With his cheerful nature, Tony Marshall infected millions of Germans for decades. The hit legend died two weeks after his 85th birthday. “When I laugh, I laugh from the heart. And I’m actually always in a good mood,” said Marshall about himself. Only the last few meters of his life weren’t so cheerful: Marshall had been in poor health for a long time.

Marshall retired after emergency surgery last spring. Even before that he was struggling with the consequences of a corona infection, which led to a novelty in October 2021 – his manager had to cancel a concert at the time. “It’s the first time after 8,000 appearances that I have to cancel a performance by Tony,” his manager Herbert Nold told the “Bild” newspaper at the time.

The cancellation was something unusual because Marshall loved the direct contact with his fans. That’s why he fought his way back onto the stage after his health setbacks. He had his last big performance in the spring of last year with his two sons Marc and Pascal, who are also musicians, in Baden-Baden. “There’s still music in my world,” Marshall sang to a moved audience at the time.

Born on February 3, 1938, Marshall’s life was music. He released 120 singles, had 40 shows of his own and circled the earth 60 times on his tours. In order to underline its importance for the German hit world, only four letters are needed, connected with a flourish: “Ho-ja-ho-ja-ho” is the line that made the whole of Germany sing along to the song about the “beautiful maiden”.

Marshall would have preferred not to sing the later hit, released in 1971, at all. He drank a whole bottle of Chianti because he had hoped that producer Jack White would throw him out of the studio so drunk, Marshall recalled on the 50th anniversary of the hit.

But who cares – White knew exactly about the symbiosis that would enter into this song singer and piece of music and insisted on Marshall’s singing. The rest of the song is history, it was declared a party anthem and Marshall by Dieter Thomas Heck in the ZDF “Hitparade” as the “nation’s cheerleader”.

The fact that Marshall was so resistant to the production is probably also due to his education. The singer, whose civil name is Herbert Anton Hilger, studied music and passed a state examination as an opera singer in Karlsruhe in 1965. With a hit like “Schöne Maid” – that was clear to him – classical music was history at first.

Luckily, fans of the well-groomed hit will say. “Today we’ll hit the drum”, “I’ll catch the sunshine for you” and “Boy, the world is beautiful” ran from then on over the stations and at parties.

In his hit “Bora Bora” from 1978, Marshall, who lived scandal-free with his wife until the end – the couple has three children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren – sang about the lightness of the South Seas. For his 70th birthday he received honorary citizenship of the island. He was also an honorary citizen in his hometown of Baden-Baden, where there has been a Tony Marshall Path for years.

“I actually have the beautiful maid to thank for everything,” said Marshall, who has also remained popular through many television shows, once on Südwestrundfunk. Only Marshall’s last wish remained unfulfilled for the singer who died on Thursday evening surrounded by his family: “To be struck by lightning on stage would be the best exit I could imagine.”