At the end of the 60ies, a waning influence of the beat- and psychedelic rock era had many German musicians turn their attention towards a new music genre, which the English later, somewhat disrespectfully, called “Krautrock”. This development took its start in the music capitals, from where it eventually spread to the hinterland. And so it happened that in Wuppertal (approx. 20 km southeast of Düsseldorf) young musicians were looking for their own musical ways of expression. The most prominent band from this region that became popular nationwide was the band Hölderlin. Their name remains familiar with all lovers of “Krautrock” until today. Other bands that produced “Rock made in Wuppertal” weren’t able to achieve the success they deserved, in spite of their potential. The gap between amateurs and half-professional musicians was steadily increasing; one obstacle on the way to success was the equipment expenses ( a band had to fork out at least 10 000 € for amplifier and instruments), but also the increasingly demanding audience put an end to many an ambitious school band.
Cannabis India was founded in 1971 by Oliver Petry (organ, vocals), Dirk Fleck (bass) and Rüdiger Braune (drums), all of them former members of the cover band The Futures. Burckhard Eick, former keyboarder with The Futures, became their manager. In next to no time they managed to come up with a repertoire suitable for gigs, consisting of exclusively own compositions in the style of classical-rock. Oliver Petry, born in 1955, who even at his young age could look back on many years of experience in music making - he had had seven years of training in classical piano - composed all titles. In an interview with the Westdeutsche Zeitung (WZ) Petry explained his desire to make music as follows:” I want to use music as a language, to express what I feel and think. Music is the territory I am comfortable in, where I can let off steam.” In the beginning he attempted to perfect himself on his instrument by experimenting with all sorts of styles and techniques, trying to find new modes of expressions.
Before long, word of Cannabis India’s musical potential had gotten around all over Germany, and many gigs followed in clubs, music pubs and festivals ( for example with Kin Pin Meh, Beggars Opera, Earth and Fire, Fumble, Eiliff). The performance at the IFA in Berlin in 1973 was a highlight, as was the gig at the 1st Wuppstock Festival in 1973 on the Hardt open-air-theatre in Wuppertal.An invitation to do recordings at the Südwestfunk in May 1973, documented on this CD, was an expression of the general esteem the band was receiving.
After that, the three-man-band was joined by guitarist Martin Köhmstedt, formerly member of the local band Solomon Jackdaw. However, he left the band again in 1974 to join Gate from Haan. With Gate he recorded a total of three albums, two of which were released on the famous label Brain. Oliver Petry participated as guest musician in the second album “Red Light Sister”, released in 1977.
Soon after Köhmstedt had left, Cannabis India split up and Petry founded the band Universe with the remaining members of Solomon Jackdaw. Burkhard Eick was again manager of the band, but unfortunately not as successful as with Cannabis India, so that the band split up again a few months later. Before the break-up, however, Universe had recorded two of Oliver Petry’s compositions in the Studio Neugebauer in Düsseldorf, which have been included as bonus tracks on this CD. One of the reasons for the failure of Universe was that, in spite of good musical talent, the band didn’t secure enough gigs, and eventually rehearsed itself to death.
The members of Cannabis India came back together again as musicians for the Fritz Müller Band project. Fritz Müller (alias Eberhard Kranemann), who had connections with Kraftwerk and Neu!, had been able to secure the services of studio wizard and producer Conny Plank. Together with the musicians of Cannabis India he recorded the album “Kommt” on the legendary Roth-Händle-label. From the musical point of view, the album was a mixture of heavy psychedelic sounds, avant-garde, punk and Neue Deutsche Welle. This was the last time the former Cannabis India members played together.
Later on, drummer Rüdiger Braune played with The Ramblers, Nena’s former backing group. After that, from 1980 on, he was founding member of the wave avant-garde band Kowalski, whose music the press at the time described as metal-pop. Kowalski recorded two albums, “Schlagende Wetter” and “Over man Underground”, both released on Virgin, along with several 12”. During the nineties he played the drums in Gianna Nannini’s live band as well as on several albums.
Bassist Dirk Fleck founded the rock band “Mama” together with guitarist Martin Köhmstedt, who had also been on live tour with Gianna Nannini.
Oliver Petry became lead singer of Empire from Mönchengladbach (together with bassist Dirk Fleck and others). Together they recorded one album, released in 1981, and a single for Repertoire records.
In the following years he did numerous jobs as studio/guest musician, vocalist and keyboarder. At the end of the eighties four of his compositions were produced with the singer Tina Charles (I love to love), but never released. In 2000 he recorded eight titles on his own in a studio in Cologne, in the musical style of pop/song-writing. Oliver Petry, who has been working as an independent web- and graphic designer as well as sound designer for websites (see and hear on www.jermai.de), is planning a “just-for-fun” musical project for 2009, with the working title “The Unbrothers”, featuring zappaesque samples and a real Italian
Translation: Dr. Martina Häusler
Petry, Manfred Steinheuer, February 2009
Hand Of The King
by Universe: Mirror
by Universe: The Hunt