“Strangers in the Night”: Tangerine Dream’s Peter Baumann on a futuristic solo flight

By on August 7, 2018

“German-born Peter Baumann helped create the first spectacular laser light show, and pioneered the use of electronic technology in music” says Night Flight’s Pat Prescott in our “Take Off to Futurism,” which originally aired on November 25, 1988.

Watch this special episode of videos portraying post-apocalyptic futuristic scenarios today on on Night Flight Plus.

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“Using his custom-built synthesizer, Baumann linked video, lasers and light effects for his version of ‘Strangers in the Night’,” Ms. Prescott continues in her introduction for his strange, synth-rich electro-pop vocal track, a cover of Frank Sinatra‘s hit song from 1966.

Ex-Tangerine Dream synth player Peter Baumann’s “Strangers in the Night” — which reminded us of ’80s electro-pop acts like the Buggles and Human League — actually features lead vocals by Eli Holland, who Baumann hired to co-write lyrics and perform all of his album’s lead and harmony vocals.

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The original “Strangers in the Night” had started out as part of an instrumental score — titled “Beddy Bye” — from the 1966 film A Man Could Get Killed.

Sinatra’s version “doo-be-doo-be-doo”‘d its way to #1 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 and Easy Listening charts. It also charted at #1 in the UK.

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In 1967, the single won Sinatra Grammy Awards for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and for Record of the Year, and it earned Ernie Freeman a Grammy for Best Arrangement Accompanying a Vocalist or Instrumentalist.

Sinatra reportedly despised the track, though, calling it “a piece of shit” and “the worst fucking song that I have ever heard.”

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Baumann’s video was directed by Jay Dubin, who had only begun directing music videos a few years earlier after John Lennon asked him to film a 1980 recording session he and Yoko were doing for their upcoming Double Fantasy album.

Lennon was a fan of Dubin’s wacky NYC-area TV commercials for Crazy Eddie’s electronics (“Crazy Eddie’s prices are insane!”).

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Dubin spent just one day with Lennon in the studio — August 10, 1980 — filming Lennon recording “I’m Losing You,” “I’m Moving On” and several classic rock ‘n’ roll covers.

Then, when Lennon was shot and killed four months later, the film footage was collected and never shown again.

Dubin ended up directing more music videos for top acts like Hall & Oates, Billy Joel, and others before directing Baumann’s “Strangers in the Night.”

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Read more about Peter Baumann below.

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In the early 70s, Peter Baumann — born on January 29, 1953, in West Berlin — was playing piano in the American GI clubs in Berlin, and also playing with a band called the Ants.

In 1971, at age nineteen, he hit it off with Tangerine Dream’s Chistopher Franke at an Emerson, Lake & Palmer concert. Two weeks later, Franke told him that they needed a new keyboard player.

Baumann met with Edgar Froese — he’d founded Tangerine Dream in 1967 — who invited him to join the band for an open-ended stay, meaning Baumann could leave any time he wanted.

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Baumann’s talents can be heard on quite a few of Tangerine Dream’s landmark ’70s albums: Zeit (1972), Atem (1973), Phaedra (1974), Rubycon and Ricochet (both 1975), Stratosfear (1976), the soundtrack to William Friedkin‘s Sorcerer and Encore (both 1977) and Soundmill Navigator (recorded in 1976, but not released until 2000).

He also produced many seminal records in his Paragon recording studio (e.g. Conrad Schnitzler, Cluster, Hans-Joachim Roedelius).

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In 1976, Baumann composed his first solo album, Romance 76, while still an active member of Tangerine Dream.

He departed from the band a year later, embarking on a solo career and recording three albums under his own name: Trans Harmonic Nights (1979), Repeat Repeat (1981) and Strangers In The Night (1983).

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In 1984, Baumann moved to Los Angeles, CA, and founded his Private Music record company (he also owned a keyboard warehouse and a recording studio).

The idea was to have his Private Music issue contemporary instrumental recordings focusing on different genres, including new age (the label’s main focus), avant-garde and world music titles.

Private Music ended up releasing music by artists like Ravi Shankar, John Tesh, Andy Summers (of the Police), Patrick O’Hearn and Yanni, whose new age synth scores were being heard on a lot of American television shows at the time.

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Baumann also helped reboot the careers of jazz and blues icons such as Etta James and Taj Mahal.

He also began expanding into vocal releases too — releasing albums by Nona Hendryx and Suzanne Ciani — and signed a distribution deal with BMG International in 1988, although much of his label’s music was actually sold via direct mail.

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In 1988, he also signed the latest version of Edgar Froese’s Tangerine Dream, who would release five albums on Private Stock: Optical Race (1988), Miracle Mile and Lily On The Beach (both 1989), Melrose (1990) and The Private Music Of Tangerine Dream (1991).

In 1996, BMG purchased Baumann’s Private Music company and merged it with their Windham Hill new age label.

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These days, Baumann runs The Baumann Foundation, a 21st Century think tank that explores the experience of being human in the context of cognitive science, evolutionary theory and philosophy.

The foundation continues to pursue its fundamental mission, to foster greater clarity about the human condition, by organizing initiatives that facilitate scientific research and promote discussions between scientists, contemplatives, and the public. (Check out their website).

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Baumann’s futuristic solo flight video is accompanied here by music videos by other ’80s-era artists like Bonnie Tyler, Zebra, A Flock of Seagulls, Rush, Styx, Devo, the Earons, Re-Flex, and Rick Springfield.

Watch Night Flight’s “Take Off to Futurism” and other “Take Off” episodes on Night Flight Plus!

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.
  • Out There Movies

    Geez, what an interesting dude behind some seriously awesome music.