Instead with a drum roll or a fanfare we, the team of MIG Music, congratulate Peter Rüchel today on his 80th birthday with – how else – a Rockpalast clip, a fine serenade by Telecaster wizard Roy Buchanan. Happy birthday, Peter, and keep on rockin’!
Peter Rüchel is one of the fathers of the TV format “Rockpalast”. His birthday will not be the only thing to celebrate this year – forty years ago, in the night from July 22 to 23, 1977, German television proudly presented the very first rock night at the Grugahalle in Essen.
This location was the best, as Rüchel explained in an interview with the German newspaper WAZ, as the WDR, West German TV and radio station, wanted to braodcast all over the area of North Rhine Westfalia: “Cologne was too near, the Dortmund Westfalenhalle was too big while the Grugahalle in Essen was the perfect fit in size and atmosphere.”
With its “Rockpalast” the WDR has written worldwide television history. Airing a rock concert live and in full length – that had never been done before. On a saturday, at a time when everyone usually was going out to party. It began directly after the German news at a quarter past eight. At first there came the Eurovision intro because – and that was also new – the show was aired simultaneously to another seven countries and broadcast on the radio. So you could – even before the era of digital and HD – receive and hear the full sound of the concert on your home stereo equipment.
Later, more and more European countries plugged in for the “Rockpalast” nights. Ranges, the record industry can only dream of these days. One show reached even more people in Europe than you could get with a complete tour, not to mention the sales after such a night.
Soon, twice a year , on the occasion of a “Rockpalast” night, rock fans all over Europe met and had parties. And thus the “Rockpalast” nights might have played their part in promoting the coexistence within Europe.
With the emergence of private stations, MTV and the pressure of ratings the situation changed. In 1986, it was the end for the transmission of the “Rockpalast” nights. The brand “Rockpalast” however lives on, only now, bands are being presented and broadcast also on the internet.
In his book “Rockpalast”, Peter Rüchel recollects special moments and highlights of the early phase, along with lots of photos from behind the scenes.
MIG Music’s Managing Director Manfred Schütz only met Peter Rüchel rather late, as he remembers, after the “wild time” of the “Rockpalast”. “That was in 2007 when we wanted to produce the first Rockpalast DVDs with SPV.” And he is listing all six of the very first releases being produced then: John Cippolina, Dicky Betts, Jorma Kaukonen, Spirit, Paul Butterfield und Commander Cody. Meanwhile there are nearly fifty concerts available. And many more lie in the Rockpalast vaults of the WDR waiting to be rediscovered and released. Still, much work ahead..