Happy Birthday: Peter Schilling

Monday, January 28, 2019
Peter Schilling, THE DIFFERENT STORY Album Cover

Today we celebrate the birthday of a German gentleman who is considered a synthpop legend in certain circles, as well he should be. In the US, however, his predominant claim to fame is for a song which was effectively a retelling of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” (even if the connection was purely an unofficial one).


Born Pierre Michael Schilling in Stuttgart, Germany, our man Peter released his debut album, FEHLER IN SYSTEM in Germany in 1982, earning himself a #1 album on the German charts, but it wasn’t until the following year that a tweaked version of the LP made its way to America. Bearing a new English title – ERROR IN THE SYSTEM – the album made a slight impact in the States, climbing to #61 on the Billboard 200, but the populace of the Great White North fell head over heels for the LP, turning it into a #1 album in Canada.


Not entirely surprisingly, Schilling’s single, “Major Tom (Coming Home),” also hit #1 in Canada, and it went top-20 in the States, climbing to #14. Unfortunately, it would be the last time he saw any chart action in the States for five years, at which point he earned a minor comeback with “The Different Story (World of Lust and Crime),” a single which served as the title track for a best-of compilation. The single itself hit #61 in the US, but the compilation failed to chart, and Schilling has yet to trouble the Hot 100 again.


That said, Schilling’s work is definitely worthy of reappraisal, particularly by those who enjoyed “Major Tom (Coming Home)” but never realized that he even had any other songs in his discography. As a birthday present to Herr Schilling, give his compilation THE DIFFERENT STORY (WORLD OF LUST AND CRIME) a spin, just so you can hear what you’ve been missing.

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