R.I.P. Peter Hollinger

Peter Hollinger performing "Eine Violine für Valentin", Nickelsdorf, 1993

I just received the devastating news that drummer/percussionist Peter Hollinger passed away by taking his own life yesterday.

I was a big fan of his tight, dry drumming and his unique sound which was informed by rock and punk energy and less by the usual jazz improv. At the same time he was a sensitive player, a true listener, full of humor and spontaneity. I knew his work from projects like Uludag, Gestalt Et Jive or Slawterhouse. I first heard him live in 1990 or 1991 in Berlin-Kreuzberg where he performed his solo piece "Koffersuite" in a small theater in Ratiborstrasse. All instruments had to fit into a suitcase. This simple trick was building a beautiful dramaturgy and frame for this piece. A lot of junk, metals and household objects were animated to appear, sound and vanish again. He was also one of the few folks from the older/middle generation of experimental musicians who was not hostile, unfriendly or competitive to a youngster like me in Berlin at the time when I came onto the scene in the 90ies.

He was always very direct but friendly. He would tell his critique and unvarnished opinion straight into the face, but he would never act rejective. I remember when I once played him some early drafts of some four track tape collage pieces. His clear direct reaction: "I have no idea was this is supposed to be about." So I went back to the studio to work harder to make sense of what I was trying to do.

He kind of disappeared from the scene in the late 90ies and early 2000s at a time when I started working with the colleagues from my on generation and when I spent increasingly time on tour. There may be many reasons for his disappearing, his resistance to play non-paid door gigs around Berlin, his uncompromising character, his slowly deteriorating health, etc. etc. I only met him a few times later and luckily around 2006 we finally had the opportunity to play a concert together. For health reasons he could not play the drum kit, so he brought a couple of Indian food tablets and pod lids which he played sitting on the floor. Our playing blended beautifully with my rotating surfaces set-up. It was a wonderful experience and sadly a one off situation. I tried to get us more gigs but at the time nobody in Berlin or internationally was interested. It did not fit any convention, nor was he still known enough to trigger the interest of what was fashionable at the time!! I lost contact again and only heard occasionally from different people about his difficult situation.

The latest news were that in addition to his bad health the landlord was taking action for eviction against him. I feel ashamed and guilty that I was not able to help him in his difficult time!! And I feel angry about what is happening in our city. It is scandalous and sad that someone who has contributed so much music can fall down behind in our society! And shame on you the landlord who tried to push him out of his apartment. Obviously the only solution he saw was to end his life.

(Ignaz Schick, 1. Juni 2021)

"Das Ende von Kreuzberg..." (Tip Berlin)
"Protest-Demo nach Tod von Kreuzberger Szene-Musiker" (BZ Berlin)