Ladi Geisler passed away at the age of 83
Ladi played on all of Kaempfert's sessions as well as thos of developing international stars
Horst Wende (and his later incarnation, Roberto Delgado), James Last, and Hildegard Knef. Kaempfert rarely toured, and the others hired road guitarists, leaving Geisler free to stay in Hamburg to perform and record with the orchestras of Franz Thon, Alfred Hause, Helmut Zacharias, and Gunther Fuhlisch, while supporting such German schlager and pop artists as Abi & Esther Ofarim, Rudi Shuricke,Margot Eskens, Friedel Hensch, and Freddy Quinn as well as many others. Geisler played on over 1,000 recordings a year, covering every style from polka to pop, rock to rhumba, surf to schlager, with his only credit appearing on his union session sheets as he turned in performances for Polydor, Teldec, Philips, and Electrola.
In the early '60s he bought a Fender electric bass guitar from James Last, who didn't like the sound of the instrument; while recording with Kaempfert he developed what became one of the strongest beats in pop music, which came to define the Kaempfert style and separate those recordings from all the soundalike product in the marketplace. "Knackbass" is a treble staccato created when the string is plucked by a pick and immediately suppressed, canceling the sustain; the impact of the sound propelled such compositions as "Danke Schoen" and "That Happy Feeling" to world-wide hit status and cemented Geisler's industry reputation as an invaluable contributor. He began to release records under his own name in the '60s, and with his backup group the Playboys, had German hits with cover versions of such pop standards as "Calcutta" and "Wheels"; "Little Geisha" was a top charting single for Ladi Geisler and the Tonics in 1963, and became a hit in New Zealand as well. In the late '60s he released his own albums for the first time, Latin and Russian themed instrumentals that showed a great kinship with such skilled American players as Chet Atkins and Les Paul. Even the Beatlescame into contact with Geisler; when the band's equipment proved to be too shoddy for recording their early sessions in Hamburg withTony Sheridan, Geisler kindly loaned them the use of his gear. Ever versatile, he performed in an avant-garde piece by Pierre Boulezwith the NDR Orchestra to considerable acclaim, and played on an album with German hip-hop star Ill Will. A modest person, he was startled to be mobbed by interview requests and fan adulation while touring Japan in 1988 and 1990 with the Alfred Hause Orchestra. In the 1990s the ever-astute Bear Family label began compiling some of his work and recording more, making several excellent compilations and new recordings; they also released the audio-book Anekdoten Eines Gitarrens, featuring guitar work, tributes, and an interview with Geisler. Since his retirement from studio work in the late '90s, Ladi has focussed on jazz performances, playing live in clubs and festivals around Europe with a trio or quartet, often celebrating the works of his idol, Django Reinhardt. "Work keeps me young," he invariably replies when asked why he keeps performing in his eighth decade; if that is true, given his prolific high-quality output Ladi Geisler must be the youngest musician on the planet.