Volker Krieger, a father figure of jazz-rock in Germany in the 1970s, died June 16 of cancer in Spain. He was 59.
At the advice of friends, Krieger abandoned his sociology studies to become a full-time musician in the 1960s. He spent a good deal of his student years in the jazz bars of Frankfurt and was awarded best instrumentalist of the Duesseldorf Amateur Jazz Festival in 1963. He released his debut album in 1968 and became a member of the newly founded Dave Pike Set that same year.
Krieger’s landmark solo albums “Spectrum” and “Inside: Missing Link” in 1971-72 are largely credited with earning his reputation as a fountainhead of fusion jazz and as one of the most influential German jazz guitarists of his generation.
In 1976 he founded the Mild Maniac Orchestra and was an on-and-off member of Wolfgang Dauner’s United Jazz & Rock Ensemble. His collaborations included Klaus Doldinger’s Passport, Alexis Korner, Don “Sugarcane” Harris and Percy Heath.
Although best known as a pioneering electric guitarist, Krieger was also a composer for film and television as well as a gifted caricaturist and author. During the 1980s, he shifted his focus of activity to predominantly writing and illustrating witty children’s books such as “Der Rock ‘n’ Roll Konig” (The Rock ‘n’ Roll King) series and the “Olaf dem Elch” (Olaf the Moose) series. By the ’90s, Krieger had basically withdrawn from the music scene.
While some deemed his playing style too academic at times, his writings showed him to be a distant and often sarcastic observer of intellectual attitudes. Jazz fans remember his advisory guide to ‘Species of Jazz Critics’.
Krieger appears on the recent Universal Boutique compilation “Psychedelic Jazz”.