Kurt Demmler reigned among the premier German pop songwriters of the Cold War era, but his creative legacy is largely overshadowed by the harrowing accusations of child sexual abuse that ultimately led to his suicide. Born Kurt Abramowitz in Posen, Poland on September 12, 1943, he grew up in the East German state of Brandenburg. The son of doctors, he too pursued a career in medicine, but poetry was his great passion, and in time he began setting his verse to music. Much of Demmler's lyrical output reflected the political turmoil of life in the German Democratic Republic side of the Berlin Wall. He first rose to national prominence following a performance at the 1970 Festival des Politischen Liedes (Festival of Political Song), and returned to its stage several times during the decade that followed. After signing to Amiga Records, Demmler issued his debut LP Kurt Demmler -- Lieder in 1971, followed three years later by Verse auf Sex Beinen. Never a prolific recording artist, Demmler remains far better remembered as a composer -- award-winning songs like "Come into My Guitar Boat" and "Every Person Can Love Everyone" were covered by acts as diverse as Nina Hagen, Veronika Fischer, Karel Gott, Oktoberklub, the Puhdys, and Dean Reed. Arguably the crowning moment of Demmler's career followed in November 1989, when he headlined a mass public demonstration to lobby GDR officials for greater artistic freedoms and decry the surveillance efforts of the secret police. Demmler's music and message fell on fewer ears in the wake of German reunification. After more than a decade out of the spotlight, he returned to the public eye in 2008 when he was accused of more than 200 counts of child sexual abuse taking place from August 1995 to November 1999 and targeting six girls between the ages of 10 and 14. On February 3, 2009 -- the day his trial was scheduled to begin -- Demmler hanged himself in his jail cell. He was 65 years old.
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