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Heino, whose real name is Heinz Georg Kramm, is a German pop singer. He also appears under other pseudonyms such as Gio Bilk, Bilk Gio, G. Bilk and H. Bilk. Heino gained great fame through the interpretation of various folk songs and as a pop singer, but he was also active in other genres. His black sunglasses and his blond hair in combination with his distinctive baritone became his trademark and made him a folk music luminary.
Heino was born in 1938 in the Oberbilk district of Düsseldorf, the son of the dentist Heinrich Kramm and his wife Franziska. However, Heino’s father died during World War II in 1941. His grandfather was also organist in Cologne Cathedral and his cousins were pastors. However, Heino’s school enrollment took place in Grossenhain in Saxony in 1944. Due to the ongoing war, the family was evacuated to Pomerania, where Heino lived as an orphan with his mother and his sister Hannelore, who was five years his senior. When World War II ended, the family returned to their hometown of Düsseldorf.
There Heino completed an apprenticeship as a baker and confectioner in 1952, which he successfully completed after three years with his journeyman’s examination at the Düsseldorf Chamber of Crafts. When he was young, Heino was also a passionate soccer player at the SC Schwarz-Weiß 06 club in Düsseldorf-Oberbilk. He still keeps in touch with the club to this day. In 1959, Heino married for the first time the then 18-year-old Henriette Heppner, with whom he also had his first son, Uwe. After four years of marriage, the couple divorced again. Heino had a daughter in 1968, who took her own life in 2003, like her mother before her. In 1965 Heino married a second time. However, his marriage to his then wife Lilo Kramm also ended in 1978. Heino gained his first musical experience in 1961 in the form of performances with the music group “OK Singers” with whom he recorded a record, which was only moderately successful.
Heino made his big breakthrough in 1965 together with his former group “Comedien Terzett” with an appearance at a fashion show by pop star Ralf Bendix. He was immediately enthusiastic about Heino and produced all of his songs over the next 20 years. The first record with the title “Beyond the Valley” sold more than 100,000 copies right away. The great success resulted in numerous other publications and appearances in the ZDF hit parade as well as in the Star Parade. From 1977 to 1979 the 14-part series “Sing mit Heino” was broadcast on ZDF. In 1983, Heino sang the song “Sunshine – Happyness” for the ARD television lottery before he withdrew artistically. At the beginning of the 1990s, Heino started a large number of tours and live performances all over the world and was thus able to gain international fame and reputation.
An absolute milestone in Heino’s career is the publication of his classic “The Enzian is Blue in Bloom”. The song was later re-released as a rap version to appeal to a younger audience. In terms of sales, Heino was able to achieve his greatest success with his cover album “Best regards”. The album was certified platinum for selling more than 200,000 units. The album started at number 1 in the German album charts. In 1990, Heino received the Bambi in the “Unknockable Stars” category. 10 years later Heino was awarded the crown of folk music for his musical oeuvre and in 2005 for his life’s work. In 2019 he also received the title “Honorary Citizen of the City of Bad Münstereifel”.
“Actually, I was the first Green, I’ve always sung about meadows and forests.”
“It’s great to be recognized.”
“Most of folk music is, to put it bluntly, just crap.”
Heino’s stage name actually comes from the fact that his older sister Hannelore couldn’t pronounce his real name Heinz Georg correctly. Because of this fact, she gave her brother the nickname Heino, which has remained his artist pseudonym to this day.