Bert Kaempfert was a German orchestra leader, producer and songwriter. He was born Berthold Heinrich Kampfert in Hamburg, Germany in 1923. He died in 1980 at the young age of 56, but during his life he had a profound effect on the music world. He studied music as a youth at the Hamburg School of music and learned to play the piano, accordion, clarinet and saxophone.
There is some disagreement online as to who wrote “Wonderland By Night,” but I’m inclined to believe that Bert Kaempfert wrote the music at least. There are words to the song and it appears that Lincoln Chase wrote the English version of the lyrics. It was the title song of a German movie of the same name which purported to show the underbelly of German nightlife.
Bert had had his own band since just after World War II and in 1959, he produced the song “Morgan” for Ivo Robic. That song reached number thirteen on the pop chart here in the United States. He recorded “Wonderland By Night” in late 1959. The trumpet you hear during the song is played by Charly Tabor. After the success of “Wonderland By Night,” Bert Kaempfert worked with many other artists, most notably, The Beatles and Frank Sinatra. In 1961,he hired a then almost unknown group called the Beatles to play backup on an album he produced for Tony Sheridan. He produced the first session the Beatles ever recorded which resulted in songs like “Ain’t She Sweet” and “My Bonny Lies Over the Ocean,” really early Beatles songs. He signed the Beatles for a short time, but didn’t think the word “Beatles” translated well into German, so he called them The Beat Brothers.
Later in the Sixties, he produced the number one hit for Frank Sinatra, “Strangers in the Night.” So, Bert Kaempfert has had quite an effect on music history. Bert had three more instrumental hits in the United States, including “Tenderly” and “Red Roses for a Blue Lady.”
“Wonderland By Night” entered the pop chart in this country on November 21, 1960 and worked its way to number one where it spent three weeks.