Udo Dirkschneider

The singer and figurehead of DATOG is Udo Dirkschneider. Born on 6th April 1952 in Wuppertal, Udo received the Beatles record “I'm Down” from his parents at the age of twelve and was obsessed with music from then on. With the discovery of the Rolling Stones, however, he came to the realisation that the Beatles were actually not rocky enough for him. With his first portable record player, which he got for Christmas and regularly lugged to school, Udo caught the attention of his classmate Michael Wagener. A few years later, Wagener became one of the most important cornerstones in Udo's early career and subsequently became world famous as a music producer (Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper, and many others). However, at school Udo was initially less interested in singing than he was in playing guitar and keyboards. It was not until he had recognised his voice was his most important artistic medium, that his career took its course.  

At the age of 16, Udo founded the group “Band X”. Up until 1971, the group played in numerous clubs and eventually changed its name to Accept. When Udo had found the perfect line-up, Accept got their breakthrough, through a competition in Düsseldorf in September 1977, the band came third and received their first record deal a little later.

In 1978, the self-titled debut album was released, with raw ard hard rock numbers that, for that time, almost amounted to a cultural revolution. The second album, “I'm A Rebel”, was already released in 1979, with a stylistically yet still, somewhat ambiguous and rather experimental profile. This changed abruptly in 1980 with the third release “Breaker”, which surprised everyone, with its, at least for German bands, remarkably rough direction. “Breaker” brought Accept their European breakthrough and their first headlining shows. After two tours with Judas Priest and Def Leppard through Great Britain, Germany, Belgium and Holland, Udo and his colleagues made the decision in autumn 1981 to make both band and music their profession.

In spring / summer 1982, the recordings for “Restless And Wild” began in the renowned “Dierks Studio” in Cologne, an album that caused a sensation, especially in America! At the same time, Udo and Michael Wagener founded the production company “Double Trouble”, which produced acts such as Raven, Faithfull Breath, Street Fighter, etc.

A year later, again at “Dierks Studio”, the production of “Balls To The Wall”, the ultimate Accept classic followed. After concerts in Europe in autumn 1983, the band went on a lengthy tour through America, Canada, France, Spain and Germany, from February 1984 also as “special guests” of Kiss, Iron Maiden and Saxon, among others but also as headliner themselves. This was followed by sensational concerts at the famous “Monsters Of Rock” festivals in Castle Donington, Karlsruhe and Nuremberg, with other acts and artists such as AC/DC, Van Halen, Ozzy Osbourne, Dio, Mötley Crüe and Gary Moore.

In the autumn / winter 1984, the recordings for “Metal Heart” took place again in “Dierks Studio”, for the first time in direct collaboration with Scorpions producer and studio owner Dieter Dierks himself. A world tour followed from February to September 1985 with the first ever performances in Japan. Only a few weeks later, the album “Russian Roulette” was recorded, once again in Dierks' studio, followed by another world tour between March and December 1986.

In spring 1987 Accept parted ways with their frontman and Udo formed his own band U.D.O.. Their debut album “Animal House” was still mostly a co-operation with his former Accept colleagues and was considered by critics to be the stronger work compared to “Eat The Heat”, the first (and only) Accept album with Udo's successor David Reece at the microphone. Also successful was the first U.D.O. world tour. In 1989, with a changed line-up and even greater success, the second album “Mean Machine” was released (it stayed in the album charts for five weeks).

After Stefan Kaufmann had left Accept in 1989 due to disagreements with the singer David Reece, Udo and Kaufmann worked together once again. In 1990 and 1991 Kaufmann produced the U.D.O. albums “Faceless World” and “Timebomb”.

In spring 1992, initial talks took place between Udo, Wolf Hoffmann, Peter Baltes and Stefan Kaufmann with the aim to revive Accept in the original line-up. The result of the talks was made public in February 1993, “Objection Overruled”, Udo's Accept comeback, composed and produced in Hoffmann's and Kaufmann's own “ROXX Studio” and mixed in the “Dierks Studio”. From April to November 1993, this original Accept line-up went once more, on yet another world tour.

In spring 1994 “Death Row” was recorded, this time not only the recording but also the mixing took place in the “ROXX-Studio”. However, Stefan Kaufmann had to leave the band during the production due to health problems and could not take part in the following world tour from June 1994. In 1995 followed the studio recordings for “Predator” and from February to June 1996 yet another world-wide concert tour. However, the mood within the band was already at a low point during the “Predator” production, so the decision was made during the concerts to finally put an end to Accept. Wolf Hoffmann and Peter Baltes then temporarily withdrew from the music business.

Udo and Stefan Kaufmann (Stefan, this time as a guitarist), both decided immediately to revive U.D.O. and produced the album “Solid” in that same year at the “ROXX Studio”, followed by “No Limits” (1998), “Holy” (1999), “Man And Machine” (2002), “Thunderball” (2004), “Mission No. X” (2005), “Mastercutor” (2007), “Dominator” (2009) and “Rev-Raptor” (2011). Each of these releases was toured extensively worldwide.

After Stefan finaly left the band in September 2012 due to a recurring back problem, Udo put together a new line-up in October 2012. He changed the U.D.O. line-up and they gave their debut performance on 9th February 2013 and released the album “Steelhammer” in May 2013. During the subsequent world tour, U.D.O. recorded the concerts in Russia, “Live From Moscow” then went on sale in 2014.

At the same time, “Steelhammer” producer Martin “Mattes” Pfeiffer, made initial contact with the Nordsee Marine Music Corps and its frigate captain Lutz Bammler. The resulting co-operation culminated in an exclusive U.D.O. concert with the music corps in Tuttlingen in southern Germany in February 2014 and finally led to the “live” DVD “Navy Metal Night”, released in July 2015. The studio album “Decadent” had already been released in January 2015, produced by Udo, “Mattes” Pfeiffer and U.D.O. bassist Fitty Wienhold and mastered by Jacob Hansen.

When the position of drummer became vacant in U.D.O. in early 2015, Udo's son Sven took over the this position. On 6th March 2015, father and son Dirkschneider performed together on stage for the first time in Würzburg.

Due to the great demand, there was another orchestra cooperation in spring 2015, this time with the “Musikkorps der Bundeswehr”. The highlight of this co-operation being, the legendary performance at the Wacken Open Air on 30th July 2015. Shortly afterwards, U.D.O. went on the large-scale “Decadent” tour.

Since Udo was always asked about his past and the band's big hits in almost every interview, more than 20 years after his final exit from Accept, he decided in 2016 to play a few selected gigs consisting of exclusively selected classic Accept material. The worldwide interest of concert promoters in this new concept was so great, that two complete tours took place under the project name "Dirkschneider". Both of the two concert tours were documented on CD / DVD / Blu-Ray. “Live” - “Back To The Roots”, recorded in Memmingen in December 2016, and “Back To The Roots - Accepted” from Brno in the Czech Republic, were released in August 2017.

Work on the next album “Steelfactory” had already begun in March 2017, to which Stefan Kaufmann contributed some songs and for which he was also responsible for supervising all the vocal recordings due to the illness of the album's producer. “Steelfactory” was released on 31 August 2018, since the release of  this album, Kaufmann has handled all of the band's vocal recordings and following the departure of the previous guitarist, has also taken on the role of "stand-in guitarist" at a number of key 2018 festivals, including an U.D.O. concert with the German Armed Forces Music Corps, where the idea for the album “We Are One” was born.

In September 2018, the “Dirkschneider Project” was presented with the award for best “live” band at the “Metal Hammer Awards” in Berlin. Shortly after, to everyones great surprise, Peter Baltes, who had also contributed some songs to “We Are One”, announced his departure from Accept. Due to the co-operation on “We Are One”, there had been several meetings between him, Udo and Stefan Kaufmann during the one-year production of the album. Now, after Baltes' departure from Accept, the idea for 'Dirkschneider & The Old Gang' was born, for which former U.D.O. guitarist Mathias Dieth, Udo's son Sven and singer Manuela Bibert (known, among other things, for her duet with Udo on the album “We Are One”), were also be recruited.

In May 2020, the version of the song “Where The Angels Fly”, a left over from the album “We Are One”, was first released on YouTube with the German Armed Forces Music Corps, then Udo, Peter Baltes and Stefan Kaufmann rearranged the number and turned it into a thoroughbred rock track. The result: in September 2020, you could suddenly find a low-budget video clip of the new version on YouTube. The prompt reaction of the fans was overwhelming! Without any advertising or marketing measures, the clip was clicked millions of times within a few months. The second DATOG song “Face Of A Stranger” hit the web on 29th April 2021, followed by a third clip, “Every Heart Is Burning”, on 28th May 2021. A single featuring all three songs will now hit the shops on 27th August 2021 as a CD, a 12" vinyl and, or a download.

Status May 2021

Dirkschneider & The Old Gang