German jazz singer Roger Cicero dies, aged 45

Roger Cicero: Germany's jazz talent

The voice of a crooner

Roger Cicero had become renowned for his live gigs featuring big bands and guest stars, but was a reclusive character in his private life. Cicero would take several months to produce new albums, seeking inspiration in isolation. His last major tour, "The Roger Cicero Jazz Experience," took place in 2013; tours for 2014 and 2015 were cancelled with the onset of chronic fatigue syndrome.

Roger Cicero: Germany's jazz talent

At home in the limelight

Hardly any other German performer wore as many hats as Roger Cicero - both literally and figuratively. In addition to his accomplishments as a stage performer, Cicero had worked on a number of outstanding collaborations as a jazz pianist and made a foray into acting in the 2009 biopic "Hilde," based on the life of German superstar Hildegard Knef.

Roger Cicero: Germany's jazz talent

The voice of several generations

Roger Cicero's albums broke records at a time when jazz had just started celebrating a comeback internationally, with performers like Robbie Williams, Jamie Cullum and Michael Bublé adding a contemporary touch to the classic style of swing. Cicero was also one of those vanguards, representing Germany's take on finger-snapping tunes and brassy renditions of American songbook standards.

Roger Cicero: Germany's jazz talent

Winner and loser

Cicero garnered an Echo award - the highest prize in the German music industry - in 2007. That same year he failed to gain high scores for Germany at the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) held in Helsinki, but put Germany firmly back on the map as a strong contender in Europe's popular annual music event.

Roger Cicero: Germany's jazz talent

Man business and girl power

Roger Cicero competed at the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) in 2007 with his hit track "Frauen regier'n die Welt" ("Women Rule the World"). The song provided a certain contrast to the title of his 2006 debut album, "Männersachen" ("Man Business"). One of the few German celebrities to enthuse people from both genders, Cicero collaborated with many artists, like German singer Yvonne Catterfield.

Roger Cicero: Germany's jazz talent

Reflective notes

Roger Cicero also proved his talent as a lyricist and songwriter, with his poetic and insightful lyrics often reminiscent of a surprisingly old-fashioned style. He was celebrated as a charismatic on-stage entertainer as much as he was considered a thoughful wordsmith, often adding humor to his verses. No matter in what capacity he got to live out his creative talent, Cicero rarely stood still.

Roger Cicero: Germany's jazz talent

Living on borrowed time

Roger Cicero had many plans for 2016; his latest album "The Roger Cicero Jazz Experience" was nominated for an Echo Award, and there were tours and public engagements throughout the year. However, this non-stop schedule caused a number of health issues, starting with chronic fatigue sydrome, which led to an acute case of myocarditis. Cicero died, aged 45, following a stroke on March 24, 2015.

Germany's best-known jazz performer has died after being diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. His career spanned almost 15 years, making him one of Germany's most beloved musical celebrities.

Cicero was born into a musical family, with his father a renowned jazz pianist and his mother a professional dancer. Cicero started performing publicly alongside famous German acts like Helen Vita at the age of 11. He later studied at the Hohner conservatory, focusing on piano and voice.

Cicero continued his studies in jazz singing in the Netherlands and established the Roger Cicero jazz quartet in 2003. Shortly thereafter he shifted his focus to swing, playing with big bands and recapturing the sounds of the post-war era. By 2006, he had become a household name in Germany. Cicero was particularly known for his interpretations on Frank Sinatra songs, which he worked on until his death.

Other career highlights included his participation in 2007 Eurovision Song Contest, where he represented Germany in the Finnish capital Helsinki.

His song, "Frauen regier'n die Welt" (translation: "Women Rule the World") only managed to place 19th but started establishing Germany as a serious contender again.

Cicero also featured in the movie "Hilde," a biographic film based on the life of Hildegard Knef, Germany's most famous post-war actress and singer. In 2012, he also recorded "Für nichts auf dieser Welt" - Germany's anthem for the 2012 UEFA European Soccer Championship.

Cicero had suffered chronic fatigue syndrome, which reportedly led to his untimely death through a sudden stroke on Thursday, March 24. His family made the news of his death public on Tuesday (29.03.2016). Cicero was 45 years old.

DW has compiled a Spotfiy playlist in memory of Roger Cicero. Listen here:

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