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  EDITORIAL:  In Defense of Claus
by B.J. Major
10/07/06


Yes, that sounds like a loaded title, but it's true and is the situation I find myself in at present.  Not that I believe you are incapable of making up your own mind, but now it appears we have a book on the horizon, written by James Last (yes, THAT James Last, the German bandleader) which does not put CO in a very favorable light.  It puts him in a pretty questionable light, in fact. 

The book is "Mein Leben" by James Last with Thomas Macho, printed by Random House/Heyne books in Germany, September 2006.  I have not seen the book yet myself, but from what I was just told about it from a contact in Germany who has seen it, there is much misinformation and the author(s) even incorrectly identifies a photograph of someone who is NOT Claus Ogerman, as Claus!!

On page 232, there is a story concerning the meeting between Claus Ogerman and James Last in 1967 in N.Y.  It was the wish of one of James Last's producers that Ogerman should be the American producer of James Last (for example, to issue the LPs in the U.S.). Last writes about Ogerman:

"[. . .]His private life was chaotic.  Sometimes he didn't know where left and right was.  Sometimes he was married, sometimes he had a friend, a seldom figure.  Klaus lived in a big penthouse in New York. . . . After a few drinks, he served coffee where he put something into it.... All the guests after that had a flash.

Klaus Ogermann produced the american version of the LP "That's Life" under the title "The Big Brass Of The American Patrol".  But then all the other plans were destroyed because Klaus was too dispersed and he had to much to do...."

 
I am greatly offended that someone would write - even out of spite or jealousy - that Claus Ogerman used drugs of any kind OR that he gave drugs to others, as implied in the quote above.  It is also pretty much common knowledge that Claus has had the same wife since 1959; I have no idea where these allegations about being married "sometimes"; having a girlfriend "sometimes" come from.  I don't know what is happening here, but Mr. Last has a LOT of explaning to do.  Is he disgruntled or envious because Claus has enjoyed such a successful career for so long a time?  Or is it something else entirely?  Is Mr. Last suffering from some kind of memory loss or mixing Claus up with another person who did these things?  You would think that events like this would be verified before including them into an autobiographical book.

If Claus were truly doing all the reckless behavior described in Last's book, I don't see any possible way that he would have accomplished the sheer volume of work he did in the 1960s (and beyond).  Over 60 albums for Creed Taylor on Verve during that time.  Not to mention all the work he did in that same decade for RCA, Mercury, Reprise, A&M/CTi and other labels.  An arranger the likes of which we have seen in Claus needs a clear head and a focused mind to churn out the volume and quality of arrangements the way he did back then, for every Pop, R&B and Jazz star under the sun and then some.  Claus' noted career with Antonio Carlos Jobim also began and flourished within this same period.  I simply don't see how it is possible that Claus could have used drugs - even recreationally - and accomplished what he did.

And it did not appear that Claus stopped working for very long from one assignment to the next (especially if what Gene Lees says about Claus is correct, where he was writing out the scores in taxicab commutes going across town from one studio to another).  Can you say "constant deadlines"?!

Even if I could read German, I would have no desire to read this book written by James Last; it would make me absolutely sick to read these allegations about Claus.  Buyer beware!



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