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Credit: NDR


Watch Nina Hagen perform before she became a punk

The daughter of acclaimed actor Eva-Maria Hagen, Nina Hagen was never going to shun the limelight for very long. By the time the punk revolution arrived in the seventies, Nina was more than ready to grab it, and the public, by the scruff of its neck and make it her own. With a series of provocative performances and rambunctious singles, Nina Hagen became an icon. But like all icons, she had to start somewhere.

Born in East Berlin, to the parents Hans Hagen, a prolific scriptwriter and actor Eva-Maria, Nina always had creativity in her blood. Her parents divorced just a few years after she was born and she shared a fractured relationship with her father. Soon enough, Nina was studying ballet and was widely regarded as an operatic prodigy to boot. Music was going to be the only way forward.

Hagen’s mother married Wolf Biermann when she was just 11-years-old and Biermann’s political views have been thought of as the jumping-off point for Hagen’s own political discourse. Eventually leaving Germany for Poland before returning again, Hagen was suddenly a full-time singer and an advantageous artist. After toying with performing as part of a covers band Fritzens Dampferband, a group who took on ‘allowable’ songs from the communist ruler’s handbook.

The need to create soon outweighed the need for the spotlight and Hagen took herself off to another band Automobil. It was with this band that she finally found her voice and began penning songs and punctuating performances with her unique style. One such track was ‘Du hast den Farbfilm vergessen’, which translated in English means ‘You Forgot The Colour Film’.

The track, released in 1974 prior to Hagen’s blistering punk career, was written by Michael Heubach and Kurt Demmler but performed by Hagen and her band Automobil. In this vintage clip from that time, though we can’t quite place the show, Hagen delivers every single piece of her uniqueness inside a single song.

It’s a track that highlights the idiosyncratic and intrinsic charisma Hagen had at her disposal. Recorded before she and Automobil left East Germany (following her step-father’s expulsion) and their commercially-successful self-titled debut, the song showcases one of the seventies’ undeniable unique entities in the wonderful Nina Hagen.

The group would break up in 1979 and leave Hagen pursuing her own talents, something she was more than capable of doing then and apparently, judging by this clip, when she was just a teen too.