German record award) in 1976. His following LPs were big sales hits as well. Vince travelled through the United States, performed at numerous festivals and met many legendary Blues artists, such as Champion Jack Dupree, Alex Moore, Roosevelt Sykes, Jay McShann und Buddy Guy, just to name a few. For several years, he hosted the Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) radio show „Blues am Dienstag“ (Blues on Tuesday) and also recorded with the NDR Big Band. From 1986 on, we toured together with two grand pianos. These concerts spanned from Germany and Europe to Detroit in the United States. Although stylistically quite opposite, we had a mutual understanding when playing together, thanks to the intense session practice of our formative years.

Vince, whose favourite number was the 8, had the idea to celebrate a „Day of the Boogie Woogie Piano“ on 8-8-88, which became the birth hour of the „Hamburg Boogie Woogie Connection“ at the Fabrik. This first wild festival session night turned out to be the germ cell for the numerous Boogie Woogie festivals which trademark today’s Boogie Woogie scene. Until last, Vince, together with me, hosted the annual „Hamburg Boogie Woogie Connection“ at the Fabrik on August 8th. His performance at the 30-years anniversary of the „Connection“ was his last one – final chord of a great musician’s life. „I am on cloud no. 8 and play harp.“ Farewell, old friend – we’ll miss you!

Axel Zwingenberger