Colourful, traditional, diverse – Munich’s city districts. “Out and about with ...” offers very personal insights through the eyes of the people who live here and who know their neighbourhoods best. This time: Herbert “Herbi” Hauke shows us his Olympiapark (Olympic Park).
Olympic organising committees look back to Munich time and again in search of the winning formula from 1972. They really got it right back then – and it’s even possible to feel the atmosphere today, as the expansive park is still used for concerts and sporting events. Many also simply come here for a picnic and to enjoy watching the sun setting over the city from the Olympiaberg.
For 17 years the Olympiaturm (Olympic Tower) was home to the highest Rock Museum in the world – its director was Herbert “Herbi” Hauke, a veteran of the music scene and passionate collector of various artefacts from rock and pop history. Today he writes books, organises exhibitions such as A Bohemian Rhapsody, and works with Muctours to offer an e-bike tour of Olympiapark that is steeped in history. You can read an excerpt of the podcast here.
Herbi, what connection do you have with Olympiapark?
It’s actually a very funny story: around the turn of the century, my grandfather had the opportunity to buy the Oberwiesenfeld with a partner – he was pretty wealthy. But being young, they decided to order two racing cars from America instead. Then they went on a bender, drove to Gründwald and totalled the two cars in the process! Every time I’m here, there’s a little pain because it actually could have been my land in a way. (He laughs.)
That’s the last thing I expected you to say! But for 17 years you managed the Rock Museum here in Olympiapark, which was the highest rock museum in the world in its time. How did that come about?
My generation was looking for something different after what had come before; we were shaped by Woodstock. I went to my first concert in 1972 – The Who, because people said they were the loudest band in the world. It was worth it! My second one was Tina Turner. We had second-row tickets and the Rolling Stones were sitting in the front row. They were very charming, even though we really pestered them. I had brought a bouquet of moss roses for Tina, which I threw onto the stage. She took one of the flowers out, put it in her air and sang “I've been loving you too long” for me. That was absolutely insane of course, and I badly needed a half-litre of beer afterwards!
Later, one of her management team invited me to the after-show party at the Hilton – I was eighteen at the time! Then my rose appeared on the cover image for her next song, “Sweet Rhode Island Red”, and after that I was known in Milbertshofen as ‘Herbi, the guy everyone knows’ (laughs). And that’s how I came to spend a lifetime backstage.
How did you actually come up with the idea of hosting concerts in the Rock Museum as well?
I was already in contact with Uriah Heep before it all began. I rang them and asked if they would open the Rock Museum. They agreed on condition that we all go out to dinner with my family the evening before. That night we sat in a pub and I rewrote the menu using the band’s song titles, renaming dishes things like “Lady in Black” and so on – they loved it! We ended up celebrating until four in the morning and I totally forgot the press conference was at 10am. I was pretty hungover when I turned up. Having set up the sound system for Uriah Heep, we realised how good the acoustics were in the Rock Museum – it was very surprising. That’s how we hit on the idea of organising regular concerts there.
The Rock Museum became a cult venue – not least because we organised over 300 live concerts there, and the audience was always very close to the band with a great view of Munich.
Back to Olympiapark. What makes the architecture of the buildings special for you?
The architecture is influenced by that period following Woodstock, characterised by a belief in a beautiful world. People spoke of the “Age of Aquarius”, which meant all of us living in peace, that we are brothers and sisters. Unfortunately, that lovely idea didn’t come to much. But the concept is anchored here in the architecture, which is fun. I always tell people: breathe in the park and walk through it with your eyes open.
Incidentally, the tented roof architecture is a reflection of the Alps. When the builders cut these pieces to size, someone took a few of them home and cut them into tiny pieces, then sold them for one mark each. You really can make money from anything! (He laughs)
We are now walking along part of your bike tour route. What are the particularly important highlights you share with people along this stretch?
As I mentioned, it was the hippy era: a time of awakening, student riots, mini skirts, the pill and rock music. All that meant a certain lightness also flowed into the Olympic Games, and it persisted until tragedy struck there. The typical example of this for me is the Theatron festival with its free concerts, which still stands for the principle that you shouldn’t have to spend a lot to enjoy great concerts.
You referred to the dark chapter of the terrorist attack. How did you experience that event?
I will never forget how the helicopter that collected the hostages flew directly over our house. We sat on the terrace and knew that we were witnessing world history. We listened to the radio, spellbound, and heard the announcement that all of the hostages had been freed – my mother immediately took some fizz out of the fridge and we celebrated. But then half an hour later they reported that one person had died; then two, then three ... and at some stage, we realised that things had gone badly wrong. We really felt a sense of loss at that time. Right before it happened there had been a sense of great celebration, with the youth of the world here in the city. They said “the games must go on”, but we didn’t really feel like we could be happy again. I think not giving in was the right call – but at the same time, everything was broken.
The Olympiastadion is another important stop along the tour.
In 1982, the decision was taken to use the stadium for concerts as well. The first event was a double concert by the Rolling Stones. Peter Maffay opened for them back then, but as a Schlager singer he was too much of a soft pop choice for most of the crowd – they booed him mercilessly and pelted him with tropical fruit. But he made it through his whole set. Many years later I had the opportunity to talk to him about that gig at the Rock Museum, and he said that even though it was a complete disaster, it showed him that he had much to do if he wanted to become a serious artist. And I personally would say that he went on to carve out a noteworthy career.
Olympiapark is so diverse – can you tell us about a spot that not many people know about?
Father Timofey’s Ost-West-Friedenskirche (Church of Peace) was a very special place, of course. Because all the rubble left behind after the War was dumped here, he had more than enough construction material available to build his church in the 1950s. Since the Oberwiesenfeld was just wasteland then, nobody was too bothered about a hermit building a church on it. But when it became evident that the site would be used for the Olympic Games, the revolutionary spirit of Munich awakened to protest that the man could not simply be sent away – after all, the Games were intended to be a symbol of peace. And so it remained an exquisite gem – a very tranquil point.
Thanks very much, Herbi!
The Queen – A Bohemian Rhapsody exhibition will continue until 30 June 2022 at Pasinger Fabrik.