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Why Peter Schilling quit music after the success of “Major Tom”


Why Peter Schilling quit music after the success of “Major Tom”

The German synthpop musician Peter Schilling was born in Stuttgart, West Germany in 1956, starting his career in 1982. He was one of the German artists who achieved success singing in their native language and then after making versions of their songs in English got to appear in the first position of the charts all over the world.


He is best know for the hit “Major Tom (Coming Home)” written by him and released in 1983. It became a number one hit in several countries and peaked at number 14 on the United States Billboard Hot 100.

One year after that he already had a record deal and was recording in the same studios as The Police in New York and becoming a good friend of artists like Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham.

But why Peter Schilling quit the music business for 12 years before returning again in the 90s?

Why Peter Schilling quit music after the success of “Major Tom”

Peter Schilling success happened so quickly that it wasn’t easy for him to cope with and proccess everything that was happening. He got the idea and started recording the demo of the famous track at home in the early 80s in Germany, after that they rushed into a studio and made his first album. With the version in English he was a global star and he really couldn’t proccess everything that was happening properly.

That’s what he explained¬† in an interview with “Top 2000 a gogo” in 2020 (Transcribed and translated by Rock and Roll Garage). “What makes a good song is that every element has been composed. You don’t just put in sweeps or swaps. Everything has been composed. That’s important in all my songs. Every element has it’s own history.”

“When I was a kid the universe fascinated me (…) The feeling of weightlessness feels meditative. That emptiness, I always had that longing for silence and that longing came to the fore in the shape of that song.”

Curiously, the famous track mentions the character Major Tom, created by David Bowie on his 1969 song “Space Oddity”. The British musician would also mention him in “Ashes to Ashes”, “Hallo Spaceboy” and “Blackstar”.

He continued:

“When the song was played on the radio, the station was overwhelmed by callers. The United States was really exciting. I recorded my album “Fehler im System” in English and it took off. I was constantly on flights, the whole world followed: Japan, Southeast Asia. (One year after recording the album I was) in the same New York studio as The Police and Andy Summers approaches me ans asks. I quote: ‘How did you make this fucking guitar sound?'”

“Or when you are in Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham’s garage in Los Angeles. It all goes fast, you just cannot comprehend. I cracked up, physically I just could not cope anymore. I was knackered, mentally, physically and creatively, I was a wreck. (So) I flew to New York, to the CEO at my label Elektra and asked him to cancel all my contracts. I could not go on.”

“When I walked in there I only weighed 54 kilos. I walked in and Bob right-away saw what the problem was. Against the norm in the business, in the industry, he agreed with my request, but added: Madison Square Garden was an option,” Peter Schilling said.

It took him 12 years to go back to the music business

The musicina also said that it was important to be out of the business for so long, because it was when he really understood what he was and found out what he wanted to do in his life.

“12 years (it took me to come back). In the 90s I learned a lot about myself. I was able to process my success quietly. Luckly I could afford to take all that time, financially.”

“That’s when I determined the course for the rest of my life and the way that I handled was perfect. Looking back it was perfect, I could not have done it any better,” Peter Schilling said.

Since his return, the musician has released several studio albums, most of them in German.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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