'Panic rocker' Udo Lindenberg now has his own museum

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At home with your own city

Panik City would have been inconceivable anywhere else. For decades, the musician has lived in Hamburg's Hotel Atlantic, and he declared his love for the red light district's "Reeperbahn" street in the song of that name. The "Udo Lindenberg Experience" associates his artistic career with the history of the "Colorful Republic of Germany."

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Ode to the twin-stroke engine

With the mighty symbolism of a twin-stroke engine and its pungent exhaust fumes — such as this iconic beauty from the former East Germany — who needs a luxury limousine? Some thought Lindenberg was talking nonsense when he spoke about the reunification of divided Germany. Actually, he was prophetic. Even before 1990, he had no qualms about traveling to the German Democratic Republic.

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Performing in the East

In 1975, "Rock 'n' Roll Arena in Jena" told of Lindenberg's dream of playing in that East German city. In 1983, he actually did agree to perform in East Berlin's Palace of the Republic — in protest of NATO's nuclear missile deployment and on the condition that he'd be permitted to tour the GDR — but that concert turned out to be the only one before the communist country ceased to exist.

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Honecker's buddy — in song

Lindenberg waves from a Berlin subway train bound for Pankow, 22 years after the song "Sonderzug nach Pankow" ("Pankow Express") was released. Pankow was a suburb in the East, out of reach for West Berliners. In the song, he pals up with East German leader Erich Honecker, the "chieftain" who "secretly listens to Western broadcasts in the bathroom." Lindenberg "brought along a bottle of cognac."

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In crisis

Lindenberg has been a star in the West since the 1970s, but after a new era began for unified Germany in 1990, alcohol abuse led to a personal and artistic crisis. His excesses were detrimental to the quality of his songs, record sales were down and his trademark outfit of a hat and sunglasses started to look like a caricature.

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Success, not only in words

It was a time when Lindenberg discovered painting — and triumphed there too. A number of exhibitions, two personally-designed special postage stamps and a UNICEF Christmas card proved his pictures were in demand. Some are even rumored to hang in the national chancellery.

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Incomparable comeback

Many artists never find their way out of creative or existential crises. In fact, Lindenberg later said his dark days might have ended differently. But the "panic rocker" did make a rare comeback. In 2008, Lindenberg's album "Stark wie Zwei" ("As Strong as Two") hit the album chart's top spot in Germany.

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With a little help from his friends

Helping his comeback were artists like Jan Delay, who called Lindenberg an idol and a poet and probably showed him the way to modern music styles. It was the beginning of years of victory marches in stadium tours. Lindenberg didn't even need to release a new album. But in 2016, he did — called "Stärker als die Zeit" ("Stronger Than Time").

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Love story

January 2011 saw the premiere of the musical "Hinterm Horizont" ("Beyond the Horizon"). Based on a true story, it tells of how Lindenberg, at his concert in East Germany's Palace of the Republic, falls in love with an activist of the communist state's youth association (FDJ). After five years of performances were attended by 2 million visitors in Berlin, the musical played in Hamburg for a year.

The self-declared "panic rocker" and peace activist Udo Lindenberg flew high, fell far and came back "like a phoenix from the bottle." At the opening of his Panik City museum, here are some of the stages of his life.

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