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|Years Active||1942-1945, 1949|
|Genre(s)||Rock and Roll, Heavy Metal, Disco, Funk, Blues, Country, Western, Jazz|
|Label(s)||Hammelburg Records - 1942 - 1945, Atlantic Records - 1949|
|Members|| Robert Hogan|
|Former Members|| Vladimir Minsk|
Hogan’s Heroes was a band formed in World War II by a group of POWs in the prison camp Luft Stalag 13, located outside of Hammelburg, Germany. The band was actually a front for their secret espionage ring, being an excuse to get to their targets without being caught by the Germans & having to spend time in the cooler. They played a variety of musical genres & were responsible for a number of musical innovations (see below). Despite the obvious connections between their live performances & the acts of sabotage committed, Colonel Klink, the leader of the camp & the other personnel of Stalag 13 remained oblivious to their activities.
America enters the war
With the USA’s entry into WWII, prison camps in Germany were starting to receive their first American prisoners. At one particular camp, an American colonel by the name of Robert Hogan came up with a brilliant idea: Instead of trying to escape, why not stay behind & sabotage the German war effort? The problem with this idea was that they needed a front for their operations so they wouldn’t get caught.
The beginning of the band
After a long brainstorming session & many rejected ideas, including: a restaurant, a casino, a museum, and so on, someone came up with the idea of forming a band. To this end, Hogan recruited five other people with musical talent: Sergeant James Kinchloe (USA), Corporal Louis Lebeau (France), Cpl. Peter Newkirk (UK), Sgt. Vladimir Minsk (USSR), & Cpl. Robert “Budd” Dwyer (USA). Work also began on digging underground tunnels that connected each of the barracks, plus various facilities to aid in their operations. Among these was a recording studio.
Other preparations were taken, such as installing hidden microphones in Klink’s office. Once preparations were complete, recording of their debut album began. They also started performing live & showcasing a few upcoming songs from this album. However, the band suffered a setback during this time: Minsk left the band, feeling that this job was “too dangerous”, and Budd left the band because he asked the audience to “leave the room if this will offend you” before each performance, something which quite a few people took seriously.
Their first album
With no horns players, the album was delayed until they found a new horns player, Sgt. Andrew Carter. He had escaped to England earlier in the year, yet somehow returned to Stalag 13 (maybe he teleported? Who gives a crap?) This proved to be an advantage for the band because that meant they could save money by having one person playing all types of horns. Eventually; Hogan’s Heroes, their debut album; was released in late 1942. It was covertly distributed among the Allied forces & the various underground resistance forces. Exactly how they managed to press so many discs & get them to the customers is unknown to this day.
Almost immediately after the first album & accompanying singles were released, work began on their second album, Will You Be With Me? During live performances; Sgt. Hans Schultz, the leader of the guards at Stalag 13; served as their bodyguard & made sure that none of them tried to escape. As mentioned earlier, despite the obvious connections between their live performances & the destruction of many of the venues they played at, Schultz always knew nothing about this, nor did he know anything about how Hogan‘s Heroes managed to get booked to play at these locations.
However, being in a band was not all fun & games. Hogan & friends also had to attend to certain matters in Stalag 13, such as preventing General Burkhalter’s sister, Frau Linkmeyer, from marrying Klink. Another matter of utmost seriousness was the fact that Major Hochstetter of the Gestapo was highly suspicious of Hogan’s activities. However, Hogan & the rest of the gang made him look like a fool & managed to keep their operations intact.
In October 1943, Will You Be With Me? was released to tremendous acclaim from the Allied forces. By now, Hogan’s Heroes were making a name for themselves, and word of their success was reaching the US continent. However, it would not be until a few years later that their records would actually be released to the American public.
Later years & decline
1944 was pretty much like any other year at Stalag 13, up until June 6. Of course, the band was working on a new album, but they were struck by a unique quandary: They had no idea what this new one would be called or what direction to go with it. Then, when the Allied forces invaded France on D-Day, it hit them: They decided to call the new album Colonel Hogan’s D-Day Beach Club Band. This new album was a concept album about a group of soldiers who meet up for the first time on D-Day & decide to form a band. Unbeknownst to many, the album was an encoded story about the formation of Hogan’s Heroes. Released in 1944, this album is considered by many to be the band’s finest work.
However, with Allied forces closing in on Germany, it was clear that the good times couldn’t last forever. In addition to this, Sgt. Kinchloe left the band for reasons unknown, so the band was under pressure to find a new bass player & finish one more album before the camp was liberated. Eventually, they recruited Sgt. Baker of the US Army & managed to record & press a few copies of their last album, Live and Let It Be, before the camp was liberated by Allied forces in April 1945.
After the war
Even after the camp was liberated, Hogan’s Heroes stuck around to press a few more copies of their final album before the band broke up. After their breaking up, the band members all took normal jobs .
The camp personnel were all arrested as POWs. However, Colonel Klink had to be let go because he didn’t know about the secret recording studio, which made him look incompetent. In addition, there was a lack of evidence regarding mistreatment of prisoners at Stalag 13.
Sergeant Schultz was released because he knew nothing. Nothing! General Burkhalter disappeared while in custody & his fate remains unknown today. However, there are numerous sightings of him as a band member for Elvis Presley.
As for Major Hochstetter, being a member of the Gestapo, he was tried at the Nuremberg Trials & sentenced to 1337 years in prison.
Later on, in 1949, Hogan had a re-union with Sgt. Kinchloe & Sgt. Carter. They decided to record one more album under the Hogan’s Heroes name just for old times’ sake. The new album was called All That and a Bag of Potato Chips. Stripped down to a 3-piece outfit, this new album was considered to be a predecessor of punk rock.
Despite their success & innovations in the field of music, and despite their records being released to the public, Hogan’s Heroes became largely forgotten after the war until a few years later, when musicians discovered their works & decided to take credit for their innovations without crediting the band. Alas, poor Hogan! I knew him, Sophia.
(NOTE: To protect their identities and keep their operations covert, the band members were credited under pseudonyms, which are in parentheses after their real names)
Colonel Robert E. Hogan, US Army Air Force (Bob Crane): Drummer, lead vocalist, founder, principal songwriter and producer for the band. Notable for being one of the few drummers to be a lead singer in their band, and probably the best of them all. A talented tactician & ladies’ man, Hogan was the one who formulated all the band’s secret military plans. Having gotten into the good graces of Klink & Schultz (sort of), he was able to convince them that the band’s arrival at the targets they were to destroy were mere coincidences.
Sadly, Colonel Hogan was murdered in 1952 by an unknown assassin. A person wanted for deserting an HUAC hearing was suspected as the culprit, but he was abducted by aliens before a jury could reach a verdict, so the murderer remains unknown to this day.
Corporal Louis LeBeau, French Resistance (Robert Clary): Keyboardist, backup vocalist and songwriter for the band. In addition to his skills as a musician, LeBeau was also a skilled cook and brewer. In fact, it was him who suggested the restaurant idea while Hogan and the gang were coming up with ideas for fronts to their espionage operations. He also made friends with the guard dogs at Stalag 13.
After the war, LeBeau worked with numerous French disco artists & bands in the 70’s, including Patrick Hernandez, Space, Cerrone, etc… Sadly, he never received any credit for his contributions. He also opened up a shelter for homeless animals and is an ardent animal activist. There are also rumors that he trained Julia Child, a.k.a. the “French Chef”, but most evidence points to her as being alone in the kitchen.
Corporal Peter Newkirk, RAF (Richard Dawson): Guitarist, backup vocalist, arranger, promoter and costume designer for the band. Newkirk was a real card shark & was the guy who came up with the casino idea before the band was formed. Thanks to his convincing German accent & uniform designing skills, he was able to book many gigs for the band as a cover-up for their sabotage operations.
A few years after the war ended, Newkirk got a job as a panelist on a game show called Match Game. However, he was fired because he took the “match” part too seriously, having brought a box of matches onto the show & trying to answer questions by either lighting things on fire or by saying answers that had the word “fire” in them. After Match Game, he hosted his own game show called Family Feud. Unfortunately, he was murdered by Arnold Schwarzenegger after only a few episodes aired, but in typical form was reincarnated and arose again, and has now returned to the east end of London.
Sergeant James “Kinch” Kinchloe, US Army (Ivan Dixon): Bassist, songwriter and sound engineer for the band. Ordinarily a radio operator, he could also develop unique sounds by plugging his guitar into the radio receiver & tuning the settings. In addition to bass guitar, he was also skilled with the regular bass, double bass and bass synthesizer. He was one of the finest sound engineers in the business, though there are rumors floating around that he snuck backwards messages into a number of Hogan’s Heroes songs.
After the war, Kinchloe worked on his own electronic musical instruments and released a series of obscure electronic music albums under the name “Chip”. However, his work was ripped of by a number of electronic music artists many years later, including: Daft Punk, Rick Astley, Lady Gaga, etc…
Sergeant Andrew Carter, US Army Air Force (Larry Hovis): Horns player & special effects master for the band. Not only was he skilled with a variety of horn instruments such as the trumpet, trombone, saxophone, tuba, and so forth, he also set up some impressive pyrotechnic displays for the band’s live shows. In fact, his pyrotechnics literally brought down the house!
When the war ended, as a trained pharmacist he started his own drug store in his home town of Muncie, Indiana, but got in trouble with the law on certain occasions for getting high off his own merchandise. In addition, he also got in trouble for possession and misuse of explosive devices and may or may not have masterminded some of the most notorious terrorist attacks of the Atomic Age.
However, despite Carter’s trouble with the law, Bill Clinton claims that he got into playing the saxophone after seeing Carter play at a local bar.
Sergeant Baker, US Army (Kenneth Washington): Replacement bass player & sound engineer for the band. Only recorded one album for the band before the band broke up. It is unknown what he did after the war, though.
Sergeant Vladimir Minsk, Soviet Red Army (Leonid Kinskey): Original trumpeter and saxophonist for the band. Only played a few live shows for the band before leaving. When asked about it, he said he left because he didn’t know that the band was founded for espionage purposes & because he felt it was too dangerous.
Corporal Robert “Budd” Dwyer (Christine Chubbuck): Original trombonist for the band. Was not 100% sure of his musical skills, so before each performance, he asked people to “leave the room if this [his trombone playing] will offend you”. After a few people took his request seriously, he quit the band.
After the war, he died after sleeping with some chick/bird/loose lady. According to the reports, she “blew his mind”.
Colonel Wilhelm Klink, German Luftwaffe (Werner Klemperer, often shortened to W. Klemp): Strings player & Commandant for Stalag 13. He was skilled with a variety of stringed instruments such as the violin, viola, cello, etc… He only played on the recordings, though. For live performances, the string section was comprised of random POWs from Stalag 13 who could play stringed instruments. In fact, the only reason he ever played for the band was because Hogan threatened to show Frau Linkmeyer (doctored) pictures of him with other chicks. To throw off suspicion, Hogan convinced Klink that he was recording him for some other project & recorded all of Klink’s parts in Klink’s office.
After the war & subsequent release from custody, he emigrated to the USA & released a rap album in 1951 under the name “Willie the K”. However, it was not popular & was quickly forgotten. Of course, a couple of decades later, some black people in New York rediscovered this music, becoming so popular at block parties that they decided to make their own version of this music & claim all the credit for themselves.
As stated before, Hogan’s Heroes were responsible for some of the biggest innovations in musical history, but others ended up stealing all the credit from them.
For starters, Hogan’s Heroes invented a number of new musical genres & sub-genres, including: Rock & roll, disco, funk, metal, etc… More importantly, they invented new ways of listening to music.
One of these inventions was the vinyl record. One day, while recording their first single, the shellac disc that was going to be the first pressing was dropped & shattered. With an extremely limited supply of shellac on hand, the band tested out other materials before settling on vinyl.
Another accidental invention was the introduction of new record formats. When the band was mastering another single, the record speed was accidentally set to a lower speed. With extra space on the record, rather than throw away the partially-recorded disc, the band discovered that with this method, they could record more than 2 songs per record, giving rise to the album and the EP. They also hit upon the idea of recording extended versions of some of their songs in this manner, which spawned the 12” single for dance music.
Of course, none of this mattered for dick because for some reason, Hogan’s Heroes was forgotten after the war & other people took credit for their ideas. There was a TV show based on Hogan’s Heroes in the 60’s, but it was semi-inaccurate as it made little to no mention of the band’s musical career.
1942: Hogan’s Heroes
1943: Will You Be With Me?
1944: Colonel Hogan’s D-Day Beach Club Band
1945: Live and Let It Be
1949: All This And a Bag of Potato Chips (Hogan, Kinchloe and Carter only)
1942: "Hogan’s Heroes Theme/Cherokee"
1942: "Rock And Roll All Nite/She Caught the Kady"
1943: "All of My Love/Stand By Your Man"
1943: "Love is the Message/I Found Love On a Disco Floor"
1944: "Colonel Hogan’s D-Day Beach Club Band/A Day in the Life"
1944: "Kung Fu Fighting/Yellow Submarine"
1945: "Live and Let Die/Let it Be"
1945: "The Lonely Man/Your Cheatin’ Heart"
1949: "Blitzkrieg Bop/Surfin’ Bird"